Watch the genius philosopher and writer of “Brave New World”, Aldous Huxley, briefly discuss female bosoms from a historical and social / cultural perspective during an interview. In this rare footage, Huxley makes some insightful and witty points on the subject. Educational and hilarious at the same time; notice how he’s struggling not to laugh. I loved how he was smiling good-humoredly as he analyzed the issue…
Can’t believe this only has 100 views on YouTube…
What is a witch? Most people imagine witches as evil, ugly, old and dangerous women; others associate the word “witch” with magic and depictions of witches as shown in the popular media, e.g. Bewitched, Harry Potter, etc. Regardless of whether the word “witch” has a positive or negative connotation in today’s language, culture and understanding, when one examines witches and their persecution in historical perspective it becomes evident that these stereotypes are misconceptions. In reality, the witch-hunts were a very sad story of injustice and cruelty, involving the vilification and torment of countless innocent women.
The witch hunts took place over many centuries and over both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, the witch hunts were not uniform; they happened for different reasons and in different societies. Furthermore, the true nature of the witch hunts has been masked by the misinformation, biased superstition and propaganda that has been fed to the public by those groups who were in power and responsible for these massacres. In my view, this is why the word “witch” has a negative connotation in the modern English language. Calling someone a witch is rarely meant as a compliment. Consequently, I hope to demonstrate that it is not analytically sound to generalize about witches and witch hunts for that is what has led to the majority’s confusion about what these women actually were and about what really happened to them.
So were witches real? Yes, that is to say witch beliefs and practices indeed existed. However, not all the people who were killed during the witch hunts were witches. As mentioned above, most of them were innocent of the crimes they were accused of. This brings us to the meaning of witchcraft.
Witchcraft is a kind of explanatory system –not based on science- used by society to explain natural misfortunes. In other words, witches were the scapegoats , i.e. they were blamed for undermining the world and their sacrifice was not only considered just, but also beneficial for the rest of society. Continue reading
Members of an egalitarian society are, by definition, considered to be equals, i.e. they have the same status despite their diversity in terms of race, social class, income, or in this case, gender. Therefore, in principle, women in egalitarian societies have an equally important social role and responsibility as men do, or there is a general semblance of equality. In an egalitarian society, both men and women have equal influence and thus have equal opportunity to assume positions of authority. Nevertheless, although hunter-gatherer societies were more egalitarian than today’s segregated socioeconomic cultures, one may still observe differences between men and women’s roles, and even some degree of inequity.
The experiences of women in egalitarian foraging societies as described by Marjorie Shostak in her book, “Nisa, the life and words of a !Kung woman”, testify to a higher degree of gender equality in bushman societies than in non-egalitarian modern ones. However, they also shed some light into why men still managed to assume greater authority in some instances and why their contribution was often valued more than women’s. In spite of these slight gender differences, the author argues that foraging societies were a lot less stratified than today’s market-based societies, where gender hierarchies are prevalent. In other words, she suggests that:
“Perhaps the extremes of subordination of women by men found in many of today’s more socioeconomically ‘advanced’ cultures are only a relatively recent aberration in our long, human calendar.” (Shostak 2000, 214)
In my view, the emergence of gender hierarchies is directly related to the shift from hunting and gathering towards a settler’s life and the development of market economies. Continue reading