In Defense of Witches

The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial

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Pub Date 08 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 22 Mar 2022

Description

Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches is a “brilliant, well-documented” celebration (Le Monde) by an acclaimed French feminist of the witch as a symbol of female rebellion and independence in the face of misogyny and persecution.

Centuries after the infamous witch hunts that swept through Europe and America, witches continue to hold a unique fascination for many: as fairy tale villains, practitioners of pagan religion, as well as feminist icons. Witches are both the ultimate victim and the stubborn, elusive rebel. But who were the women who were accused and often killed for witchcraft? What types of women have centuries of terror censored, eliminated, and repressed?

Celebrated feminist writer Mona Chollet explores three types of women who were accused of witchcraft and persecuted: the independent woman, since widows and celibates were particularly targeted; the childless woman, since the time of the hunts marked the end of tolerance for those who claimed to control their fertility; and the elderly woman, who has always been an object of at best, pity, and at worst, horror. Examining modern society, Chollet concludes that these women continue to be harrassed and oppressed. Rather than being a brief moment in history, the persecution of witches is an example of society’s seemingly eternal misogyny, while women today are direct heirs to those who were hunted down and killed for their thoughts and actions.

With fiery prose and arguments that range from the scholarly to the cultural, In Defense of Witches seeks to unite the mythic image of the witch with modern women who seek to live their lives on their own terms.

Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches is a “brilliant, well-documented” celebration (Le Monde) by an acclaimed French feminist of the witch as a symbol of female rebellion and independence in the face...


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Featured Reviews

This is an absolutely fascinating and hugely engaging book that taught me about one of my favorite historical subjects.

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A really wonderful historical read about witchcraft and witches, this book is a wonderful read and is extremely well-written.

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'In Defense of Witches' is a book that explores how the patriarchal witch invention has been perpetuated since the witch hunt days via women’s issues such as independence, motherhood, ageism, and health. Chollet argues that these “issues” represent the myth, symbol, stereotype, and image of the witch due to the misogyny and patriarchy that continues to control the world. The witch archetype was used as a tool of suppression in its heyday but still continues to exist in modern day societies through the topics that Chollet passionately explains. This is not a book that is meant to compare and contrast centuries old witch archetypes with the modern woman, but rather is meant to show how the witch hunt has continued to preserve and eternalize the subjugation of women. Chollet’s work will be an important contribution to the study of witches and gender going forward because she does not hold back in arguing that the past shameful history of witch persecutions continues to exist in the present day world amidst a flourishing amount of witch commodification.

Informative and thought-provoking, 'In Defense of Witches' argues that the embers from those burned at the stake continue to light fires in modern day society where women are still under threat from those afraid of her power.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Excellent read! Excellently researched! Was a great edition to my non-fiction November to-be-read list. I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in feminism, witchcraft, historical witch trials, and the systemic oppression of women.

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All in all, this is a great basic feminist book with witchcraft tropes as the basis. I have positive emotions but it's not a new favorite. There were a few points that I haven't heard about before and want to mention. First of all, anti-Semitism and demonization of witchcraft share words such as sabbath and synagogue. They also use common stereotypes to make them both "evil". They both have hooked noses and want to "destroy" christianity. I don't know why I've never made that connection or heard of that before. Both women and Jews have been used as scapegoats over history and the oppressors weren't creative in their stereotyping. There were a lot of quotes I really enjoyed by both the author and her sources. One is "Once curbed and domesticated, both women and nature could be reduced to their decorative function....". Another is “They exist outside the gaze of man, beyond that of most others, for their solitude is populated with works of art and with people, living and dead, dear as well as unknown, encounters with whom- whether in flesh and blood or in thought, through their oeuvres- forms the foundations to the women's sense of identity.” from Erika Flahaut. Since the author is French I've learned about women I've never heard about. This is interesting but can be dense. The translation was well done and made the reading a pleasure.

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This was such an eye opening read! I would love to read it again at some point as I feel like there is so much to take in that I couldn't do in just one reading. This will definitely make you think differently about why women are treated the way they are.

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This book is INCREDIBLE. Breaking down the historic witch hunts and how those archetypes still feed into the patriarchy of today, this book is engaging, well written and hard hitting. At times I was delighted by what I read, at other times I was so mad that we live in a society where this book can, and needed to be, written. This book also highlights some ways in which the concept of witch and the previous archetypes have been taken back from the men who used them against us, which thrills me.

