OPINION — The Senate will soon come to a vote on a resolution that would place the image of a woman on a piece of U.S. currency.
The measure, drafted by Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, should pass with little difficulty. In fact, not long ago, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that his department was preparing to redesign the $10 bill that will go into circulation in 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Lew said a woman’s image would replace that of Alexander Hamilton.
Lew said the honor would go to a woman “who was a champion for our inclusive democracy.”
It is certainly fitting that a woman be so honored. The problem, however, will come when they try to decide whose image to place on the bill.
If the Treasury Department is inclined to celebrate the 19th Amendment, the logical choice would be Susan B. Anthony, an early feminist critical to the women’s suffrage movement.
Anthony’s image once graced a U.S. dollar coin, which was ill-received by the vending lobbyists because it was too close in size and appearance to a quarter. The “Suzy B’s,” as they were called, were retired in 2000.
While the Anthony coins were being minted, the Treasury Department also issued gold-colored dollar coins with the image of Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped guide the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
I would be surprised if either of those women were brought out of retirement to grace the new 10-spot.
The last woman who was featured on U.S. paper money was Martha Washington, who was on the $1 silver certificate from 1891 to 1896. Pocahontas preceded her when she adorned a $20 note from 1865 to 1869, so they should probably be excluded, as well.
Besides, there are any number of women who would qualify, including my wife, who deserves some sort of recognition for putting up with me and certainly knows how to stretch a $10 bill, handling more of them than I do. She is also, by example, thought, and deed, “a champion for our inclusive democracy.”
While I doubt my wife would get any endorsements from Congress, the history books are filled with hundreds of deserving, underappreciated women.
There’s Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady and human rights activist. She was a woman of certain political clout, even to the point of opposing the viewpoints of her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She also served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 until 1952. She was a warrior in the struggle for women’s rights.
There is Rosa Parks, the brave civil rights activist; Maya Angelou, another proponent of human rights and one of the most evocative poets of our time. Let’s also not forget the courageous and amazing Helen Keller, who overcame incredible odds and was a beacon for humanity, and Clara Barton, the Civil War nurse known for her humanitarianism as well as for founding the American Red Cross.
And, of course, from politics we have Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first woman to seek a presidential nomination from a major political party.
There are many, many more women who would be deserving of this honor, so many that it would be easier, and certainly less controversial, to decide whose image not to place on the $10 bill.
First of all, we would have to eliminate all current female politicians.
That would exclude Nancy Pelosi, the first and only female Speaker of The House, because of the toxic controversy it would evoke; Sarah Palin, whose very image would be a disgrace to Monopoly money; and Hillary Clinton, consistently rated by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in the world.
There is nobody on today’s celebrity radar who would qualify, so you immediately can dump Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton and Beyonce. Janet Jackson gets nixed, too. Wouldn’t want a wardrobe malfunction on our currency, would we?
There’s Oprah Winfrey, but she would probably ask for a royalty for every $10 bill printed. Besides, the honor would be for contributions to humanity, not for amassing great personal wealth and notoriety. I would also disqualify anybody whose last name is Kardashian, just because.
Look, it’s probably a good idea to kick Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill. He was a banker, you know, and bankers already have enough clout in our world.
Besides, Hamilton was a lousy shot, which would put him on the outs with the National Rifle Association lobbyists, and he was born in the British West Indies, which, I’m sure, doesn’t sit well with the “birther” crowd.
Look, women are on currency the world over. Why is the United States so primitive, so puritanical, so backward? As a longtime advocate for women’s rights — anybody who had a mother should be one as well — I think it’s long overdue.
That whole notion of “barefoot and pregnant”? Nah. Doesn’t sit well with me.
In fact, it’s probably time to turn it all over to the women. We men have done a lousy job.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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