When you hear the word "witch" what do you think of?

A green, crooked-nosed woman wearing a black cape and a pointed hat, riding a broomstick in the night sky illuminated by a full moon?

Or do you picture Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries? Davina Claire from The Originals? Diana Bishop from A Discovery of Witches? Ingrid, Joanna, Wendy, and Freya Beauchamp from Witches of East End? Alice Quinn, Julia Wicker, Margo Hanson, and Kady Orloff-Diaz from The Magicians? Piper, Prue, and Phoebe Halliwell and Paige Matthews from Charmed? Sabrina Spellman from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Mallory, Madison Montgomery, and Cordelia Goode from American Horror Story: Coven and American Horror Story: Apocalypse? Hermione Granger from Harry Potter? Morgana Pendragon from Merlin? Maleficent from Disney's Maleficent? Melisandre from Game of Thrones? Cassandra Nightingale from The Good Witch? Marnie Piper from Halloweentown?

Over the last several decades, Western society has portrayed powerful women as witches. However, in most cases, such women are perceived as wicked by others despite being moral.

Why?

They are misunderstood. Because witches are strong, independent women who push boundaries, break the rules and punish patriarchal authority, people view them as a threat. They are considered dangerous as they potentially can bring about change in the world.

So, witches are sinister because they are radicals?

In one perspective, yes. Moreover, some witches are wicked; therefore, viewed as such. However, the main reason why witches have such a bad reputation is that of men and their fucked up beliefs. Once again, men are shown to be trash.

The word "witch" is so often associated with words like "evil," "manipulative," and "deceitful" because no matter how "good" or "bad" a witch is men view them as inferior to themselves. Therefore, if a witch was to become more successful than a man, men would spread lies about that witch to destroy her repute to regain their dominance and power over her, and ultimately, women in general.

I'm not following. Please explain.

Between the 14th and 18th centuries, thousands of people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and as a result, tormented, hanged, and burned at the stake. Although some men were put on trial, the majority of those convicted were women.

Often, such women punished were those who had much land, wealth, and/or influence. Additionally, any woman who had seduced a man was considered suspicious as it was believed only women with devilish powers could do such a thing since no man would willingly choose to be seduced by a woman. Yeah, okay…insert eye roll here.

And this is important because...?

History shows that accusations of witchcraft were used to police female behavior and that witches are in fact powerful, admirable, and appealing women revolting against the odds.

Witches have long been a symbol of fear because of their ability to outperform men.

However, now they are a symbol of fear because they embody feminism; furthermore, strive to change everyday life.

Bottom line?

If you think about witches as people, they start to come across as very different individuals. Instead of a group practicing magic, they are more like a group supporting women's rights and beliefs, including one's entitlement to not only having their voice heard but freedom to speak out against entrenched power. Hence, it's argued that witches advocate equality and fairness among every sex.

That said, with witches reclaiming female power, they have become the ultimate feminist icons.