Friday, July 03, 2015

1507 The Ten Dollar Woman

Picturing only dead people on money used to be tradition.  But somewhere along the line it became law.  This means there are all kinds of important people who can’t be considered when we finally feminize the ten spot.

Among them:

--Kim Kardashian.  What’s more American than drooling over some mindless, talent-challenged tricked out celebrity?

--Condoleezza Rice.  Smart enough to get out of politics while the getting was good.

--Billie Jean King: Great athlete, good human being, activist for women’s rights and gay.  Two birds with one stone.  Same as

--Rachel Dolezal:  Not only a woman, but a white masquerading as black.  One and a half birds with one stone.

--Oprah.  She made reading cool for many who never would otherwise have picked up a book.

Of course, the faces on currency are supposed to reflect who we are.  Of those above, only Kardashian meets that threshold.

So let’s consider some important dead women:

--Sacajawea.  She flopped as a coin.  Too heavy. But America is, after all, the land of second chances.

--Susan B. Anthony.  Ditto.

--Aimee Semple McPherson.  Now there’s someone who represents us. Powerful, devout. Overweight.  Oh, wait. She fooled around with guys not her husband.  Oh wait again… so what.  And her Canadian birth doesn’t disqualify her.

--Jackie Kennedy.

--Marilyn Monroe.

--Rosa Parks. Her aching feet changed America for the better.

--Rosie the Riveter. The pinup girl who won the last important war.

--Marie Curie.

--Eleanor Roosevelt.

Whoever gets the honor has to share it with Alexander Hamilton.  Alex gets to stay with the ten, but in a diminished role.  Kind of like getting demoted from the Nightly News to the cable network.

But Hamilton’s continued presence on the ten could cause tongues to wag.  It has to be made clear that he and the woman in the picture are nothing more than “just good friends.”

Then there’s this:  There are seven denominations of notes.  (The government no longer prints any bills above $100, though there are plenty in the hands of collectors and some remain in circulation.)

So eight portraits on current money (including Hamilton’s upcoming diminished capacity) and only one is a woman.  That means women are featured on only 12.5% of the currency.

If you don’t count Hamilton (no one thinks he’s going to last, anyway but he has to be allowed to work out his contract) it rises to 14.29%.  Still not terribly representative.

Someone else, someone with some clout is sure to notice and publicize that inequality!

So all of this is a fine academic discussion.  What’s different about the $10 bill is -- no matter whose picture is on it -- it ain’t worth what it should be.


-This is not meant to be a list of all the important women in American history so if your candidate isn’t on it, calm down.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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