‘We burned women not witches’ by Olive Jenkins, City of London Freemens

Moving into the future, it is crucial to keep women’s rights at the forefront of our minds, and this idea speaks to Emma Cox and Emma Jenkins, the business partners who started the ‘women not witches’ organisation in a way that has inspired them to act.

I have had the fortune of speaking with them about the story behind their concept and the reason behind their poignant message, inspiring me to think more about the significance of gender still in modern society as well as the importance of change.

Their idea was first conceptualised in a playground as the ‘Emma’s’ waited for their young daughters to come out of school. They were reflecting upon how there seems to be “an annual resurfacing of myths and traditions that demonise women” in celebrating things like halloween each year, a very interesting idea and perspective. So often at Halloween are little girls especially seen dressed for example as witches, clad with pointed hats, striped tights, and a black cat. But what is perceived as a cute, meaningless thing has a deeper message when viewed more closely.

The history of witches is glazed over to the point that they are accepted gladly as something suitable for children. In truth, however, 2,500 people (primarily women) were burned, for example, due to the ‘satanic panic’ started by King James I. Women were hunted, tortured, and killed for being different and if not because of that, because of their sex. However, Cox and Jenkins created ‘Women not Witches’ to challenge the idealised, rose-tinted view of the past and their clothing and message is a reminder and an alarm bell as to the incorrectness of this perspective and to try and achieve gender equality moving into the future because as they put it “it’s time.”

This organisation produces jumpers, t-shirts, and bags with the slogan ‘they burned women not witches’ to promote an awareness not only of the plight of the women of the past branded as ‘witches’ but also to move towards a change in achieving gender equality. In the words of the organisation itself: “women not witches is about the mission not the money” and the profits of the sales are all going towards “relevant women’s charities” in order to help “make change happen.”

But this organisation is not just about equality. When looking more into the products themselves, the ‘Emma’s’ use: natural materials in their products which are better for the environment; renewable energy to power production from the ‘sun and wind’, and finally, they use plastic-free packaging to ship orders using packaging made “of plants not plastic.”

When asked why they chose this sustainable way of creating and distributing their products they said “We both recognise the threat to the world and environment as to past practices and that fast fashion as it were is very bad for the world with detrimental effects on everyone and everything.” Therefore, in choosing this environmentally friendly way of producing these items, the message of preserving the environment is combined with ideas of equality to help sustain the world for a more equal and unified future.

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