December 18, 2021

What Came First, the Witch or the Feminist?

Melisa Kelly

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Streaming PlatformsLove Letters to the Master, 2020

‘Love Letters to the Master’, is a musical retelling of stories from the Scottish Witch trials as a thematic lens to discuss modern Scottish society’s attitude towards women and how we are perceived. With the criminalisation of women in Scotland during the 1700’s, many women who were offering alternative medicine, or who were not of an age to bear children or work, were ‘othered’ by society and subsequently jailed, tortured, or executed for being ‘wanton and wicked’. Whether that behaviour was adultery or refusing to fit the social norms or the binary of the time, women were seen as a problem to be dealt with. With today’s discussions around rape culture, abortion, equality, and the gender pay gap and inequality in male dominated industries, this album explores stories of the women that came before us. What happened to them? What do we share with them in fears, and expressions of protest and defiance? How do the preconceived ideas we have today about ‘othered’ women reflect in not just our treatment of them, but how many of those ideas are part of an inherited collective cultural experience of early feminism. What came first, the witch or the feminist?