We, Sisters of Salem!

As soon as I saw the poster of Salem appear on IMDB I knew it would be the quick-fix replacement to American Horror Story: Coven that had ended not so long ago.

The portrayal of witches in this show is somewhat grim with the lead character suckling a toad on her thigh teat (ewww). It's a fantastical portrayal based on the stories that came out of the Salem Witch trials at the time. Ironically the issues it moves are deeply embedded within the pro-feminist movement, such as women having children without (married) partners, abortion and women being somewhat second-class citizens in a patriarchal society (oooh! out comes the feminist in me). Leaving aside these issues, I'd like to address not how women are portrayed, but how witches are portrayed.

I've always had a keen interest in all things metaphysical, as a kid I was collecting crystals, watching Most Haunted with bated breath and reading about craft practise, so naturally one of the things I cam across was Salem's history and ultimately The Malleus Maleficarum. If you skim through the Hammer of the Witch's you can easily see where the inspiration for this TV series is coming from, there seems to be a deep underlying familiarity that a woman with power, shunting gender roles, is a witch, and let's face it, women who chose the craft are (generally speaking) strong-willed people. Because of this, being condemned "a witch" throughout history was a method to keep women (and men from time to time) in check.

Too seductive, a witch! Too outspoken, a witch! Is not obedient to men, *definitely* a witch!

We must build a bridge out of her!

For this I resent the show a little but can't help still watch it, where American Horror Story portrayed the witches as resourceful and emancipated, Salem tends to denote that an emancipated woman must have something wrong with her (toads and nipples), I'm not really down with that but the way it gives historical context is interesting enough to follow although I find it a little bit degrading to the women that actually perished at the Witch Trials, guilty or not. I'm pretty sure they didn't do the toad/nipple thing, but then again you can never be too sure.