THE ROLE OF GENDER IN ACCUSATIONS OF WITCHCRAFT: THE CASE OF EASTERN SLOVENIA
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The paper deals with the role of gender in the context of witchcraft. It focuses on the situation in a rural area in eastern Slovenia, where the author and her students researched witchcraft in 2000 and 2001. The meaning of a gender in witchcraft accusations is presented with respect to various levels and types of witch (social level – neighborhood witches, village witches; supernatural level – night witches; counterwitches). Among neighborhood witches (about whom people believe that they perform some kind of magic: placing eggs etc. in the hope that they will hurt neighbors; intentional praise), women are typically assumed to be guilty; men appear only in the subcategory of people with evil eye. Similar holds for all the subcategories of village witches, except for those who earned their reputation because of the assumption of their possession of a book of magic (where men predominate). Night witches (in the form of lights or vague presences which make it difficult for people to find their way) are always female (they are spoken about using the feminine gender; when they are recognized as people from the village, they are always women). In contrast, the ratio of men to women among counterwitches, to whom people turned for help against witches, rises dramatically. The most influential counterwitch whom people visited in this area was a men. The relationship between the sexes can also be seen through an analysis of (migratory) legends about witches whereby many of them reveal a concealed misogyny.
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