Throughout centuries women have been portrayed in various ways in the public and private domains. A witch is one such portrayal or archetype. This particular archetype received some publicity in recent years in Australia with messages such as "ditch the witch" in reference to our first female prime minister.
It's no wonder then that images of women as witches appear in street art in our back alleyways. The appearance of the witch can take many different forms. The witch can be old and haggard or, as in this case, young and innocent looking. The sense behind the youth and innocence of course is that there is more to this witch. A nastiness. Sinister ways of tricking people, maybe men in particular, into believing in them, trusting them, before playing the worst possible tricks on them.
Such portrayals of women may of course add a sense of enigma to women, highlighting their depth and complexity. Unfortunately, they can also serve to break down relationships, reducing women's behavior to simple messages of nastiness. This can lead to the widening of existing gender gaps in understanding and support.
Of course men can be portrayed as wizards and we could argue that they equally could be seen as nasty and all controlling. The Harry Potter stories have certainly helped to highlight the role that wizards can play in a society. There doesn't seem to be the same gender difference though with wizards. Wizards can be nasty to everyone, not just to the opposite sex. Being a wizard isn't automatically seen as a negative thing. In fact "being a wizard" at something can mean that you have a particular skill.
Maybe the witch most often appeared as the wicked one in our childhood stories, and for that reason we continue to hold on to a secret fear that the witch will have some power over us, even as adults. The idea of the "good witch" doesn't resonate quite so much. How would you know that she's good after all? And not just tricking you?
It's fascinating to watch how street art, knowingly or not to the street artists, highlights some of the issues in our society, brings out the archetypes that are culturally meaningful and give us the opportunity to reflect on what this all means.