What Is a Metawitch, Anyway? And Other Burning Questions

A FAQ of Sorts

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According to YourDictionary.com:

The definition of meta is a person or thing that is more than usual or that goes above and beyond.

The definition of a witch is a woman thought to be able to cast spells or possess magical powers, or the term connotes evil and can also be used to describe a mean old woman.

Therefore, a metawitch is a magical woman who goes above and beyond in her endeavors. This might make her unpopular.

Or, as we like to think of it, a metawitch is a woman who thinks for herself, thinks a lot, and doesn’t necessarily follow the rules, no matter who made them. An uppity or difficult woman who looks beyond the surface of a situation to figure out what’s really going on, then talks about what she finds.

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Meta-

From YourDictionary.com

The definition of meta is a person or thing that is more than usual or that goes above and beyond.

1-change in position or form, alteration, transposition: metathesis, metasomatism

2-after: metapneumonic

3-behind, at the back: metanephros

4-Origin of meta-  <supposed analogy to metaphysics>  going beyond or higher, transcending: used to form terms designating an area of study whose purpose is to examine the nature, assumptions, structure, etc. of a (specified) field: metalinguistics, metacriticism

5-between: metope

Origin of meta-

from Classical Greek meta, along with, after, between, among from Indo-European an unverified form meta from base an unverified form me-, between from source mid
Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/meta#8E8eedWbI9SZcVAB.99

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Witch-

From  YourDictionary.com

The definition of a witch is a woman thought to be able to cast spells or possess magical powers, or the term connotes evil and can also be used to describe a mean old woman.

Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/witch#DehDDEFKkKRGPtPl.99

1-FOLKLORE a person, esp. a woman, having supernatural power as by a compact with the devil or evil spirits

2-an ugly and ill-tempered old woman; hag; crone

3-a practitioner or follower of white magic or of Wicca

4-INFORMAL a bewitching or fascinating woman or girl

5-water witch (sense )

 

Origin of witch

Middle English wicche from Old English wicce, feminine of wicca, sorcerer, akin to Middle Dutch wicken, to use magic from Indo-European base an unverified form weik-, to separate (hence set aside for religious worship) from source Gothic weihs, holy, Old English wig, idol

 

  1. to put a magic spell on; bewitch
  2. ARCHAICto charm; fascinate

Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/witch#DehDDEFKkKRGPtPl.99

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Spiral Credit: Angelfire.com

Goddess Credit: Angelfire.com

What is Metacrone’s icon?

FacebookIconDiadelosMuertosWitch-LicensedVersionOriginalCopy-Cropped 6:21:18

This is a variation on a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead Calavera Catrina, a skull painted in festive makeup and dressed in finery to celebrate death and life. My icon was created by Kadriya Gatina, Blackspring. You can see more of her art at the link. She does fabulous work in many styles.

Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a multi-day celebration that has its roots in both Aztec culture and Catholicism. In Mexico, the two celebrations combined over the course of time to create this vibrant festival that honors ancestors and accepts death as a part of life. Because the festival has such deep roots, variations on it are celebrated all over the world, and it has become more popular over time.

In New Mexico, where I live, Dia de Los Muertos is a multicultural festival that spans more than a month of celebrations. Day of the Dead decorations can be found in stores at any time of year, especially variations on the sugar skull Calaveras. You can find skeletons performing any activity you desire, along with cats, dogs, etc. Brides and grooms are especially popular. We take the “Until death do us part” line in the wedding vows seriously!

The history of the female calaveras, often known as Catrinas, is complex. Female calaveras have roots drawn from the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of Death. The first direct ancestor of the Catrinas was created in 1912 by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada to satirize indigenous women who were wearing heavy makeup and European clothing in order to pass as white. Posada was a well known political satirist and this drawing was typical of his style.

The second Catrina was created by painter Diego Rivera (Frida Kahlo’s husband) in 1947 as part of a mural called “Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central” (“Dream of a Sunday Afternoon along Central Alameda”). Rivera gave the Calavera Lady a fully clothed body to match her head and hat. He placed her at the center of the mural, standing between a self-portrait and an image of Posada. “And [he] called her La Catrina, the feminine version of the Catrin, a bon vivant dandy in Mexican culture.” (Eluniversal.com). Rivera’s affectionate take on the character provided the name Catrina and is the source of her popularity.