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Today, news media and people in trouble still use phrases like "witch hunt" to describe what they find an unfair assault on the character of a person.  Writer Mona Chollet presents a highly researched look at witches as feminist icons.  The three types of women that she looks closest at are those who were most often accused of witchcraft. These include the independent women, the childless woman, and elderly women.   In Defense of Witches goes through the history of terrorism against women, censorship, and repression. This is definitely not an easy or happy read, so put that out of your mind at the start. 


Chollet's writing is impassioned and smart, exploring the myth and the factual of women living on their own terms. If you don't finish In Defense of Witches mad about misogyny, that would be surprising.  This book is long, filled with resources, and very clearly well researched. It is definitely more about women and the complications of fighting against a patriarchal system that can be damning.

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This was a very interesting read. I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely recommend to friends that may find it as interesting as well

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Publication date: March 8, 2022 (in English - it has been out for a while in French and most of the European languages).

<b>I have read the French edition and am basing my review off of that read.</b>

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches is a “brilliant, well-documented” celebration (Le Monde) by an acclaimed French feminist of the witch as a symbol of female rebellion and independence in the face of misogyny and persecution.

Centuries after the infamous witch hunts that swept through Europe and America, witches continue to hold a unique fascination for many: as fairy tale villains, practitioners of pagan religion, as well as feminist icons. Witches are both the ultimate victim and the stubborn, elusive rebel. But who were the women who were accused and often killed for witchcraft? What types of women have centuries of terror censored, eliminated, and repressed?

Celebrated feminist writer Mona Chollet explores three types of women who were accused of witchcraft and persecuted: the independent woman since widows and celibates were particularly targeted; the childless woman, since the time of the hunts marked the end of tolerance for those who claimed to control their fertility; and the elderly woman, who has always been an object of at best, pity, and at worst, horror. Examining modern society, Chollet concludes that these women continue to be harassed and oppressed. Rather than being a brief moment in history, the persecution of witches is an example of society’s seemingly eternal misogyny, while women today are direct heirs to those who were hunted down and killed for their thoughts and actions.

With fiery prose and arguments that range from the scholarly to the cultural, In Defense of Witches seeks to unite the mythic image of the witch with modern women who seek to live their lives on their own terms.

Witches are not evil.,..nor is my beautiful baby black cat! The history of persecution is well presented and may even change your mind about these women who are in tune with nature and the world around them better than most people are. It is decidedly feminist in nature and the fact that women are still being punished now is ... crackers. Read this book - you might change your mind.

I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames!

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🔮🔮🔮🔮🔮

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In Defense of Witches by Mona Chollet is an excellent nonfictional account of the history and evolution of the labeling of women through time and the subsequent treatment of the associated victims. Truly fascinating!

Through time, almost as old as history itself, women have been targeted, ostracized, blamed, and pointed at in times of uncertainty, instability, and change. Women whom have pushed the boundaries, not followed the lines, been slightly “different”, refused to follow societal constraints, or just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some were easier to blame then others based on many situations and personalities, but nevertheless it seems to be a similar occurrence despite the culture, the time period, or the place…and the author did a great job bringing forth all of these concepts, patterns, and presenting them in a well-researched book that was fascinating, terrifying, and yet incredibly interesting read.

It is clear the author has done her research, and I highly recommend this read for anyone interested in social history of women, the evolution of the concept of a “witch”, or just sociology in general.

Fascinating stuff.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

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Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial is bound to become a feminist classic of scholarly work on historic and often unnamed women, and how their legacies and stories intertwine with our own today.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and St Martin's press for the ARC. Opinions expressed are my own.

Mona Cholet's original in French deep dives into the witch trials of Europe and also delves into the impact of it in our current day including the representation of witches in media.

Witch hints in Europe started in 1400 and went through Renaissance rill 1560. The last ones were in the 18th century.

Mona explains her initial fascination with witches. It started with Snow white's witch who appears as a warty old woman.
She also tells the story of Flutter who lived alone on a mountain not caring what the local people thought. She was a bringer of positive news for her little village.
This lead to the author having a positive connotation for witches rather than the negative one that society has formed.

The oldest stories we have track women as evil or having evil intentions. Be it Pandora or Eve.


