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Torture & Sexual Repression

How the Torture of Witches Revealed the Sexual Repression of Inquisitors


Torture & Sexual Repression: How the Torture of Witches Revealed Sexual Repression of Inquisitors

Torture & Sexual Repression: How the Torture of Witches Revealed the Sexual Repression of Inquisitors

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Connecting Sex & Torture

Interrogations of witches followed many standard Inquisition procedures, but with some added bonuses. Accused witches were all stripped naked, had all of their body hair shaved of, and then "pricked."

The sexually neurotic Malleus Maleficarum had become the standard text on how to deal with witches, and this book stated authoritatively that all witches bore a numb "devil's mark" which could be detected by sharp prodding. Inquisitors were also quick to search for the purported "witches' tits," blemishes which were supposed to be extra nipples used by witches to suckle demons.

Red-hot tongs were applied to womens' breasts and genitalia. Researcher Nancy van Vuuren has written that "The women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer." It should not be surprising that just about every torture victim eventually confessed.


Effectiveness of Sexual Torture

When people are tortured, and especially when the torture involves sexual abuse, it doesn't take long for the victim's world to become reduced to nothing but the pain and a desire for the pain to end.

When the only important thing is the cessation of pain, the victim will tell the torturer whatever they want to hear. It may not be the truth, but if the pain ends that's all that matters.


Blaming the Victims of Sexual Torture

If the men interrogating the witches were to become aroused, it was assumed that the desire originated not in them, but instead was a projection from the women. Women were supposed to be highly sexually-charged beings, while the celibate Inquisitors were supposed to be beyond such matters. Of course, the women were expected to admit that they were causing the interrogators to become sexually aroused, leading to a new round of questions and possible torture.

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