When I told my husband that I’d ordered a copy of Leslie Ludy’s Set Apart Femininity, he looked at me like I was speaking French. Or like I said I’d taken to eating peanut butter. That would be even stranger.
Although he was the one to introduce me to the Ludys back in our dating days, it’d been a long time since we’d read any of their material. Excluding, perhaps, that one night we spent annotating a particularly alarming article from Leslie Ludy’s website that ended with us pretty much nodding and saying yep, we’re feminists through and through. So flash forward to the moment when I say I’m ordering this book, and you can see why it would seem out of character.
But this is more than just getting another book to read. Rather, I’ve decided to embark on a project here on this blog, a project involving this book and discussing the subject I’m most passionate about: how the world views women.
The plan is to go through this book section by section and review, discuss, and analyze the ideas and themes presented.
Why review this book?
Doing an in-depth book review is an idea that’s been brewing in my mind for months. I’ve heard of other bloggers doing similar projects, and as it turns out, literature analysis is a really nifty springboard to launch into some meaty topics that I’ve been wanting to discuss here. I knew Captivating had already been done, and though my first thought was to do Lady in Waiting (hands down the worst book I’ve ever read), my copy had been ceremonially burned at my bachelorette party and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend any amount of money on another one.
Though Lady in Waiting has long been ashes, I wanted to discuss a “Christian women’s book” for a few reasons:
- I’ve been saying for a while how I hate “Christian women” things, and this will provide a way to discuss why, and give some actual reasons for those feelings.
- Some of the things that are taken for granted in Christian women’s culture are completely bizarre to the rest of the world, and I’m curious to explore that (my mom’s jaw about hit the floor when we explained how Lady in Waiting assumed unmarried women feel like ‘crusty oysters washed up on the shores of singleness.’ Again: normal in Christian women’s culture, bizarre to the rest of humanity).
- I’d like to unpack some of both my and evangelicalism’s views on women, their roles, and this myth of what an ‘ideal woman’ looks like.
And so we come to Set Apart Femininity, a book that promises to reveal “God’s sacred intent for every young woman” as well as give “the blueprint for world-altering femininity.” If you want to know what makes a Good Christian Woman, this is apparently the guide, as evidenced by dozens of reviewers saying that this book is truth or that it changed their lives or that everyone should read it. It made the rounds in my college church group, and I personally haven’t heard anyone apart from me have any criticism (constructive or otherwise) for anything Eric or Leslie Ludy have written. They’re big writers in the evangelical world who are kind of taken as gospel, even though not all of their opinions are the absolute truth they sometimes claim them to be.
A few points before we start:
I’m not here to say that everything about this book is bad or flimsy or false. There are some good passages, and I know this book has helped some women’s faith journeys. We’ll talk about the good things. This review is also not a personal criticism of anyone who loves Set Apart Femininity or other Leslie Ludy writings; if this book rocks your world, that’s cool. Rather, I hope that we can dive into some thoughtful, thought-provoking, and intellectual dialogue about evangelicalism’s messages to women and how that’s affecting both the church and women in and out of it.
If that sort of discussion sounds appealing to you, then join me on Tuesdays to discuss Set Apart Femininity. And if you have a copy and would like to follow along as a sort of virtual book club that would be even better.
And when we’re done if you want to join me for a week in the wilderness to forget about how many times this book uses the word “princess,” that would be wonderful, too.