On Tue, 22 Apr 1997, Maeve B. Callan wrote:
> >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.
Whether it's true or not, it's at least certainly not very well
> 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.
Not at all. I'm aware of the etymological connotations of the word
("the burning of the whole") and to me this suggests any reasonably
successful attempt to wipe out an entire group of people (though
"successful" is of course a relative term here: the Jewish Holocaust was
probably the most "successful", but "only" killed one-third of the world
Jewish population I believe). I've heard also "nuclear holocaust", of
course, and less frequently "Armenian holocaust". But if the "women's
holocaust" didn't even begin to come close to wiping out women from the
face of the earth, and if indeed it was not even intended to do that in
the first place, then is it really a "holocaust"? I doubt it.
> 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.
... so if the records are incomplete, then the estimates of the
number of victims must be purely speculative, which again militates
against the use of "holocaust".
> 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.
Yes, but as you've also mentioned most people killed for being
witches were women. I mention "heresy and blasphemy" because I think
it'd give a more balanced view to compare the total number of women
murdered by Christianity for religious reasons with the total number of
men murdered by the same people and for the same reasons.
> 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.
Fair enough, but don't you think this fact is a good reason not to
artificially separate the victims of the inquisitions by gender?