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. I continued with the conversation as if he had said nothing at all, but internally I couldn’t believe he felt it appropriate to say that out loud.
Why do we continue efforts to get a woman on money? Yes, we’ve had a Susan B. Anthony and Sacajawea coin, but nothing that has proven popular or used widely. And we don’t have a female President the Treasury might automatically choose, as is the case with every other U. S. currency. At least, not yet.
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.
(Melissa Carter is one of the hosts on the Morning Show on B98.5 FM. In addition, she is a writer for Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of the few in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter)