>Holocaust \Hol"o*caust\, n. [L. holocaustum, Gr. ?, neut. of ?, ?, burnt
>whole; "o'los whole + kaysto`s burnt, fr. kai`ein to burn (cf. Caustic): cf. F.
>holocauste.] 1. A burnt sacrifice; an offering, the whole of which was
>consumed by fire, among the Jews and some pagan nations. --Milton.
>2. Sacrifice or loss of many lives, as by the burning of a theater or a ship.
Labeling this systematic violence against women a holocaust is, I believe, a
result of recent (as in last 20 years or so) scholarship, but that doesn't
make it any less true. I think the term may be so closely associated in
your mind with what was perpetrated by the Nazis that you are defining
anything else by its precise characteristics. Technically, however, it
describes the burning times exactly. And some estimate that the total loss
of life for this particular holocaust exceeded a million individuals, but as
I said before the records from this period are often unclear and incomplete.
I'm a little confused as to your point "obviously not for witchcraft, but
for heresy and blasphemy", since Ruadh and Sharon have succintly shown that
witch is a gender-inclusive term. Also the line between witchcraft, heresy,
and blasphemy was often non-existent in the eyes of the Inquisitors. Not
that every heretic was considered a witch, but a witch, if 'originally'
Christian, was a heretic and the alleged acts that designated her (or him)
as a witch were considered blasphemy.
Btw, I'd like to correct an omission of a couple of crucial letters - it's
Malleus Maleficarum - the Hammer of the Witches - what I accidentally wrote
means something like the evil-deed hammer. oops (or perhaps more fitting,
considering what it was used to legitimate)
At 03:46 AM 4/22/97 -0300, Neil wrote:
>Now the word "holocaust" would imply
>millions and millions of dead, over a certain period of time but not
>over centuries. And "women's holocaust" would imply that the number of
>female dead far outstripped the number of male dead for *similar*
>offences (obviously not for witchcraft, but for heresy and blasphemy)
>over the same amount of time. It is *that* which I haven't heard of,
>and which very few other people have heard of either. Am I wrong -- is
>the term "holocaust" being used realistically here, or instead to
>describe a process which killed thousands, not millions, and which spanned
>different centuries and continents, rather than happening in one place
>(e.g. Europe) and within a span of several years? Because if it is, then
>this is probably why I've never heard of the term "women's holocaust" --
>because it is so inaccurate that it has little currency.