Sheroes: Bold, Brash, (and Absolutely Unabashed) Superwomen from Susan B. Anthony to Xena

by Varla Ventura

Published by Conari Press

304 pages, 1998



Remembering the Women History Forgot

Reviewed by Marianne Rogers

What would happen if we rewrote the history books for a more gender balanced view? Who are the famous heroes history has forgotten? The Women of the World.

Author Varla Ventura believes that history is filled with famous women heroes -- sheroes -- who have been virtually forgotten because of male centered historians. She believes women have been shortchanged while growing up; deprived of female role models who dared to pursue their dreams. Sheroes is her attempt at a ready reference of females who should be well known (s)heroes.

Shereos: Bold, Brash (and Absolutely Unabashed) Superwomen is a quick, informative and entertaining rewrite of history to try and correct the gender bias which has prevailed. The compactly written book is occasionally riveting, providing the reader with a delightful insight into women who deserve our admiration. In a few instances it falls into a propagandized, emotional editorial-bio which falls short of convincing or providing the reasons for aggrandizing the women to Sheroes status.

Ventura has compiled short editorialized biographies on a multitude of women who have made a positive contribution in categories ranging from warrior sheroes, eco-sheroes, scholarly and scientific sheroes as well as celluloid sheroes. The range is excellent, providing a banquet of thoughtful reasons why remarkable women need to be remembered by history.

She has included many indisputable sheroes such as Indira Gandhi, Marie Currie, Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Women who showed courage and skill to obtain their goals, improving their own lives and the lives of others in the process.

Less well known sheroes, Ventura convincingly writes -- people like Agent 99, Ally McBeal, Lizzie Borden, Patsy Cline, Nancy Drew, Ella Fitzgerald, Anne Frank, Helen Reddy, and Jane Goodale, Lisa Simpson and Ripley -- deserve recognition because they have advanced the position of gender equality and defied gender stereotyping. Many little known names spring up within the pages, most with compelling reasons to be remembered, some compelling the reader to access what it takes to be a true hero or shero.

Ventura acknowledges that many sheroes have been missed from this volume, and asks her readers to submit names for a future edition. Such important females as Golda Mier, Amelia Erhardt, Catherine the Great, Mary Cassat, and Tamara de Lempicka are absent from this first edition of Sheroes. Also missing are the contributions of such notable women as Leni Riefenstahl, Betty Ford, Emily Bronte and Mary Shelley.

All in all, Shereos: Bold, Brash (and Absolutely Unabashed) Superwomen, is a good read. It is what it claims to be: a feminist view of history and the forgotten women who make good role models. | September 1998


Marianne Rogers enjoys the out-of-doors, walking and reading, reading, reading. When she is not spending time Volkswagen-vanning around western Canada and the Yukon, she can be found enjoying life with her husband and friend, Bob. With whatever time is left, she earns her paycheck teaching and mentoring junior high students, and loving almost every minute of it.