It’s official, witches are back in. Can I hear a hallelujah? From television to music, fashion and even social media. The world’s gone mad with magical powers and I for one am hyped, but not just for the social acceptance and spooky vibes. There’s a deeper reason for my delight at this witchy revolt, and it involves us ladies.
Not that it’s the first time we’ve seen witches in pop culture, but recently TV hits like American Horror Story: Coven, Witches of East End, The Originals, and Sleepy Hollow have been busting out the wise woman archetype with gusto, and designers and high street stores galore have been pushing the spooky goth look on us with aplomb. If you look at Instagram right now, you’ll find sizzling sorceresses in their hundreds. It’s a cosmic coven of epic proportions out there.
There hasn’t been a surge in witchy popularity like this since the 90’s when the cult classic, The Craft, had us all in knee highs, chokers and black lippie, playing “light as a feather, stiff as a board” with our BWFs (best witch friends), and you know something else that was big in the 90’s?
And here we have the clincher of the article ladies and gentlemen.
The witch trend is all about female empowerment. It’s about reclaiming the feminine, embracing your dark side and literally giving no shits. You’re a badass babe with a magical mind and you ain’t afraid to use it.
This is a refreshing change to the last supernatural trend we had (there’s always one isn’t there?) which would be our friendly neighbourhood undead, the vampires.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m partial to a bit of hot vampire action any day – but let’s just pause and focus on how I phrased that… *linguistics degree rises its head* – I said “hot”, and “action”? These words don’t say “empowerment” or “badass self-love”, they just scream sex, and therein lies the problem.
The last decade has seen blockbusters like Twilight, and network faves like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries hogging the limelight – all chiselled jaws, steamy sex scenes and undead love triangles. But where’s the girl power of the 90s?
Sure, they all have female protagonists, but what these stories have in common is that they all revolve around a relationship with a pale and imposing boyfriend, meanwhile our heroine has about as much character development as a 1950’s ad for washing detergent.
You only need to look to the Bechdel Test to prove what I’m talking about here. The Bechdel Test is a great way to see how sexist your fave TV show is (I’m sorry – once you see you can’t unsee) and all it requires to pass is for two female characters to be on screen together, talking about something other than men.
Before you shout “oh but what about …” I’ve read the books, I’ve seen the films and the shows, and don’t get me wrong, they’re definitely entertaining, but with the exception of the masterpiece that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although mainly for Willow, who’s a witch, soooo point proven?), can you recall even one moment when the heroine wasn’t 100% focused on her man?
Name a time when Bella Swan wasn’t talking about her vampire beau Edward? And can you really tell me that Elena from The Vampire Diaries had any more personality than a bowl of muesli? (still rocking with the metaphors here) Yeah she’s hot and my gosh so are the guys, but there we go again. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more to work with than looks? Would it be so difficult to give our female characters a bit of sass? Some smarts and some personal issues that motivate them, make them angry, upset, make them real?
And that’s where the witches clean up.
In blatant contrast to our two dimensional, vampire-loving leading ladies, the witches are powerful, complicated and unapologetic. Just like real people.
The newest roll-out of magical screen goddesses are the likes of the ferociously fabulous and talented Jessica Lange in American Horror Story, Witches of East End’s super cool mum and aunt combo, and the complex character of Thomasin in the latest blockbuster horror, The Witch.
These women pass the Bechdel test with flying colours; they’re rich, deep and flawed, and have more on their minds than a spooky romance (though these aren’t ruled out either – we are human after all!).
And not only that, there’s also variety in those women too – again just like real life. Women of colour are still massively underrepresented in media, so are older women, but at least we’re starting to see an improvement in shows like American Horror Story and Witches of East End. And while these do still leave a lot to be desired in the diversity department, they knock the vampires straight out of the park, cos you know what?
In real life, magic doesn’t discriminate.
And thank goddess for it, cos these gender/race/age-biased vampire shows are all aimed at a female audience, a young, influential probably teen following, so it’s sad to see that these girls and women, real life diverse individual female powerhouses, just aren’t represented in the characters.
I say we need more witches in pop culture, if only so that the next generation of wise women have something more substantial to idolise, a smart, strong woman with balls, so to speak.
Witches aren’t just your average white college girl with a crush on a mysterious and handsome stranger. Witches are bright, complex and full of life. They’re weird and wonderful, multi-faceted individuals with a dark side, who put themselves, and magic, over men.
So don your black lippie and wide brimmed fedora, cos girl power is back with a vengeance, and ladies, it’s going to be wicked.
Naked Witch: The Society Pages
1950’s Housewife: Faithtap
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