SATANIC PANIC AND THE FEAR OF WOMEN
Most non-Satanist Americans probably don’t recognize the phrase “Satanic Panic” anymore. This phase of moral panic and legal hysteria has mostly become a historic curiosity—and unfortunately, so has its lessons about religious misogyny.
That seems odd, doesn’t it? It appears that prosecutors, who rarely even bother to investigate women for sex crimes, suddenly start believing women are much, much more likely to commit sexual assault if they also think those women are involved with the devil.
And why not? Society is always eager to pin the “crime” of Satanism on women.
“All wickedness is but little next to the wickedness of women” says the noted 15th century witch hunter’s manual Malleus Maleficarum, itself quoting the book of Ecclesiasticus.
King James I, whom you may know from his all-time bestseller, The Bible, wrote in his less popular work Demonology that every male witch had 20 female accomplices:
“The reason is easy, for as that sex is frailer than man, so is it easier to be entrapped by snares of the devil, as was ever well proved to be true by the serpent’s deceiving of Eve at the beginning, which makes him the friendlier with that sex since.”
Indeed, when it comes to witch hunting and misogyny, it’s usually all about Eve. “Witchcraft started in the Garden of Eden,” Philip Adetiloye writes in his book The Devil’s Template. In fact, Adetiloye goes so far as to claim that the serpent was actually Eve herself.
Note that The Devil’s Template is not an antique witch hunter manual. Adetiloye published in May of 2016.
So when Satan popped up in the 80s, the same old witch hunter playbook came out. “This paranoid sociology barely concealed fear that the sexual revolution engendered a New Woman succubus,” reporter Debbie Nathan wrote in her book Satan’s Silence.
Women had gone and gotten all uppity in the prior decades, which of course made them suspect. And what did society suspect these suspect women of? The usual: witchery and child eating. Because an old slur can always learn new tricks.
Of course, we all later learned that most of these women were not even Satanists, much less child molesters. The only nationwide conspiracy to exploit children and remain above the law going on at the time was the Catholic church.
No women allowed there, you’ll notice. Maybe that’s the reason it slipped under the radar for so long. But they don’t take eyes off of those serpent-kissing women for a minute…