There are many meanings for Calaveras and Catrinas, and there have been many types of them. In the 19th century, literary calaveras, in the form of satirical poems, were popular. These were meant to cut the living down to size by reminding them that death is the great equalizer. This is one of the messages of the Calaveras and Catrinas to this day. In the end, we are all equal. No one escapes death. There is no use in fighting it, so why not celebrate, relax and enjoy life?

I try to capture this complexity of life in my writing. We all need to relax and have fun, be a little silly and watch mindless entertainment. But what we watch also makes a difference, because it’s big business and because it affects people’s opinions. Because of that, if I see something I think is wrong, I want to point it out, rather than let it stand. I hope that I at least occasionally manage to do so with the grace, humor and affection of the Catrinas.

Do you hate men?

Of course not. We’re both daughters and sisters of men. We’re both romantically involved with men. One of us has a son.

But our culture has promoted the needs of men over the needs of women for millennia. Progress has been made in correcting this, but a bias that deeply rooted in a culture won’t disappear in a generation or two.

It’s understandable that men feel under attack. They’ve had certain automatic privileges all of their lives. When others begin to catch up, that feels like a loss, even though it’s just fairness kicking in.

We’ve encountered many men who have a difficult time with misogyny being pointed out at all. Some refuse to accept that it exists when we point to it, because it’s institutionalized and the accepted way that everyone has always done things. Some women refuse to believe that this type of misogyny exists at all or applies to them. That’s called internalized misogyny. It’s subtle and insidious. An institutionalized or internalized way of thinking doesn’t equate with a just or fair way of thinking. It only means that the person has bought what the power structure is selling them.

We have to check each other for ingrained misogynistic thinking all the time, because it’s so ubiquitous. The pressure to go along with it is so intense that we often don’t realize what we’re doing at first. We might only notice because of generational, cultural shifts that make it obvious to one of us, like cultural changes in sexual and dating practices over time.

We understand that most men are just going with the societal flow and doing what makes life simplest for them, without thinking through the impact of their actions. But most women aren’t in a position to be honest about how beaten down they feel by the status quo, and they convince themselves that they’re fine, because “go along to get along” is the way we do things in the USA. At Metawitches, we’re too ornery to shut up. Please stop asking us to.

We point out unfairness when we see it. Our focus is most often on male-female issues, because that’s what affects us most and what we’re most qualified to speak to, but we look at other issues too. We’re not trying to catch everything or solve everything, just raise awareness. There are so many overused stereotypes out there that we could write about them forever, like the rigid black male sidekick, the smart but ugly female best friend, the dumb but pretty female best friend, the trend toward making background characters diverse and disposable… But we’d rather write about plot and character, and slip these observations in with something more interesting.

 

Why Does Metawitches Keep Writing About Diversity and Violence Against Women When I Just Want to Read a Recap?

Because life is political, so is entertainment, and so is our blog. Because we know that the creators of the shows that we love can do better. If no one points out where the issues lie, how will they know where they need to improve?

We live in the real world, where mass media has an effect on people’s attitudes. It’s important to examine closely exactly what we’re being shown and what messages are actually being delivered. It’s the only way that change happens.

Whenever we start analyzing how a show is doing in regard to its male/female ratio and other forms of diversity, and compare how characters from different demographics are being treated, we are always met with the response:

But aren’t the male (and white) characters being treated the same way as the women?

This is where attention to detail becomes important, plus the ability to count, and the ability to distinguish between a named character and a background character. When we’re discussing violent acts, this argument is frequently made, because there will be so many more men running around on screen than women that, of course, in raw numbers, more violent acts are happening to men than women.

Let’s break this situation down.

First, ask yourself, why are all or most of the people in the background male? (By “background actors”, I mean those with no or few lines, such as extras and stunt people.) If the casting is skewed in a misogynistic way so that there aren’t women to begin with, then everything that happens will happen to men. This can also apply to the featured actors, by which I mean those with a few lines who might only appear in a scene or two, whose gender is irrelevant, such as a restaurant server or a cop.

