So, what’s up with Vashti?

Many years ago, one of my daughters came home from her Jewish Day School and proclaimed that “Vashti didn’t go to the king when beckoned because she had pimples and a tail.” Now I’ve been Jewish a long time and though I had never actually read the entire Megillah of Esther I was, to say the least, skeptical. I pulled out a Tanach (Bible), turned to the story of Esther and began to read. Well, let me tell you, this is not the fairytale-esque story that I remembered from my childhood. The story begins with drunkenness, lewdness and chauvinism and ends with revenge and a bloodthirsty rampage.
So, back to Vashti. Poor Vashti, demonized and cast off. For what? Not wanting to attend a banquet that had been going on for 7 days, where wine had been served “in abundance” and the palace stewards “complied with each man’s wishes”? The King also requested that she be wearing her crown (and perhaps, nothing else). Yikes. I’d also have refused to go and I hope that my daughters would do the same. As a matter of fact, Vashti is exactly the kind of woman I’d hoped they’d be; strong, assertive and independent.
Vashti, you’re my hero.