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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Witches can't have babies

...well, not according to the plot of The Witcher. It's a somewhat silly show but I am enjoying it. I would: what with my desire to be a witch. The witch in question, as opposed to the Witcher - a monster slayer with magical powers called Garalt, is Yennefer. She started out as a crook-backed pig-keeper and was then transformed into a stunning witch once she had developed her powers. The transformation made her infertile. She is now trying to find magic to reverse the infertility. Just adopt, Yen, there are plenty of orphans in the war-torn, monster-infested nations of the story. One thing that's impressive is that the same actress played piglet the ugly and Yennefer the stunning.

Anyway, they used to duck witches, didn't they? If they drowned, they weren't witches and if they didn't drown they were witches and could therefore be burned. A real lose-lose situation. One of the more horrible acts of epistemic oppression enacted by the patriarchy.

I've been thinking about this issue of epistemic injustice - where the knowledge of some (black folks, women etc) is not treated as knowledge. A good example is a black law professor who wanted to buy something in an up-market shop. There were people in the shop and the opening hours on the window said the shop was open, but when she went to enter, the shop assistant told her the shop was shut. This woman regarded it as a racist act - believing that the white shop assistants didn't think a black woman would buy, unlike the white customers in the shop. But when she told this story, people would say, oh maybe it was a private do, or maybe they were about to close, or maybe they don't like law professors. But the woman, who experiences incidences of this kind regularly and was actually there, has the better knowledge to judge. Had she been mugged, no one would question if she hadn't actually given her handbag to the attacker.

This, I think, relates to a lot of the animal stuff: when lab staff say 'This animal is suffering' they know, but if they are not granted full respect, their knowledge may be doubted.

So, maybe this is an area to explore more fully.

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