Patriarchal power: from Witch Dunking to Family Courts

HalfTheWorldsPopulationAccording to a report released by the United Nations World Heath Organization (WHO), 35 percent

of women around the world experience some form of physical or sexual violence, whether by an intimate partner or stranger, and the problem is so widespread that it is now considered a global public health problem. 

While legislative actions are commendable, to date these measures have not led to a world free from violence—women continue to be subject to it, the media continues to report it, activists continue to fight against it and we end up in a perpetuating cycle of institutional inertia.

Perhaps we need to look more closely at the history and present day use of Patriarchal Power…..

Putin and the Patriarch jailed Pussy Riot, only to see the Femen movement take off.
Putin and the Patriarch jailed Pussy Riot, only to see the Femen movement take off.

Patriarchal power: an insidious double-bind that undermines mental health

by musteryou

Patriarchy creates a “double-bind” for women who live under its system. Women are expected to concede that patriarchy is entirely rational and reasonable and that they are treated well under it. Those who do not concede this are treated as if they are both irrational and unreasonable, though patriarchal projection, and are candidates for re-education.

The question that patriarchal logic does not permit is whether it is reasonable to expect women to live happily under a system of patriarchy. This  indicates that patriarchy is an ideological system that is concerned with maximizing its control.

In Medieval times, a woman who gained social power was subjected to a patriarchal “test” to see whether her heart was pure. For her to be proven pure, she had to lose her will to live. Should she fail the test, by maintaining her struggle to survive, she was shown to be of impure heart. This meant that she was condemned to die for her sins.

The particular test was the dunking of witches: “If they floated they were guilty of witchcraft, if they sank they were innocent but would have usually drowned anyway.”

guilty or dead was the choice given
guilty or dead was the choice given

Under the existing patriarchal culture, the dunking of witches no longer occurs in a literal way. This does not mean that the fear of witches has disappeared from patriarchal consciousness, only that it has weakened somewhat. In another sense, however, the method of removing “witches” from society has been refined and made more subtle. These days, a “witch” is someone who is angry at having to live under patriarchal control.  While her “evil” status is more figurative, the measures taken against her are no less real than in the past.

Although one’s will to live is expressed in terms of this righteous anger, the patriarchal system views this anger as being indicative of an impure attitude concerning its system of power relations. Only a docile woman, accepting of patriarchal control, is acceptable. The angry woman has to be punished, to bring her into the state of submission of her docile sister.

Only then will she be considered to have been “redeemed”. But, by what?

In the olden days, it was claimed that Christianity had finally saved her, the drowned witch.   Now, it is claimed not too differently, that “rationality” and reason have saved her from her inner savagery. In neither case is she actually saved. Nor are the attributed causes of her “salvation” in any way true.

Rather: it is raw patriarchal power that has destroyed her in both cases.

A million Women Rise
A million Women Rise

some of the original comments

Charles Pragnell says:

June 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM

The most obvious way in which women are punished by the patriarchal enforcers is the removal of their children by Courts and their branding as `Borderline Personality Disorder’, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, and a variety of other psychiatric labels which have no basis in scientfically conducted research and the assessment for such alleged `conditions’ is usually completed within an hour in an psychiatist’s/ psychologist’s office. .

This occurs with increasing frequency in the Family Courts where mothers have their children removed if they dare to suggest that the separated father has violently assaulted them and the children, or that they may deign to suggest that the father has sexually assaulted his children and should have no future contact with them.

If the mother has the affrontery to try to escape the bruatlity of the father and of the legal system with her children, either interstate or overseas, she is brought back and imprisoned and ordered to pay all of the Court costs and of course have her children removed. The patriarchy in the Courts is the ,most vindicvtive and vengeful aspects of today’s patriarchy.

Catherine Mill says:

June 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM

In Ireland when you try and leave a male domestic terrorist, patriarchal state agents called social workers do label the strong women witches and even threaten to make them homeless, remove their children for ECT “therapy” in an effort to get the women back under the control of the male perpetrator.
“They determined that women had intelligence which was less evolved than that of men, and in particular, poor women.”—An Irish trainee judge discussing the lens through which modern Irish family judges are groomed to view mothers”

In UK Liverpool 3 mothers were deemed witches for having the strength of 10,000 men. I kid you not. Their punishment was removal of their children for forced adoption. Their crime- fleeing domestic violence and asking for help.

The secret Inquisition Courts – aka Family courts are still in existence with an in camera rule applied meaning the public is not allowed to witness the court proceedings . Also mothers are not allowed to speak to media as the punishment is jail.

Just a few examples of how patriarchy is alive and well and witch trials live on in 2013 Ireland and UK.smash patriarchy


musteryou says:

From Mary Daly:

In modern times psychiatric ideology has to a large extent replaced theology as
custodian of society’s values. Clearly, the semantics of “good” and “evil” have
been replaced partially by “health” and “mental illness.” In our times, a woman
who is defined as unhealthy because she wants power over her own life can’t win
according to the rules of the psychiatrists’ games.

