Let's Put Lots Of Women On Our Currency


There’s a lot of debate over the announcement by the U.S. Treasury that there will be a woman on the redesigned $10 bill to celebrate 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.

People opposing this are upset at the idea that Alexander Hamilton, one of our nation’s most important founders, will be replaced. There is also some feeling that the deliberate decision to pick a woman specifically will be a sort of backhanded compliment. As if the person in question will be an affirmative action pick, not someone simply being acknowledged for their accomplishments regardless of their gender.

There’s even some consternation about the decision among feminists who wanted the $20 bill but got the $10 bill of which there are a lot fewer in circulation.

Really, some of the reactions have been pretty over the top:

I really like the idea of honoring women on our currency, since to date we’ve only ever honored men (there have been some women on coins), but I can understand some of the objections.

Women want to feel like they’re getting something more than a token acknowledgement, and the $10 bill maneuver does seem a bit like tokenism (plus, of all the people featured on our currency, I wouldn’t mind seeing Andrew Jackson given the boot). Meanwhile, traditionalists don’t want it to seem as though we’re going to let PC politics lead to the diminishment of Hamilton’s recognition.

So here’s a compromise: Why not create multiple versions of each denomination, keeping those currently honored and adding more?

This would not only give us the opportunity to pick more than one woman from the long, long list of deserving possibilities but we could also perhaps expand the reasons why we’re acknowledging these people. To date, all of the people on the currency are there because of their political accomplishments.

Wouldn’t it be great if we put someone like, say, Sally Ride on the $20 bill to acknowledge her work in space exploration?

I think there is an opportunity here to honor a lot of great people, but as usual it seems we’re going to turn this into a political food fight with the usual entrenchment and recrimination from both sides.