Witch Hunts. They still happen today.
First, a little history.
The witch hunts that took place from 1480 to 1700 were in part facilitated by the negative perceptions of women during the time period of their occurrence. Statistics reveal that females typically comprised about 80% of the total amount of “witches” executed, implying that, for every male victim (and how many of them were homosexuals?), four females lost their lives.
Writing ‘The Hammer of Witches (Malleus Maleficarum)’,the monks Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger entrenched this misogynist bent into official witch-hunting doctrine. Kramer and Sprenger describe a woman as inherently more fallible than her male counterpart, and from her very nature, as one originating from an improperly bent rib, prone to evil. However, Kramer and Sprenger also write that, though women are susceptible to evil influences, they can also be “very good” when they use their impressionable qualities in a certain manner.
Given the heavily patriarchal nature of their time period, the monks may have been suggesting that the proper place of a woman is to obey male influences, so that her imperfections may be compensated for by the males’ lack of such fallibilities. The threat of being branded a witch more readily than a male would be might have served as a deterrent for women from defying the commonplace expectations imposed on them by the social and religious paradigms surrounding them.
Women like Alice Prabury, who diverged from the expected role of a woman as a mundane housekeeper and instead obtained uncommon skills to cure people and animals of diseases, were targets for persecution. The Churchwardens of Gloucestershire may have filed their accusation of witchcraft against Prabury due to their disapproval of the excessive independence that the woman manifested, as exemplified in her refusal to tell others, including the representatives of the dominant paradigm, the unique means by which she went about performing her work.
Thus creative, individualistic, and independent women were most often the targets of the two-century-long spree of witch hunts. Such persecution unfortunately destroyed many talented individuals who could have lived fulfilling lives and made tremendous advances in the arts and sciences.
Now, cast your minds back to the campaign of vilification that was unleashed by the Liberal Party against Julia Gillard, the lawful Prime Minister of Australia.
I think you can see where I am going with this.
How well-read is our own Mad Monk in the Catholic Canon? How have his perceptions of women in contemporary society been informed by what he has learnt during his years of education as a Jesuit, both at school and in the Seminary, while he was there? How has his own misogynist bent been used to inform the campaign of abuse, humiliation and vilification against Prime Minister Julia Gillard? An openly proud Atheist and Non-Conformist to the social doctrines that Tony Abbott is steeped in?
Now, of course, when Tony Abbott is accused of being a misogynist towards the Prime Minister, people spring to his defence by saying, “Look how well he gets on with his wife and daughters. Look at his Chief-Of-Staff. She is a woman! They are powerful women. He’s obviously OK with powerful women. Your accusations have no substance!” However, I put that down to a differential perspective. In Abbott’s eyes, as quoted above from ‘The Hammer of Witches’, ‘good women’ are those who behave in ways that receive approval from men, conform to the ‘Male as Dominant’ paradigm and the social and religious conformity expected of them by religious males. That is, these women are married, or single young women on the pathway to marriage, and thus conform to Tony Abbott’s idea of what a good woman is. Hence he is happy to treat them favourably. Why wouldn’t he? As people say about him, he is basically a decent person when around the people in his social milieu. Who get the tick of approval from him.
Of course, I must single out Julie Bishop for special mention here. She may not be married to her partner Peter Nattrass, or have produced any children. Also has been as career-driven as the Prime Minister was; however, she conforms in as much as she knows her place in the Tony Abbott Coalition hierarchy, and that place is as a submissive woman to ‘The Leader’. Also, how can we know what Tony Abbott’s innermost thoughts are about her? Nevertheless, Ms Bishop has not become dominant over Mr Abbott, so is not in the same category as the Prime Minister.
So, the woman who does not conform and has broken the mould, is thought to have succumbed to evil influences. Therefore is a witch and a justifiable target for persecution, in the mind of a devoutly religious man.
It certainly serves as a philosophical justification, if nothing else, and a salve to any sort of a guilty conscience Tony Abbott might have felt, if only initially and long since passed, as he began his public attacks on a woman with verbal violence of a ferocity never before witnessed in Australian politics. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any other female leader of a country or political party who has been so publicly demeaned by her male political opponent, as has Julia Gillard. Without remorse and relentlessly.
Finally, let me leave you with some more history about Witch Hunts(as supplied by G. Stolyarov II), to reflect upon and as it pertains to the ‘Carbon Tax Lie’ vendetta against the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard:
Political rivalries, too, were motives for accusations of witchcraft. Among the victims of such ploys was Mayor Johannes Junius, who, though entirely innocent, was confronted with a trial whose proceedings were clearly not aimed toward an objective determination of guilt or innocence, but rather at causing Junius to “confess something, whether it be true or not.” The trial was rigged against Junius, and there was to be no possible outcome but his death. Such a case could not have existed had Junius not possessed rivals who wanted him eliminated at all costs. A vacancy in the post of mayor could, after all, assist someone’s political ambitions, either to occupy the position or place into it a man acceptable to some religious or political faction with the means to carry out witch hunts.
Junius = Julia? It’s not as ridiculous a proposition as it may at first seem. Of course, an actual death is not possible. However, a political death is an eminently desirable outcome for the protagonists in our political game. And not beyond the realms of possibility, as a perfectly justifiable game plan, for our own Mad Monk.