About The Secret History of Weeds
Girls begin to talk and to stand on their feet sooner than boys because weeds always grow up more quickly than good crops."Table of Contents | Back Cover Notes
—Martin Luther 1533
Martin Luther is partly responsible for my writing this book. The above quotation has haunted me for decades because I could not fathom the reasoning behind it. Who wants to be called a weed?
Once the emotional reaction to his words faded, intellectual curiosity grabbed me. I began to notice what had escaped my attention before discovering Martin Luther's opinion of the female sex. First, contrary to the popular belief that weeds are noxious plants, weeds are plants providing life-support to the planet by producing oxygen and food. All of our favored veggies and herbs today were originally weeds (think garlic, onions and thyme).
Second, I tried to find the original source of his opinion. What I discovered is that Martin Luther's reflection was, and continues to be, the echo of ancient philosophical and theological conjecture about female inferiority in mind, body and even soul. Luther was primed to believe this fallacy by centuries of both great and small minds that came before him.
In researching the history put forth by those great and small minds, I discovered that for all practical purposes the female in history is almost non-existent until the 20th century. We have been ignored by the custodians of our past, even though history does acknowledge most queens and a few conspicuously prominent females.
Only recently have professional historians, theologians, archaeologists and anthropologists (not all of whom are female) begun to dig up female remains either out of the ground or out of the written chronicles of history. The technical term used for these diligent people is "revisionist." Revisionists of both sexes overturn the "received wisdom" (or what males decided in the past) by fresh research and reviewing the old conclusions. There have been major surprises, as is reported in this book.
The other side of this research coin is based on personal experience as an elected official in Arkansas. Political gender barriers were shattered in 1976 when I was elected as the first woman county constitutional executive in Little Rock. In 1980 I became the first woman in state history to win statewide office on her own merits and without gubernatorial appointment. In the process I learned that shattering gender barriers is not a "ticket to ride." For women gaining a position of power, the battle is just beginning. Women in power positions become immediately labeled as spunky, feisty, or bitch, the descriptive adjective depending on the degree of her willingness to yield.
The biggest barrier to women in politics continues to be the conventional wisdom's ruling that men lead and women follow. The sad thing about the conventional wisdom is that males are the convention and their wisdom rules. Even Hillary Clinton had to deal with that old saw during her impressive race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. There was an undertow, as we say in Florida, dragging her down under the waves of popular opinion because she was not a male.
Not much has changed in the years between Luther's observation and the present day. The female half of humanity continues to be defined and diminished by limitations in politics, religion and business because an undercurrent of belief in female inferiority persists, sometimes blatantly, oftentimes unthinkingly. The glass ceilings in both politics and business have been cracked but the stained glass ceiling continues to keep skirts out of the pulpit.
Women's capacity to contribute fully to society is damaged by the lack of value granted to us as citizens. (This is a book about sexism but racism is equally wrong for the same reason.) If the female had been equal to the male in history, perhaps there would have been a tempering of the power to wage war, a curbing of female infanticide, and no witch hunts against women healers.
When the most common summary about women's presence in history becomes no noticeable role that history records, there is reason to believe that history as it has been reported is adulterated. This book is set on purifying the record. Prepare to be both entertained and outraged. Regale others with the facts. Read passages aloud to daughters, mothers, sons, husbands, fathers, and to the person next to you on a bus or plane, or waiting in line at the bank.
Help balance the assumptions of the collective unconscious so future generations of women may express their unique capabilities and fulfill their cherished dreams.
Readers of this book will never look at history again without thinking about the surprising information in this "secret history of weeds."