By Randeep Singh Chauhan
Master’s Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2005
Abstract: Despite shifts towards “secularism” in the Western world, women have consistently been the target of negative sentiment due to their historically and theologically-rooted subordination to men. This thesis articulates feminist historical research methodologies which are applied to the Malleus Malejicarum (“The Hammer of the Witches”), a legal code of the Roman Catholic Inquisition. An examination of the dialectical relationship between ideology and culture in Medieval Europe progresses into a discussion of the evolution of medical, sociological, and criminological thought to contextualize struggles in the contemporary regulation of midwifery in Canada. When viewed through a historical feminist lens, the barriers to midwifery practice become a microcosm of the gender struggle in Western society, in which men have defined and classified women as “abnormal” and deviant, and systematically excluded their voices from religious, academic, and medical enterprise. Essentially, this thesis systematically places a contemporary social issue into historical and social context.