What is about about women in their forties and beyond that seems to enrage - almost everyone? In the last few years, as identity politics has taken hold, middle-aged women have found themselves talked and written about as morally inferior beings, the face of bigotry, entitlement and selfishness, to be ignored, pitied or abused. 'Hags' asks the question why these women are treated with such active disdain. Each chapter takes a different theme - care work, beauty, violence, political organization, sex - and explores it in relation to middle-aged women's beliefs, bodies and choices. Victoria Smith traces the attitudes she describes back to the same anxieties about older women that drove early modern witch hunts, and explores the very specific reasons why this type of misogyny is so powerful today.