In 1429 Joan of Arc Led an Army of 4,000 Men and in 2017 We Have Feminists
“We do not call her up as a victim. We call her up as one who held back nothing- we don’t examine too closely the justice of her cause. She came from nowhere and gave everything.” — Mary Gordon, author of A. of J.
In 1429 Joan of Arc fulfilled her true purpose. She believed a divine power she referred to as her God chose her to lead France to victory against England after their king had been disinherited from his thrown. She was thirteen years old when she began hearing his voice. At seventeen years old she left the village where she was born and raised and set out to crown the prince of France their king.
Though the 100 year war with England would carry on for another thirty years Joan was successful in leading an army of 4,000 men in pushing England back and regaining territory.
She and her army protected the king as they traveled to Reims. They took out any town on their journey who resisted and in July 1429 Charles VII was crowned King of France. Her men honored her, believed in her strength, abilities and cause. They felt intimated by her. Was it because she was a woman or because they valued her as a leader? We may never know.
Even after she succeeded with her mission she continued to fight for her king. In 1430 she was captured by the English while defending Compiégne. During her time as prisoner she heard word that the English army was sweeping through towns and slaughtering children up to seven years of age. She heard her God’s voice and believed she was to protect the people.
In order to do so she jumped seventy feet from the tower in which she was being held. Surviving the fall she was to be chained until the day of her hearing. She was found guilty of witchery and heresy and at nineteen years old was burned at the stake. It was an era where most were hung but the English feared Joan would survive a hanging and if so they would suffer her wrath.
In 1920 — 500 years later Joan was declared a saint and is still worshiped to this day. Without her there may not be a France. I recently read Mary Gordon’s book, A. of J. and I am enchanted by Joan of Arc’s story.
Where did we go a stray? When I have this conversation with people about the undeniable miracle Joan of Arc was I’m often told the same response, It was a different time back then.
True, it was a different time. It was a time when men fought to survive, a time where they had no expectations and earned what they had. It was a time when they defended the greater good, something far more meaningful than themselves. A time when they believed in a cause, such as Joan who even as a leader stood side by side with them.
Some would argue the cause was shift is government and that also may be true but I believe it’s a limited truth. Though it was only a short time Joan led an army before she was burned, she did something we often don’t do today. She gave her everything. She had no expectation that just because she was- it should be granted to her.
Modern Day Feminism
“Fem-i-nism /feməˌnizəm/ noun- the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”- Merriam- Webster
While many countries claim oppression America claims feminism.
I recently wrote an article in reference to Banned Book Week and our freedom. One interesting fact that occurred to me during my research is America bases it’s freedom on a flag that was created by a woman, Betsy Ross who in 1776 didn’t have the freedom to vote or the freedom to own land. This was due to government’s constraints in a time when America was declared separate from British territory. Those days are far past.
During my lifetime women have fought for equal rights as well as those who came before me, yet as a whole women continue to portray themselves as victims. Women claim they are paid less than men, hired less often for leadership positions and are expected to be the lead caregiver for families while men watch football and scratch their balls.
Is it possible our belief perpetuates this as a truth? Or maybe it isn’t the truth. Maybe it’s what we choose to believe and therefore it is. The same as Joan of Arc believed she was chosen to lead an army that would crown the rightful King. Therefore it was, in a time far more challenging for women than present day.
Joan of Arc defied every challenge she faced. She was born a peasant in a town stricken by poverty. When she set out to lead France to its victory she was illiterate. Still, she never waited for an opportunity to arise. She took it. She seized it and because of that she was successful . She did what she believed was her sole purpose of existence and nothing more.
Joan of Arc not only led an army of 4,000 men but she set an example of what’s possible even in the most improbable of times. If she could do it then there’s nothing stopping us in modern day other than ourselves.
We don’t face the same challenges or constraints. We will not serve the same consequences. It’s time we women stop playing the role of victim. It’s time we stand on our feet and grasp the rights so many before us fought for.
We are equal. Feminism is an excuse to place blame as if we’re not. It’s time we take what’s ours.