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8/1/08

Women and money and women on money.

I forgot that yesterday was the 31st, which meant my 30-day Metro card ran out and I was on my way to work. Both machines were cash only, and seeing as how I don't carry around $81 in bills to cover the fare, I had to get a one-way. I used a $5 and got 3 dollar coins back. Not at all interesting, until I realized that I had one of each: the old Susan B. Anthony, a Sacajawea and a shiny gold George Washington.



I thought that was pretty weird.

But it made me sad to think about when the Sacajawea coins came out that everyone thought they were a total joke. It was similar with the Susan B. Anthony, but I wasn't born yet to know about it. People say it was because it was too much like a quarter, but I don't hear anyone complaining about the new, exactly-the-same-size-&-shape Washington ones. Could it be that you can't put a woman's face on money in the US? I mean, we don't acknowledge any "founding mothers", so how are we to say what females can be honored this way? Surely Anthony or a woman of similar ilk would be close enough, since she was a driving force in the suffragette movement, thus founding the place for [White] women in the political realm (trivial as it may still be in many respects). I would like to see a coin with Helen Keller on it, but even though her story of blind/deaf/mute turned communicating proper little lady is inspiring and taught to all elementary school children, they like to leave out the part where she grew up and became a communist and feminist and wrote many books & essays criticizing the patriarchal government and suggesting it's overthrow. It was amazing enough that a black communist man ended up on a stamp
(and I mean that in a good way)....but really, add "female" to nearly anything and most people find it twice as shocking.

The
Sacajawea coin was rather shocking. It seemed sort of incredible to have a Native American on any kind of currency. But yet I was conflicted. Hers is another story ripe with omission, fuzzy facts and some flat-out-lies. It's hard to say what most people's perception of her was/is. Most children in public school would have learned about her as a pleasant footnote- not quite a hero, but someone whom it was appropriate to appreciate. Like many historical figures, she is one-dimensional. There are only heroes and villains because grey area confuses and angers people. Many thought of her for being a traitor to her people, for marrying a French men and assisting Louis & Clark. More think she was actually trying to save her people...that the team was less-than- friendly when they came to the "new world" (go figure) and that she could at least distant them from the tribe. But I think it comes down to White people not liking having Brown people on their money and men not appreciating women being...honored.

So when can women ever be used as symbols of the nation? We're going to have to wait forEVer to have a female president. But after we do, how many decades after are we allowed to honor that turning point? Maybe the only way I'll see money with a woman's face on it in my life time is by moving to Toronto...
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ

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