Women on 20s

GA Voice - - Arts Reviews - By MELISSA CARTER

When you spend $20, you likely give a ca­sual glance to An­drew Jack­son as you hand the money away. Did you know the way that bill looks could soon change, his im­age re­placed with an­other? The or­ga­niz­ers be­hind Women on 20s are try­ing to make that hap­pen, but the out­come will de­pend on how sex­ist we as a so­ci­ety still are.

Su­san Saran­don let me know about Women on 20s. She took a pic­ture of her­self with a $20 bill on her Twit­ter feed, stat­ing she wanted to see a woman on the bill, and telling fol­low­ers to post their own pho­tos and vote. I fol­lowed her link to the web­site where they had listed many prom­i­nent women, like Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, Amelia Earhart, and El­iz­a­beth Cady Stan­ton. I voted for my choice of fi­nal­ists, and to­day the Fi­nal Four in­clude Eleanor Roo­sevelt, Rosa Parks, Har­riet Tub­man, and for­mer Chero­kee Na­tion Prin­ci­pal Chief Wilma Mankiller. Once a win­ner is cho­sen, Women on 20s will pe­ti­tion Pres­i­dent Obama to di­rect the Trea­sury Sec­re­tary to make the change.

The other day I ex­plained this process to a cou­ple of male co­work­ers who had not heard of it. One guy’s re­sponse was, “Wouldn’t the value go down to $18.20 if that hap­pens?” When I gave him a blank stare, he con­tin­ued, “Come on,” as if it was my fault for not cred­it­ing him for a bril­liant joke.

For­mer First Lady and Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton has of­fi­cially thrown her name into the ring of can­di­dacy for the 2016 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Re­gard­less of your pol­i­tics, it can’t be dis­puted that Clin­ton has dis­played the high­est tenac­ity to put a woman be­hind the main desk in the White House.

But many can’t look past her gen­der to take her se­ri­ously as a vi­able can­di­date. Chris Matthews called her the “she-devil” on MSNBC, and CNN’s Wolf Bl­itzer called her “feisty.” I can’t imag­ine all the other com­ments she has en­dured over the years, since my col­league’s re­cent quip about sex­ism frus­trated me.

The dia­logue dur­ing this elec­tion, how­ever, could be dif­fer­ent. A non­par­ti­san project called “Name It, Change It” seeks to end misog­y­nis­tic cov­er­age of not just Clin­ton, but of all women can­di­dates in the press.

Ac­cord­ing to their web­site, “a highly toxic me­dia en­vi­ron­ment per­sists for women can­di­dates, of­ten neg­a­tively af­fect­ing their cam­paigns,” and that’s if women even run. The ef­fort is a coali­tion of She Should Run, Women’s Me­dia Cen­ter, and Po­lit­i­cal Par­ity, and says women are 50 per­cent less likely than men to se­ri­ously con­sider run­ning for of­fice. Fur­ther­more, they are 33 per­cent less likely to view them­selves as qual­i­fied.

I am tired of try­ing. I’m tired of hear­ing how much less I make as a woman than my male coun­ter­parts. I’m tired of see­ing only one woman have the po­ten­tial to be­come our first fe­male pres­i­dent, and al­ways with an em­pha­sis on “po­ten­tial.” It’s time to see the fruits of our la­bor re­al­ized, but there seems to be one fun­da­men­tal flaw in how we’re try­ing to get it done: the way we see our­selves.

It seems we con­tinue to be­lieve a Prince Charm­ing will come to save us; that if we do the work some­one will no­tice and fin­ish the task for us. Well, Prince Charm­ing isn’t real and no one is com­ing. It’s up to us, to you, to be­lieve in your own abil­i­ties and worth. You can make more money, you can be Pres­i­dent, you can do any­thing and don’t need a man’s ac­cep­tance in or­der for it to hap­pen. But un­til you ac­cept that truth, as women we will con­tinue to spin our wheels with­out re­ally get­ting any­where.

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