As Szasz has shown, the tortures are more subtle but the pattern is the same.

Szasz’s analysis is adevelopment of an analogy between institutional psychiatry and the Inquisition
which was earlier made by Elizabeth Packard, a woman who was psychiatrically
imprisoned for “madness” in the nineteenth century by her husband, who
disagreed with her theological views. (32)

Women, particularly, [65] although of course not exclusively,

are victimized by the barbarities of modern psychiatry,
especially psychosurgery. As a result of the efforts of Dr Peter Breggin’s
investigations, it is not well known that there has emerged a second wave of
psychosurgery, which, interestingly, is contemporaneous with the second wave
of feminism. This includes operations in which healthy brain tissue is mutilated
in order to change a person’s emotions and conduct.

The current wave of psychosurgery is aimed not only at state hospital patients, but especially at
relatively well-functioning “neurotics,” particularly women. On February 24,
1972, Dr Breggin’s article, “The Return of Lobotomy and Psychosurgery,” was
read into the Congressional Record. Discussing the remarkably large proportion
of women who are being lobotomized, Dr Breggin explains that it is more
socially acceptable to lobotomize women because creativity, which the operation
totally destroys, is in this society “an expendable quality in women.”

A famous psychosurgeon (Freeman, the “dean of lobotomists”) is quoted as saying that
lobotomized women make good housekeepers. Concerning this phenomenon,
Dr Barbara Roberts, a feminist, observes that psychosocial conditioning is no
longer as effective as it once was in suppressing female anger:

But, ever resourceful, patriarchal class society is developing what could prove
to be the “final solution” to the “woman problem” (and for the “problems”
caused by all other oppressed groups). That weapon is psychosurgery. (33)
The weapons that modern technology is developing for social control of
deviants, particularly women, are more subtle than burning at the stake. this shit

They merely destroy minds – the capacity for creativity, imagination, and rebellion –
while leaving hands and uteruses intact to perform the services of manual work
and breeding

Battling the Benevolent Patriarch

 …….You see, benevolent patriarchs are nice men, who make the mistake of not confronting patriarchy in their own lives (whether private or public) and manage to find some way to be nice about their patriarchal domination.  They make the mistake of assuming they are somehow revolutionary good men supporting the fight against patriarchy, when all they are doing is adapting their patriarchy to the most recent feminist updates to avoid actually challenging the patriarchy in their personal lives whether it be in romantic relationships or friendships.  Beware of the benevolent patriarch because while he may wine about how hard he is trying to change, he isn’t challenging the patriarchy in his own life.  Avoiding the confrontation of patriarchy in your own life is extremely problematic, it leads to damaged relationships along the trail of life.  So if you are a man, claiming to support women in the fight against patriarchy; keep your male privilege & patriarchy in check because if you don’t you’re just a guy who happens to be a bit nicer about oppression.


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523256_10151030510397776_1909113140_ntranslation of witch graphic

long Live the Witches

Women in Struggle

Dedicated to all women, anti-Eva, Revolutionaries, anti-submissive ansd subversive,

against all the authorities of Earth and Heaven,

against all the moulds dictated by this authoritarian society.

Viva the women who struggle and fight

for the ideals of equality and freedom.

Author: thefreeonline

The Free is a book and a blog. Download free E/book ...”the most detailed fictional treatment of the movement from a world recognizably like our own to an anarchist society that I have read...

2 thoughts on “Patriarchal power: from Witch Dunking to Family Courts”

  1. Note the Basque country in Spain was the only place in the world where men organised collectively in the defence of women and against the witch hunt, the fishermen of San Juan de Luz specifically. In return, the priest in charge denounced the entire Basque people as servants of the devil. (thanks Tristan who may have more notes about this)

    some resources/reading
    Self-identified as a Pagan, feminist, Witch, and anarchist, Starhawk also describes the creative aspects of the protests, which included “art, dance, celebration, song, ritual, and magic.” Throughout the book she describes the actions of Witches and the influence of women’s spirituality on the global justice protests. She refers frequently to the need to create a positive vision:
    “But I believe the system can be dismantled if we mobilize our radical imagination, if we create an alternative so inspiring and compelling that the masses of people who yearn for both freedom and abundance will join us.”

    “Caliban and the Witch” is a herstory of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Silvia Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and the conflict between body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labor power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization.

    In 1978 Arthur Evans published “Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture”.
    The book offered evidence that many of the people accused of “witchcraft” and “heresy” in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were actually persecuted because of their sexuality and ancient pagan practices.

    In 1997 “Critique of Patriarchal Reason” (included artwork by San Francisco artist Frank Pietronigro).
    The book is an overview of Western philosophy from ancient times to the present, showing how misogyny and homophobia have influenced the supposedly objective fields of formal logic, higher mathematics, and physical science.


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