You know the story of Esther, the Jewish young woman whose courage saved her people. But you wouldn't know of Esther if it were not for Queen Vashti.
King Xerxes was throwing a party and drinking too much, and he decided to trot out Vashti as entertainment. The king ordered her to put on her crown and display her beauty to the guests. She refused. We don't exactly know why. But I suspect that a woman with enough courage to disobey the king is the kind of person who refused to be treated like an object.
Xerxes' advisors warned that if Vashti was not punished, all the Persian women would follow her example and refuse to obey their husbands. Getting rid of Vashti was an attempt to keep women in chains, enslaved to men.
To replace Vashti, Xerxes chose Esther based on her beauty. But it was Esther's courage that saved the Jews from the evil intentions of Haman, Xerxes' second in command. However, if Vashti had not defied Xerxes, Esther would not have become queen, and countless Jews would have died.
It's as if God said, "You keep women in shackles and value them only for their physical beauty. But I raise up leaders whose true beauty is their valor."
God calls us to speak up, to fight forces that treat women as objects. It may be risky -- just ask Vashti and Esther. But God grants courage. Let's start breaking some chains.