There has been a push lately by many to get the face of a woman on the $20 bill. The justification for this is that there are currently no women on any U.S. coins or paper money. My knee-jerk comeback would be: “So what?” We also do not have any gays (that we are sure of), African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, American Somoans, Whigs, baseball players, porn actors, Kardashians, or short-haired blue-eyed American-Water-Spaniel therapy dogs. Just because a group is not represented does not mean it deserves to be. But upon further reflection, there is no reason all of the faces on money need to be white men. Surely, there are qualified candidates in all of these groups that deserve a shot. (My guess is that Kim Kardashian is the most qualified since her face and butt are everywhere else and she owns most of the money anyway).

But what about women? Have they had any representation?

Here’s a bit of interesting history for you: there were no men on U.S. coins before the 1859 Indian cent. However there was one idealized woman on most all coins.

Miss Liberty was on 41 different coin designs before 1859 and has been on about 70 coin designs in total. (In my counts, I am including coins that the populace may have had in their pockets and am excluding commemoratives, gold colds, platinum coins, etc.) There was Liberty Cap Facing Left, Liberty Cap Facing Right, Draped Bust, Flowing Hair, Braided Hair, Liberty Seated, Standing Liberty, Walking Liberty and many variations of these designs and others. Even the Mercury dime actually pictured Miss Liberty. Add 4 women on state coins and Susan B Anthony and Sacajawea for a total of 76 women on coin designs. I count 64 men on coin designs and this includes 24 Presidential Dollars, which frankly, I have never seen. [1]

Paper currency is more difficult to determine, since there is more room for pictures. I ignored people in the background. I counted each group of men or women in the foreground as one. Using this method, I counted 134 men and 41 women on U.S. paper currency. [2]

If we are really looking for diversity on our money, I would say other groups deserve a chance before any more women. But since women are the largest group of voters and very self-indulgent, I think I can safely bet an Alexander Hamilton that a woman will soon be on the $20 bill. But which woman? Here are the 15 women that the group Women On 20s have promoted as candidates: Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojournor Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

I think I can safely say that if a man had the same resume as any of these women, he would never be considered for face-time on money. But since we often have a lower standard for women and we will pick one, which woman is the most qualified?

I would eliminate Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Susan B. Anthony, Patsy Mink and Elizabeth Cady Stanton from the start. They were full-time women’s activists. Self-indulgent women selected the 15 candidates, so it is no surprise that they would select women’s activists. But both men and women have suffered due to their gender roles, and to fight to end women’s restrictions but not men’s, I find this totally sexist, selfish, and disqualifying. I would say that Warren Farrell would be a more deserving candidate since he has fought for both women’s and men’s rights, but no one would push for his picture to be on money, assuming he were dead. (Being dead is a requirement for being on American money and Farrell is very much alive, but you get my point).

Shirley Chisholm, Sojournor Truth, Barbara Jordan, and Harriet Tubman have fought for women’s rights as well as African-Americans’ rights. Again, fighting for women’s rights without also advocating for men’s rights is disqualifying in my mind. But did their fights for African-Americans’ rights overcome this problem? Shirley Chisholm’s focus was women’s rights, not African-Americans’ rights. Sojournor Truth, born a slave in New York, was basically an abolitionist lecturer, and as such, unremarkable. I also find Congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s accomplishments uninspiring, and she is known for the very sexist remark: “I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which a man structurally does not have. He does not have it because he cannot have it. He’s just incapable of it.” [3] Harriet Tubman, on the other hand, escaped from slavery, helped hundreds of other slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, was a leader in the abolitionist movement, and served as a nurse, scout and spy for the North during the Civil War. I would consider her a viable candidate for U.S. currency.

Rosa Parks was strictly a civil rights activist, and in my opinion, quite unremarkable in her accomplishments. She refused to give her seat to a white person on a Montgomery, Alabama bus which sparked a campaign by the NAACP to boycott the bus system. For this she was arrested and received a fine of $14. Besides this, she and her husband were fired from their jobs and moved to Detroit to find work. That seems to be the extent of her sacrifice. I can imagine that a black man in her situation would have been beaten or possibly killed. Martin Luther King, Jr. and E.D. Nixon, the leaders of the boycott, both had their homes destroyed by bombings. Not qualified.

Margaret Sanger was an advocate for contraception and family planning, but again, mostly for women. She established an organization which became Planned Parenthood. However, Sanger’s ideas were popular in Europe and probably would have come to the United States without her. Sanger was arrested in 1914, but jumped bail and fled to England—hardly the move of an American hero. She told the story of Sadie Sachs in her speeches, a woman who died after a self-inflicted abortion and apparently fictional. She also was racist, and an advocate of eugenics. Not qualified.

Eleanor Roosevelt also fought for women’s rights, and more generally, human rights, but again, not specifically men’s rights. Roosevelt instituted the planned community of Arthurdale, West Virginia—which failed. She advocated for equal application of New Deal programs to African-Americans, defended Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, helped working women receive higher wages, banned male reporters from her press conferences, lobbied for the immigration of groups persecuted by the Nazis, lobbied for government-sponsored day care, was a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, chaired the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and chaired the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. It is a close call, but I do not believe she is qualified to be on our currency. I believe that the bulk of her resume was due only to her being married to the President.

I find Rachel Carson’s contribution quite underwhelming. She wrote a book. Silent Spring helped start the environmental movement.

Clara Barton’s humanitarianism led her to help those devastated by war and natural disaster from around the world. She gathered supplies and formed field hospitals in aiding soldiers in the Civil War. She ran the Office of Missing Soldiers after the war. She also brought aid to war-torn Europe and brought the Red Cross to America from Switzerland. The American Red Cross aided flood, earthquake, forest fire, and hurricane victims as well as those ravaged by war. She was also one of the first women to hold a government job in the United States. I consider her qualified.

Frances Perkins was FDR’s Secretary of Labor and was instrumental in the establishment of Social Security, the Civilian Conservation Corps, child labor laws, minimum wage, and unemployment insurance. I consider her qualified.

In summing up, I do not believe any of the 15 candidates proposed by Women On 20s would even be considered if they were men with the same accomplishments. Of course, women have not been allowed the same opportunities for achievement, so maybe a lower standard is necessary. Even so, I would only consider Tubman, Barton, and Perkins as accomplished enough to be on U.S. currency. I also noticed that 10 of the 15 candidates from Women On 20s were very active women’s advocates.

This is one more example of the selfishness of women today, focusing only on those who benefit themselves.

[1] For the counts I used A Guide Book of United States Coins, 2014, by R.S. Yeoman and United States Coins By Design Types, 1989, by Q. David Bowers

[2] Source is Blackbook Price Guide To United States Paper Money 2015, by Marc Hudgeons, Tom Hudgeons, Jr., Tom Hudgeons, Sr


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