In contemporary usage… the words ‘crone,’ ‘witch,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘virgin’ describe women as threatening, evil, or heterosexually inexperienced and thus incomplete. In prepatriarchal times, however, these words evoked far different images. The crone was the old woman whose life experience gave her insight, wisdom, respect, and the power to enrich people’s lives. The witch was the wise-woman healer, the knower of herbs, the midwife, the link joining body, spirit, and Earth. The bitch was Artemis-Diana, goddess of the hunt, most often associated with the dogs who accompanied her. And the virgin was merely a woman who was unattached, unclaimed, and unowned by any man and therefore independent and autonomous. Notice how each word has been transformed from a positive cultural image of female power, independence, and dignity to an insult or a shadow of its former self so that few words remain to identify women in ways both positive and powerful. — Allan G. Johnson, “Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them or an Us” (1997)
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