Witch-hunters are revealed as both obsessed with and terrified by female sexuality.
There was an intent by men to demonize women who held any kind of opinion.
Anything was construed as unworthy of women and therefore a witch trait.

I quote this from the book
"Talking back to a neighbor, speaking loudly, having a strong character or showing a bit too much awareness of your own sexual appeal: being a nuisance of any kind would put you in danger. According to a paradoxical dynamic familiar to women in all eras, every behavior and its opposite could be used against you"

Mona makes you realize how hard women had it. She has done extensive research on the witch hunts and trials and it shows.

I absolutely recommend this as a read for every woman.

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Not nearly as provocative as its title might suggest, Mona Chollet's "In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial" explores three types of women who were accused of witchcraft and persecuted:

1) The Independent Woman - especially celibates and widows
2) The Childless Woman
3) The Elderly Woman

Working within this framework, noted French feminist Chollet crafts an extensively resourced and researched collection of prose, personal reflections, and critical theory in determining that the legacy of the witch hunts continues and, as I think would likely surprise no one, women continue to be on trial in ways very directly connected to those witch hunts of yesteryear to this day.

If you're expecting some sort of poetic journey through the world of witchcraft, you will likely find "In Defense of Witches" a tiresome and perhaps even meandering read. Chollet, unsurprisingly for those who know her work, leans far more heavily into feminism than the fantastic and is absolutely relentless about doing so.

While the structure of "In Defense of Witches" may seem loose, it's a book that rewards those who persevere with it through the very end as Chollet's structure really comes to life when seen through the lens of its wholeness and it's Chollet's ability to argue both academically and personally that makes this a particularly impactful and effective work. You may not agree with everything that Chollet writes, and if you're not a feminist you likely won't, but it's practically undeniable that Chollet argues well and she documents precisely and beautifully.

There's a thin line of emotional resonance that radiates throughout the pages of "In Defense of Witches," a bit surprising given Chollet's devotion to academics but a line that gives the book an additional layer of power. "In Defense of Witches," I would dare say, is also a wee bit funny especially when Chollet lays into herself for her occasionally living into those gender stereotypes she works so passionately to derail.

I'm not sure I'd be considered the target audience for "In Defense of Witches," though I enjoyed it thoroughly and am undoubtedly influenced by it. I had to laugh a bit as I arrived about 2/3 of the way through the book only to realize I'd arrived at book's end with the remainder of its pages largely devoted to Chollet's remarkably extensive source material.

The ultimate conclusion, if you will, is that these witch hunts from the past continue in the present and are far from some romanticized period in our history. Indeed, they deserve to not be romanticized but to be permanently placed in the past along with all the other cultural and institutionalized forms of misogyny. Women have always been hunted down and killed for their thoughts and actions, though the methods have changed and the justifications varied.

With intelligence, insight, and tremendous wisdom, Mona Chollet has crafted an engaging and influential journey through feminism past and present and the price that women continue to pay for being women.

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This book was not what I was expecting but what I absolutely needed. I love how it pointed out all of the ways that women still face oppression today but wish it would’ve had more on the specific treatment of Black women and other Women of Color as they face sexism and racism. . Could definitely see this book being dissected in Women’s Studies’ classes for years to come.

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I received an advanced readers’ copy in exchange for an honest review

Very powerful book – definitely the most encompassing on this topic. Recommended for all feminists and women’s studies students to read. Definitely an important book of this moment. I will be passing it on to my fellow crones of a certain age.

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In Defense of Witches by Mona Chollet is a very well-researched yet very accessible look at how the witch hunts and the popular perceptions of witches has persisted to this day in different form but with the same intent.

While some would like a Readers Digest version of the book and have it stop after the introduction, it is in the details where the commonalities between witch hunts and current patriarchal restraints, both subtle and blatant, become evident. Just saying it is so does little to convince anyone, but showing instance after instance, interspersed with feminist theory, pulls the rug out from under any doubters.

It is often in the more low-key elements of culture that seeds are planted that grow into the timber that supports the patriarchy, so Chollet offers many instances from popular culture to highlight just how society tries to "keep women in line." If you've read or watched some of the texts discussed, you'll probably want to revisit them. Not only to see what you may have overlooked but to also better understand how to actively engage with other texts in the future.

