Gender and Witchcraft and Discworld

After I thoughtlessly stated that J. K. Rowling invented the wizard/witch dichotomy (because, in my opinion, "she’s a fervent adherent of the gender binary"), I got an email from a reader letting me know that that was already a thing as early as 1987, because Terry Pratchett had written about it in Discworld.

Somehow, despite devouring SFF books when I was a kid and a teen, I never actually read any Discworld. (No, my mother somehow got the idea that fucking Xanth was the right series to get her eleven-year-old kid started on...) I don’t know how it passed under my radar for so long. I certainly knew about it; I knew it was a flat world carried by four elephants on a turtle, and I knew about the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness, and I even knew several character names from being around friends who were discussing the books. Just. Never read them.

So I picked up Equal Rites from the library and devoured it in about two nights. And it’s really good, and I’m definitely going to be reading more. Granny Weatherwax’s explanation of Headology is... basically how magic works for me IRL. It’s literally that.

But, while the book does present the unjust dichotomy of Men Are Wizards, Women Are Witches, it also presents wizardry and witchcraft as different things. Rowling presents wizardry and witchcraft as two unnecessarily different names for the same thing, depending on the gender of the practitioner, and I think that’s what a lot of people in the modern day and age are thinking of when they see a male witch and call him a wizard.

(But thank you for the rec, idiomdrottning! It was a great read.)