This also applies to race in casting, though the trend these days is to cast diverse actors in the background and as featured characters, then have the violent acts happen to them. The darker the character’s skin, the more likely they are to die and to be involved in violence. I’m so sick of writing about black men who act only in one or two stereotypical ways. Please (scifi) TV writers, write about the majority of the black men in the world, who are a varied slice of humanity, like everyone else.

So, first, it may appear that more violent acts are happening to men because the ratio of men to women on a show is so out of balance. But if you look at the numbers proportionally, the women are far more likely to be killed or injured.

Second, we may be referring to the quality of the interactions, which is harder to define, but has to do with concepts such as respect and agency. It could be that in a given show, more men may die, even when looking at the proportions, but the men may have chosen to be involved in the violence, while the women were forced into it against their will. In other words, we consider which characters are the perpetrators and the victims.

Or the women may choose to be involved, which is called having agency, but they may be treated mainly as sex objects by both the creators and other characters. Or in other ways as objects, possessions, or tools to be used and discarded. Invisible women, who aren’t considered sexy enough to keep or are too smart to keep because they’re threatening to the male ego, are particularly likely to be used and discarded. This is generally written in such a way that the audience is supposed to find the woman unlikeable and the disrespect shown to her humorous and justified. This type of humor depends on institutionalized and internalized misogyny.

For an explanation of the terms invisible women, institutionalized misogyny and internalized misogyny, see our Guidelines for Spotting Misogyny in Media, linked in the sidebar of every page.

But it could be that, when you look at the speaking, named characters in a show who spend the most time on screen, the regular and recurring characters and the main guest stars, the women really are being given a raw deal, whether there are more or fewer of them in proportion to the men. You just didn’t notice it because we’ve been taught not to look at things this way and not to complain. And we’re taught that women deserve what they get. This is basically what the concepts of institutionalized and internalized misogyny refer to.

These ideas of respect, agency, institutionalized and internalized misogyny bring us to our third point. When we move beyond discussing violence, and look at the rest of the culture, how do we distinguish when the women are being treated with misogyny, while the men are being treated with humor? It begins with the idea of privilege, and who is culturally dominant in the situation.

As an example, in a work situation, a joke using insult humor comes across very differently when it comes from your boss than it does when it comes from a coworker on an equal level. And one joke might not mean much, but significant repetition might mean your job is in trouble.

This is the way demeaning humor and situations in entertainment feel to women and minorities. It’s not the same for a white man to be made to look silly or stupid, because he holds all of the power in the situation, even if he momentarily appears to have lost it. It’s hardwired into our brains to defer to him. This has been researched ad nauseam. Women stop talking when men start.

The whiter, straighter, more able bodied and minded and maler you present, the more this privilege applies. This is true in life and in entertainment. Obviously, we’re not suggesting that violence and humor in entertainment disappear. But what’s also true is that in the entertainment world, the whiter, straighter, more able bodied and minded and maler you are, the more likely you are the one dishing out the humiliation and violence. The darker, more queer, more disabled, or female you are, the more likely you are to be killed, harassed or humiliated.

If you are female, this means that your body and mind are not your own in a way that men only experience when they are prisoners. They consider the mental and physical violations which we endure on a regular basis to be the worst punishment imaginable. Because we are all so used to this situation, by the time we are adults, we don’t even see it as wrong anymore. This is inadvertently portrayed in entertainment 24/7, with the willing help of women.

So, no, the men are not experiencing the same things as the women, in quantity or quality. The creators might want you to think that, and they might even think that themselves, but look closer. The only way our culture will improve is if we expect people to do better.

Do better. Please.

A few sources:

NYTimes.com- When Talking About Bias Backfires

NYTimes.com- Speaking While Female

Time.com- How Not to Be ‘Manterrupted’ in Meetings

WashingtonPost.com- Women shouldn’t trust the men who call themselves allies

Variety.com- ‘Anyone Can Die?’ TV’s Recent Death Toll Says Otherwise

Vermont Public Radio- Pop Culture Politics: How TV, Movies And Books Shape Our Real-World Views

HuffingtonPost.com- We Don’t Need ‘Diversity’ In Film And TV. We Need Balance.

Hannah Gadsby Full Speech: “The Good Men” & Misogyny | Women in Entertainment-

 

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