Witch. You hear the word, and your mind goes to think of a woman wearing a black hat and pointy shoes. She probably has a black cat or broomstick with her as well. Right? I'm sure at least one of those stereotypes popped into your head when you read the word "witch", don't even bother denying it.
The description I'm focusing on today is woman. In all the fairy tales, are witches not classed as feminine? The other stereotypes which are attached to this label are that they are always evil old ladies. I decided to talk about this stereotype today because I recently read The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, which features a male witch. Anther examples of male witches in literature is the character Troy from The Haunting, also by Margaret Mahy.
This attribute can be traced all the way back to the Salem witch trials in 1692, where people, mainly females were accused of being witches. I never really thought about male witches until I saw them in literature. I believe Witches and Wizards are different, and not just the same thing with masculine and feminine titles. So I think that neither should be associated with one gender alone.
Many childhood stories have this model. Witches are often known as being evil, and Wizards wise old men. I love reading books which defy the stereotypes. What I don't understand is why gender should influence whether you are stereotyped good or bad.
I like the idea of male witches because they fight against stereotypes, forcing you to question what you know and embrace the unknown so you can form new opinions about these century old stereotypes.
What do you think about gender stereotypes in fantasy?