I was personally most interested in the ways that the witch hunts we widely think of as a thing of the past have simply morphed into more subtle, and in some ways more sinister, forms of control and punishment. Looking at the information as laid out for the reader, I have a much better understanding and appreciation for the various ways women can and do re-appropriate not only words but indeed their own sexuality and make them work to their benefit and happiness rather than as means of controlling them.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

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The subject matter is compelling, as it affects the lives of every woman who’s ever lived since the first witch was born. As a woman who’s experienced her unfair share of oppression, I jumped at the chance to read this book.

This is not a book to be taken lightly. The subject matter and the way it is so thoroughly examined can be exhausting to read. I took it in small doses, as I needed frequent breaks to think about what I’d just read. I suspect this well-researched (there’s 562 footnotes!) book will end up in many Women’s Studies classes.

What kinds of women are persecuted? It was an eye-opener to realize that I fit all three categories the author chose to examine: The Independent Woman, The Childless Woman, and I’ve recently started edging my way into the Elderly Woman. It’s no wonder I’ve felt the need to defend my lifestyle and beliefs ever since I first moved out on my own. The witch hunts have never ended, and we need to recognize that.

My thanks to author Mona Chollet, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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I found In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial to be interesting to read. I am giving it three and a half stars.

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Really well written and hugely engaging. I devoured this book in one sitting.

Thank you NetGalley for this arc

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In Defense of Witches is a non-fiction book about the connections between witch hunts and modern-day feminism. It explores the three types of women who were accused of witchcraft most often: the childless, the elder, the independent. It's easy to notice that these archetypes are also the ones most judged in today's world: our society constantly evaluates women based on their age, their relationship status, and their fertility.

The history of witch hunts, which mostly comes up in the introduction to the book, is truly fascinating. As Chollet mentions, there isn't another mass crime in human history that is treated with such lightheartedness. We tend to think of witches either as scary horror characters or more modern 'girlbosses' with crystals and sage from Amazon, and we often forget that these women were real people who died for no reason. In the later chapters, Chollet mostly focuses on the way we treat women today, and while that is equal parts interesting and enraging, I wish we got more of the history of witch hunts. I was very happy that Chollet's approach to the feminism she writes about is intersectional, and she doesn't focus only on white women.

Overall, In Defense of Witches is a well-researched and thought-provoking read that uses a horrifying moment in history to help us understand why our society looks the way it does currently.

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I am so glad I requested this book! What an excellent look at the realities that surrounded witches throughout the centuries. Witches have long had a unfair reputation, and one of the most interesting things to learn is where the truth lies within the myths--so many of these myths revolving women and assumptions. Chollet did an excellent job not only explaining these things, she did it in a way that is understandable and accessible. An excellent book and I'll be recommending it!

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This was quite an interesting read. It was very well done and thoroughly researched. It was packed full off lots of fascinating information. I will be recommending this one to friends.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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This was one of those books I was skeptical to request, but ultimately I am very glad I did. I am tired of reading books on the history of witchcraft written by men. It's not a man's story to tell and I think Mona Chollet pulls off one of the best works of modern non-fiction about the subject as a whole. Very informative, but with such adventure filtered into the blood of this masterwork.

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This. Book. Phew. My biggest problem with it is that I probably highlighted half of the book and wanted to immediately share quotes and have to wait until pub day! Absolutely fascinating, amazingly written, and food for my feminist witch soul.

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In Defense of Witches wasn’t at all what I expected, but I loved it!

The beginning of the book speaks heavily of witches. As it moves on, though, witches are mostly left behind so that we can explore many things throughout history that have been unfair for women. You’ll see many quotes from people, studies, etc. to back up what the author thinks. And her thought process is almost always spot on.

Women were once hung or burned as a witch if they were “difficult.” We also have a seemingly unending list of issues involving work, the ability to not have a child, being kept out of the healthcare industry until relatively recently, etc. All of these topics are covered in this ode to feminism. A very good read that I recommend to women and men, as long as they’re willing to actually listen to the author’s arguments.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC. This review contains my honest, unbiased opinion.

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Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches is a “brilliant, well-documented” celebration (Le Monde) by an acclaimed French feminist of the witch as a symbol of female rebellion and independence in the face of misogyny and persecution.

A MUST READ FOR ANYONE!

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I highly recommend strongly that all women and young girls read this body of work. The author examines the archetype under our patrichael misogynist culture of the moniker "Witch" when referring to independent, , successful, talented, widowed or solitary women .

