7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Just as he did in 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness Eric Metaxas shares the brief biographies of seven inspirational women. Some are familiar, like Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks. Some I had never heard of, such as Saint Maria of Paris and Susanna Wesley.
Metaxas begins the book by considering the way our culture often highly celebrates women who compete with men, as if there is no other way to measure a woman's value. We think of this as putting men and women on equal terms, but it actually pits them against each other in a zero-sum competition. Someone must win and someone must lose. That's hardly "equality." It is ironic that such a standard is so built into our culture that this concept was slightly startling to me. And I'm nobody's knee-jerk "feminist."
I found it amusing, therefore, when Metaxas' first great woman was Joan of Arc. Is there a better female icon for achieving greatness by doing what the boys do, but better? It turns out that one of the contradictions is the little known fact that Joan was not as we portray her these days, like Katniss from The Hunger Games. She was inexperienced, petite, vulnerable, and innocent. It was precisely her feminine, youthful qualities which affected the average fighting man to respect her victories as miracles.
Story after story shows these women just as they were, rising to the difficulties of their circumstances in ways that exemplify true womanhood. Each surrendered themselves to God and sacrificed themselves in some way for the greater good. In so doing, each helped change the world for the better.
Somehow the phrase "true womanhood" equates these days with "namby pamby" or "doormat." Nothing could be further from the truth. As you read these stories you will come away respecting how strong feminine qualities can be under adverse conditions. Examining the lives of these great women helps reset our view by stepping outside of our current assumptions and that can only help inspire all of us. It certainly inspired me.