Since all we have here to communicate with is language, I want to
add this about “old wives’ tales”.
The “old wives’” were the wise women who knew about herbal medicine:
the doctors of the day (also all kinds of other professionals).
Around the time of the witch hunts, their knowledge was stolen, they
were put to death as witches and women were forbidden to practice
medicine (and other professions, including jewelers).
Another way besides killing and legislation to marginalize a
population is to put everything they say into a category of mistrust
or ridicule. “Oh, it’s just an old wives’ tale” Think about
it…it says that older women tell lies or untruths or just
silly things. It undermines their words. This perversion of language
to shift power balances and influence thinking is ancient and
continues today. One only has to think of the so called clean air
and water bill being introduced that will increase pollution.
By the way, one of the first mass produced books off of the
Guttenberg press (the first book making machine) was the Malleus
Maleficarum, or “hammer against witches”. The authors were Dominican
friars Jakob Sprenger (1436-1495) and Heinrich Kramer (1430-1505).
The book served as a guide to the Holy Inquisition for more than a
century, with its explicit instructions on how suspected witches
were to be discovered, tortured, forced into confession, tried, and
executed. It directed, by procedures outlined, that the accused
would eventually be found guilty, regardless of evidence. Whole
villages would be found to contain “witches”. Of course the book
also outlined the costs to be levied against said witch, who was
charged for each torture and for her own execution. Any extra
property or wealth was taken as well. It was the greatest "exchange"
of wealth of the time. Women were stripped of their lands, the great
abbesses were no more (Think of the genius of Hildegard Von Bingen
who lived a couple of centuries earlier), their wealth, their
knowledge and their power: all was taken in this brutal, hundred
year war against women.
It may seem like an innocuous little saying, but it’s not, any more
than are racial slurs or defining the people of entire countries as
"terrorists". Used often enough, it defines how we think about
certain groups. Let’s not continue the inquisition in any way.