Radical Yoruba Female Sexuality

The Witch and the Prostitute
  • Judith Hoch-Smith


Ritual and symbolic representations of women in many cultures are metaphorically grounded in feminine reproductive processes, processes that have been universally designated as both mystical and carnal. In her mystical aspect, woman is represented as an active medium or vehicle of creative energy who transforms that energy into life-forms; in her carnal aspect she is represented as being capable of transforming life-forms into malevolent energy directed toward the destruction, rather than creation, of the universe. This latter image is focused particularly in beliefs surrounding the witch, about whom—whether in medieval Britain and Europe, contemporary Africa, or Freudian psychology—it is thought that the witch threatens, exhausts, or steals the genitals or semen, or partakes of living flesh and blood, in order to increase her malevolent power. The image of witch depicted in many male-dominated societies is a blatant condemnation of female sexuality. Such condemnation is related to the threat to male-dominated society posed by the independence and authority of women.


Female Character Menstrual Blood Palm Wine Market Woman Senior Wife 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Hoch-Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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