The author delves into the past used to vilify and murder independent women, widows and elderly women throughout our culture and still today. As the author moves through the times we see how in today's culture independent single women,, our elderly women and successful women who prefer to live on on their own are vilified by mysogany and hate of women that permeates our lives, the media and culture. I appreciate the detail and case studies the author has inclusive here to mysogany.

The author presents us the facts of over 100,000 single, widowed and elderly women have been murdered over time labeled as "Witches" to justify their deaths. Today women are still being murdered in Africa labeled as "Witches". Entire generations of women have been murdered in the US and in Europe. . In the US today most people are ignorant to the witch trials that took place in Europe. In the US women are now attacked in the media, openly in our culture by the misogynist hate . The independent women choosing to be childless, or live alone are under attack in their careers and personal lives. The elderly woman is ridiculed in the media and used to glorify the "witch" moniker by misogynist. As a elderly woman I myself have been called a "Witch" by many young people in public simply for existing. No woman standing on her own two feet and living independent of the "misogynist ideal" is safe from scrutiny and ridicule. It is this level of hate and attack on women that exist openly today that we women must educate ourselves against and stand against. The author speaks to the women that read this book and empowers us all .
This is a must read for all women and young women. It is a important body of work that speaks to our survival under this male oriented patrichael society. Very well done and a book i highly recommend for all women.

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Mona Chollet discusses the witch archetypes that are still attacked by the patriarchy today: the Independent Woman, the Childless Woman, and the Elderly Woman. All of these women are attacked by the patriarchy because they don’t uphold some value of the patriarchy or sometimes even attack certain aspects of it. This book covers the history of each one, how the patriarchy censors and/or attacks them, and how they’re wrapped up in modern feminism. The continued persecution of women who fall into these archetypes show society’s eternal misogyny.

This book is heavier on the feminism aspect than the witchcraft aspect so if you’re coming into this looking more for the history of witchcraft, there are other books that will do this better. While it does discuss it, it is predominantly in the introduction. However, as someone who is two of these three archetypes, and with each year growing closer to the third, this book was interesting, but at times not exactly eye opening. I’ve experienced some of the passive-aggressive commentary myself, thankfully not from my family.

The great thing is that Chollet doesn’t solely focus on white women. Her research is intersectional, but it still could have done more. However, I can just appreciate that she did branch out a bit. I would be curious to see what BIPOC readers think about this book, but I haven’t been able to find enough reviews of it (at least in English).

Overall, I found this to be really interesting. Looking at how the witch hunts have evolved over time to something that is more subtle, but equally pervasive, and in some ways even more menacing is interesting. I think this would make a great read for book clubs, especially for women, however, I would be equally interested in seeing what men come away with. All in all I would say give it a read if it sounds interesting. Also, it appears longer than it actually is, 40% of the kindle version I have is Chollet’s extensive list of sources.

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Thank you, NetGalley, Mona Chollet, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book. It releases on March 8th, 2022.

“By wiping out entire families, by inducing a reign of terror and by pitilessly oppressing certain behaviors and practices that had come to be seen as unacceptable, the witch-hunts contributed to the shaping the world we live in now. Had they not occurred, we would probably be living in very different societies.”

IN DEFENSE OF WITCHES
It always amazed me how many people in America were only aware of the Salem Witch Trials, not the reign of terror that swept Europe for centuries, that claimed the lives of thousands of women. Not only that, they don’t know that witch-hunts still occur today. In Northern Ghana, there are at least six witch camps. In Defense of Witches by Mona Chollet analyzes the treatment of women since the witch-hunts and how they contributed to the shaping of our society today. She looks at 3 main aspects: independent women, childless women, and elderly women. Women are not alone in being persecuted as witches. Men have also fallen victim to accusations but they make up a considerably smaller percentage and most men that were accused were more likely to receive a trial. It shows that the witch trials were deeply rooted in sexism and misogyny.

“The campaign led between 1507 and 1593 in twenty-two villages in the region of Trier, In Germany–the starting point and also the epicenter, along with Switzerland, of the witch hunts–was so relentless that two of the villages, only one woman was left alive; in total 368 women were burned.”

