One thing we’ve been hearing a lot recently when a man — particularly a man a lot of people really like — is accused of something awful is that the accusations aren’t real but in fact are part of a baseless, bloodthirsty, politically motivated mass hysteria known as a “witch hunt.”
This is a relatively new usage of the term. Traditionally, “witch hunt” has been used in reference to the witch trials of early modern Europe and colonial America, during which an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 people were brutally tortured by being briefly ostracized at work and having a lot of people yell at them.
Whoops, sorry, my mistake! They were actually hanged, beheaded, or burned at the stake. Still, though. Very, very similar to the modern-day witch hunts against men!
Imagine, if you will, a fine woodcut print of a colonial witch burning. A town square, a black sky, perhaps a fat bristly pig. A massive bonfire crackles hungrily, and at its heart, three screaming women are bound to a post, burning to death in agony. Nearby, a group of angry men in pantaloons and buckled hats stoke the flames with long poles. A bat-winged demon harries the dying women from above, while all around the townspeople froth at the mouth and howl in a frenzy of bloodlust. Here and there, corpses litter the ground, but the townspeople seem not to notice or care. Some fricking knave beheads the pig with a sword.
Now, in case you’re not familiar with classic seventeenth-century iconography, I, an art historian*, have compiled a handy reference guide to what each of these elements represents:
* Honorary degree, Trump University.
Women burning to death = Men who did nothing wrong
Men stoking the fire = Feminists (third-wave, booooooooo!)
Demon = How Sharon’s butt looked in those pants
The fire = Call-out culture
Townspeople = The court of public opinion
The pig = Due process
The knave = Salma Hayek
Corpses = Free speech, comedy, human reproduction, the legacy of Matt Lauer
I think we can all agree that this fully checks out and that, indeed, it is men who are the true victims of witch hunts. Which they invented. To kill women.
From “The Witches Are Coming.” ©2019 Lindy West. Published by Hachette Book Group.