Women exist. They existed in the past, and they still exist today. Women exist here in the United States. Incredible, right? Women have existed in the United States since its very advent and have been an integral part of shaping what this nation is and stands for today. History books and national historic sites across the country might be able to prove this to you, but what about our currency?
If you were to look at a one-, five-, 20-, 50- or 100-dollar bill, you wouldn’t be able to determine which women have contributed to our nation’s history, or if they even have at all. Banknotes are used every single day, but I would argue that most of the general population — except for maybe those wild Illuminati conspiracists — doesn’t take the time to stare longingly at every intricate detail on the bill.
Like most other countries, the United States depicts a brief history of the nation by delicately commemorating notable events, locations and distinguished leaders on its paper money. However, upon observation, the U.S. government only appears to be interested in commemorating the influence of old white men on its paper money, not to mention that one old, white president who infamously contributed to an abysmal genocide (in case you’re unsure, this is referring to Andrew Jackson’s campaigns against Native American tribes). According to TIME magazine, at least 10 other countries already recognize female leaders on their currency, and some have been doing so for a long time. Why haven’t we done this as well?
The issue here, however, is not necessarily that our nation hasn’t ever included women on currency at all. Susan B. Anthony and Sacajawea were featured on dollar coins at one point in recent memory, but production of those coins were halted due to “poor reception.” The issue, then, is that we haven’t featured them enough in the past, and that we’re not featuring them right now.
As trivial or minimal as this issue may seem, this severe lack of female representation on paper money says a lot about our country. The United States has not been as progressive about equality between men and women as it may hold itself to be, even when it comes to the inclusion of important female leaders on a simple piece of paper. Erasure of women from American history is certainly not a new occurrence, but in a time where social activism is more impassioned and pervasive, it’s slightly concerning that female representation on currency has yet to be achieved — although some significant efforts are being made. I don’t know much about what it takes to make a dollar bill, but I would think that it isn’t all that difficult to replace a man’s face with that of an equally prominent woman’s.
There doesn’t seem to be any valid excuse for this lack of representation anymore, and even elementary school kids can recognize the injustice of it all. U.S. President Barack Obama recently responded to a 9-year-old girl’s inquiry about why women still aren’t represented on U.S. currency, and said himself that recognizing them was a “pretty good idea.” And that it certainly is.
Sure, countless female leaders have been recognized for their tireless efforts for equality and other social issues over the years with statues, fancy medals and Hollywood biopics, but it is time we give them a more ubiquitous honor.