IN DEFENSE OF WITCHES
Historians believe that approximately 50,000 to 100,000 women were executed but this does not include those who were murdered, committed suicide, died in prison, or died from the torture inflicted on them. Many women were banished, reduced to live the rest of their lives in extreme poverty, and suffered from more abuse. The accusations were often associated with meeting with the devil and therefore had religious connections. Oftentimes, Jews were included in these accusations because there were claims that women and Jews wanted to attack Christianity. In 1233, Pope Gregory IX proclaimed that cats were the devil’s servants, and in 1484 Pope Innocent VIII proclaimed that cats that were with women were considered familiars, and the cats were burned along with the accused. This actually led to the rise of rats and because of that…the rise of disease—which was blamed on witches.

This book is a powerhouse of information and not pleasant information. One cannot help but feel angry. Independent women-the unmarried and widows were seen as unnatural as they didn’t have a man for guidance. The childless woman insinuated that she was heartless because who wouldn’t want a child. There has always been the criminalization of contraception and abortion. Then the elderly woman is seen as a woman who has outlived her usefulness and their experience is seen as a problem. But I also appreciated how in the fight for equality, the author dives into how white women left women of color behind in that fight and how privilege plays a factor.

While the argument is precise and organized, it does end abruptly. Some arguments had a tendency to be a little repetitive, but I overall thought the book is very well researched. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet is an intriguing read and a powerhouse of information. Many people are aware of the Salem Witch Trials, not the reign of terror that swept Europe for centuries and claimed thousands of women's lives. In Defense of Witches looks at not only the sordid history of the burning of innocent women accused of being witches in Salem and elsewhere, but establishes how that history is still influential today.

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Nonfiction books about witches typically fall into two categories - the historical horrors of trials and executions or 21st century witchcraft guides for the modern practitioner. In Defense of Witches is something altogether different in its universality and resonance and application. While this book covers significant historical ground, the modern day context is not meant to serve as a how-to guide, but rather as a deep and nuanced exploration of the myriad ways women continue to live in a society shaped by centuries-old societal and cultural norms, misogyny, and fear. "We are the granddaughters of the witches you weren't able to burn," and yet we continue to live out the sentence in many ways, both veiled and overt. Scholarly yet accessible, In Defense of Witches opens with the invitation to envision the first witch who captured our attention. For me, it was Glinda from The Wizard of Oz, and later Samantha of the television show Bewitched - and still later Gillian from Bell, Book, and Candle. Magical, dynamic, beautiful, smart, and usually with a cat around. Those characters would shape my perceptions about witches - and inform my own development in profound ways. The conclusion of this book is a powerful reminder of our own agency and potent to call to action to harness the "joy of audacity" in shaping a new legacy - one of humanity, equity, harmony with nature, and "the untrammeled enjoyment of our bodies and our minds." So mote it be.

Chollet, a Swiss journalist and author living and working in France, first published this book as Sorcières in French in 2018. This is its first English translation and is important for U.S. audiences' understanding of the European historical references vs. contextualized vis a vis Salem or the like.

I received a digital pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I'll be including it in a TBR round-up for Women's History Month in March.

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This is an in depth examination of the persecution of witchcraft and its effects on the modern ways in which women encounter discrimination.

A dense read, but that is primarily because of the academic nature of the writing. There is a lot of very interesting information spread over a wide variety of chapter subjects. And it was fascinating to get more on the witch trials outside of the United States.

I expected the parallels between the reprisals against witchcraft and the restraints against women to stretch through the entire book. Instead, most of the pertinent and thoughtful connections exist in the introduction, and the rest of the book contains only minor notes about witchcraft. For example, in the chapter on women’s aging, the book mentions that gray hair was often associated with witches. And then the text moves on.

While there is the occasional mention of the impact of race, class, or transness on the persecution in the book, there is not as much examination of intersectionality as there I wanted. There are small mentions, including the story of Tituba, a black slave accused of witchcraft in Salem, MA. But some chapters have nothing, most noticeably where it would have been relevant. The chapter on childbirth and motherhood takes no time to address that black women are at greater risk of maternal death than other ethnicities.

The fact is, while this book has a lot of fantastic information, it tries to do too much, with chapters on aging, healthcare, relationships, motherhood, and environmentalism. And the common thread of witchcraft is not as interwoven throughout the text as it could have been.

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this advance reader’s copy.

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Such an important and mind blowing book. Mona Chollet puts the Witch as the idea behind (some cases of) misogyny in an impeccable way, so grateful for her "obsessive" research.

