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Is calling Margaret Thatcher a witch sexist?

By River Reporter Apr 14, 2013

“Witch” used to be a word that could send an innocent woman to her death, so why would you use that word today?

Sofia Capel

If there was ever a week where one should have avoided social media, this week was it. If I have to see another argument between friends about whether it’s wrong or right to celebrate the passing of Baroness Thatcher, I’m going to go ding-dong.

Which brings me to the latest discussion, the Judy Garland song Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead went in at number two in the charts. The song has been adopted as anti-Thatcher, and there was much debate over whether it was morally right for BBC Radio 1 to play a short snippet of the song on their chart show on Sunday.

Think of the origin of the word

I can see why the left hated Thatcher and it’s not for me to tell them how to react to her death. But why bring misogyny into it?

When you call someone a witch, do you actually know what you are saying? Do you know that it was once enough to point your finger at a woman and shout “witch” for her to get tortured to death? 

Witches were often medicine women, feared by men for their power and knowledge. A witch could also be the girl next door, whose love wasn’t mutual and who therefore should be punished.

Makes misogyny cute

It was during the 16th century, a time of rising crime and mass starvation, that the fear of witches grew stronger. Bad times tend to create mass hysteria and at these times a small group of people usually get the blame. 

Yes, I get the Wizard of Oz reference and yes I know it is just meant to be a bit of fun. I would say that it is at best an attempt to make misogyny cute. It doesn’t eliminate the fact that “witch” is like the n-word for women and people who consider themselves left wing should surely be the last ones to use it.

Male equivalent

Had Thatcher been male, would he have been referred to as the male equivalent of a witch: a wizard? Probably not, since ‘wizard’ is usually used as a positive term, as in former PM David Lloyd George, the Welsh wizard or ‘the man who won the war’. 

If you feel that it is important to celebrate the death of an old, demented woman who has been out of power for decades, that’s your choice.

But leave out the naughty words beginning with B, C, T and W. Misogyny is not the answer to this one. It is never the asnwer. 

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