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Witches, Midwives and Nurses.

Witches, Midwives and Nurses.

A history of women healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English. This is a fascinating study of the European history of women as healers from the Middle Ages through to the Twentieth century. The authors show how women's roles in health are inextricably linked to our oppression as women, to the deep-rooted institutionalised class system and to monopolies of knowledge. 

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Not from the pamphlet but related.....

 

The persecution of witches reached its zenith at a time when Christianity's attitudes against sex had long since turned into full-blown misogyny. It is amazing how celibate men became obsessed with the sexuality of women. As it is stated in Malleus Maleficarum: "All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable." Another section describes how witches were known to "...collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird's nest."

Evidently they were not entirely stingy with their collections -- there is the story of a man who went to a witch to have his lost penis restored: "She told the afflicted man to climb a certain tree, and that he might take which he like out of a nest in which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said: You must not take that one; adding, because it belonged to a parish priest."

And some people say that religion isn't really all about wishful thinking!

These sentiments were nothing unique or unusual -- indeed, they are a result of centuries of mean-spirited sexual pathology on the part of church theologians. The philosopher Boethius, for example, wrote in The Consolation of Philosophy that "Woman is a temple built upon a sewer." Later, in the tenth century, Odo of Cluny stated "To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure."

Women were regarded as impediments to true spirituality and union with God, which helps explain why investigators focused on women more than men. The church had a long-standing prejudice against women, and this was given vent when the doctrine of devil worship was emphasized as an enemy which the church had to confront and destroy. This animus hasn't entirely disappeared even today. Women aren't persecuted and tortured, but they are deliberately kept out of positions of authority and responsibility reserved exclusively for men.

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