There were some points that I of course already knew of since I'm not new to feminists text, but I've never thought about witches, and the massacre that men did with them, being the origin of these problems. My favourite chapter was the one connected with motherhood and I think I highlighted everything. When I finish the book, i really wanted another chapter because of how immersed I was, it was really approachable and the traduction was really easy to read but at the same time eloquent. Would love to buy this book for my mom, reading about this and how much it hurts women is a thing, but seeing it in person is heartbreaking and I know she would love and appreciate this book as much as i did. Hope my self of the future reads this again and remembers how important this is.

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I enjoyed reading In Defense of Witches as much as doing so infuriated me. This is an impeccably researched historical account of how the witch archetype has been around for centuries and continues to be used to manipulate and control women.

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In Defense of Witches was well researched, informative and thought provoking. Witches have always had a unfair reputation, and have often been persecuted in modern society. The author does a fantastic job of showing the ways that women still face oppression today. I definitely recommend this book, it is very impactful.

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange of my honest opinion.

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In Defense of Witches is one of the best books non-fiction books I’ve read in years. This is not lighthearted fare but a well researched, seriously deep dive into the social conditioning of/surrounding women and how we’re perceived, treated, expected to behave/live our lives, etc…The ways we’re conditioned to consider the (mis)treatment of women are so pervasive that we often don’t even notice/acknowledge them consciously until they’re spelled out for us…and this book SPELLS IT OUT in an unflinchingly honest way that you can’t ignore or unsee, and I think that’s so important and necessary.

The section on motherhood was especially poignant for me and brought up a lot of intense emotions. I think so many women will find it so relatable, it gives words and life to emotions/feelings/thoughts so many of us have about our experiences that we feel obligated to politely ignore or suppress. I can’t even begin to count how many sections I highlighted, how many times my eyes filled with tears, or how many times I screamed UGHHHH YESS! in my head while reading this book. This should honestly be a must-read for every female identifying person, and probably everyone else besides as well. I will absolutely be recommending it to all the women in my life and making sure my own daughter reads it when she’s older.
Thank you so much to St Martins Press for providing me with this eARC.

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Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this advance digital galley, in exchange for an honest review. Of note--this was the first time I was actually invited to download a book by the publisher, so I was eager to do so!

In Defense of Witches has an interesting thesis, noted in its subtitle “The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial”. The them is essentially that the witch hunts were all about society’s (men’s) efforts to control women, and misogyny that continues today exists as remnants of those efforts. The book examines this on several levels, in different areas—historically, socially, in the workplace, in specific fields—making many valid, well-documented points.

The first two chapters focus heavily on when women choose not to have children and how society treats this choice. The third looks at the differences between how men and women age, or how society treats them differently as they age. These sections were clear, organized, focused on the topics. I was occasionally reminded that the book was written and published in Europe, as it would refer to resources in French, and mention how things were in America.

The fourth chapter confused me. It began very much in the first person, and I wasn’t quite sure what message the author was trying to get across (although it did suggest some authors and works that I have since added to my reading list). It seemed to address a potpourri of topics that the author did not want to leave out, including the relationship between women and the natural world, women’s place in academia, women’s place in medicine and how women are treated by the medical profession, and archetypes.

And then the book ended—this further confused me, because my electronic version showed me at 66%, and I was expecting more of a conclusion, but the remainder was footnotes.

So, to conclude, this book gave me a lot to think about—if I had had a hard copy, I expect that it would now be full of highlighted sections and notes in margins. I believe it will probably find a home in women’s studies classrooms. It definitely has a lot to say—perhaps it tried to say a little too much?

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This book traces the progression of patriarchal attacks on female power, from the European witch hunts to the present day. It's a fascinating and informative text, engaging and easy to read.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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This is a unique book, and very interesting. It starts with the Witch Hunts, but continues on through today. Mona's deep look is a look at how the same types on women are still persecuted even today. This is a fascination and interesting read.

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This was a great historical look at how witch hunts have affected women, even in today’s society. My one thing is that this was obviously written in another language (French) and then translated, which is fine but it added a disconnect. In all, I really enjoyed the way this book was formatted.

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A very interesting book with a very inaccurate titles. Witches feature prominently in the intro and then periodically throughout, but if you're looking for a history of witches and witch trials, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for a more general book about feminism, then this is a solid read. For those who have studied the topic in depth, these's not a lot of new material here, but for those just getting into feminist thought, this could serve as a great, not-too-academic intro text. It's well written and researched and presents both American and French perspectives, which is somewhat rare in most feminist literature.

