Patriarchy creates a “double-bind” for women who live under its system. Women are expected to concede that patriarchy is entirely rational and reasonable and that they are treated well under it. Those who do not concede this are treated as if they are both irrational and unreasonable, though patriarchal projection, and are candidates for re-education.
The question that patriarchal logic does not permit is whether it is reasonable to expect women to live happily under a system of patriarchy. This indicates that patriarchy is an ideological system that is concerned with maximizing its control.
In Medieval times, a woman who gained social power was subjected to a patriarchal “test” to see whether her heart was pure. For her to be proven pure, she had to lose her will to live. Should she fail the test, by maintaining her struggle to survive, she was shown to be of impure heart. This meant that she was condemned to die for her sins.
The particular test was the dunking of witches: “If they floated they were guilty of witchcraft, if they sank they were innocent but would have usually drowned anyway.”
Under the existing patriarchal culture, the dunking of witches no longer occurs in a literal way. This does not mean that the fear of witches has disappeared from patriarchal consciousness, only that it has weakened somewhat. In another sense, however, the method of removing “witches” from society has been refined and made more subtle. These days, a “witch” is someone who is angry at having to live under patriarchal control. While her “evil” status is more figurative, the measures taken against her are no less real than in the past.
Although one’s will to live is expressed in terms of this righteous anger, the patriarchal system views this anger as being indicative of an impure attitude concerning its system of power relations. Only a docile woman, accepting of patriarchal control, is acceptable. The angry woman has to be punished, to bring her into the state of submission of her docile sister.
Only then will she be considered to have been “redeemed”. But, by what?
In the olden days, it was claimed that Christianity had finally saved her, the drowned witch. Now, it is claimed not too differently, that “rationality” and reason have saved her from her inner savagery. In neither case is she actually saved. Nor are the attributed causes of her “salvation” in any way true.
Rather: it is raw patriarchal power that has destroyed her in both cases.