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An interesting book. I've known about the Salem witch trials but not about what was happening in Europe. Witches/women were always the healers. They knew what herbs/plants to mix to help heal people. I never knew what drove them out and it's sad that they have not regained their prominence. Women are being attacked in the USA for their reproductive health care and that is wrong. We are not stupid. As for our beauty, keep it simple. Body shaming is still not right. Men and women are still judged by different standards. Find love where ever. It shouldn't matter the color of your skin or sex. It's hard enough to find the person you want to walk through life with without adding obstacles.

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This is a translation of a previously published work in French, which makes a lot of sense as many of the author's references are French/based in Europe.

I found this book quite interesting. As someone with a degree in psychology, who learned all about how witchcraft was diagnosed as a mental illness, and as a feminist, this non-fiction narrative hit many of the right notes for me. It is important to remember that men have always used methods to have control over women and their agency, and witches/witch hunts are a prime example of this. In 1400s it was the Malleus Maleficarum, and in our present date it's... well you can figure it out.

In the 1890s, women started to take back the title of witch and transform it into a feminist manifesto. For example, did you know that in 1939, Frank L Baum created the first "good witch" in Glinda? Hilary Clinton being labeled a witch during her presidential run ? Well good, that just means she is powerful.

This book utilizes media, pop culture, historical figures, court cases and global practices to demonstrate how women are treated from motherhood to being child free, from how women aren't taken seriously by medical professionals and the invisibility as we age. From Gloria Steinem and the discourse (and fear of) independent single women to Broad City and women's experience with greying hair, Chlollet takes on a journey of all the ways in which women are still targeted and persecuted for straying from the "norm".

I do admit that I was hoping for more information about the actual witch trials/history of that period. Further, many of the references were dated or were European and therefore I didn't relate to this book as much as I had hoped as it wasn't as current/relevant to me, however, overall I think the author sheds light on the very important topic of the treatment of women and has done a great job of researching the facts to support these points.

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Mona Chollet’s In Defense of Witches is an adept interweaving of past and present as it explores the connections between the witch hunts throughout history and feminism today.

Chollet focuses on three categories of women who were most often accused of witchcraft: the childless, the elderly, and the unattached. The parallels between the past and the present are on full display throughout as Chollet weaves a narrative that is both interesting and at times infuriating (if only because we haven’t come as far as we should have in the intervening years).

In all, the book is both thought provoking and impeccably researched, and the way that the author weaves the past and the present together is as impactful as it is didactic.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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If you are interested in the history of witch trials and the status of women through history this is a must read. I found it informative, enlightening and infuriating. It shows the reader how far women haven't progressed and that is the infuriating part. From the history of witches to the current status of women in society, this is a very well researched and very readable book, a book that will keep me thinking about it for a considerable time.
My thanks to the publisher, St. Martin's and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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I tried so hard to finish this one but I just couldn’t get into it. And I really wanted to read this too!! I think this may be a just not right now read for me. I will come back and update my feedback once I am able to read this one.

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A really great book about the history of the witch hunts and witches, clearly laying out the ulterior motives behind them.

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!

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Mona Chollet successfully balances evidence from historical and contemporary society to reach readers. She compiles compelling facts about witches, womanhood, and the ways that women are oppressed because of the intersection of the two. Personally, I've never given much thought to the witch hunt's impact on women's societal and domestic roles. However, Chollet's novel reveals the subtle, or perhaps overt, connections between the witch hunt and the modern war on women. I could read Chollet's research every day.

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who were the women who were accused and often killed for witchcraft? What types of women have centuries of terror censored, eliminated, and repressed?
This book was simply fantastic. The author dives deep into the kind of women that were accused of witchcraft. And spoiler alert, none of them were really witches. This should be mandatory reading for everyone, especially in today's society

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A super interesting deep dive into the history of women accused of witchcraft. Loved the feminist take, and this is super timely given what is going on here in the USA.

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Mona Chollet's In Defense of Witches is an interesting cultural history about the persecution of women through exploring the history of witch hunts. I found the pieces about the history of witch hunts to be really interesting, but the writer loses a bit of steam when exploring current day misogyny and persecution. Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to people looking for offbeat feminist texts.

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This was an interesting take on the witch trials and the ways women are still on trial. I loved it!

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.

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