Last week, the Trump Administration signaled that the black woman abolitionist Harriet Tubman will most likely not replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill after all. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will not endorse the plan for the redesign of the bill that was announced last year by the Obama Administration. “This is something we’ll consider but right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on.”
This is the message women are told over and over: you and your issues are not important, we’ll get to them- maybe- after we’ve addressed everything else that matters. As long as men are making the decisions, women’s issues, however big or small, will never be given the attention they deserve. Trump is determined to undue as much of Obama’s accomplishments as possible, with no concern for the harm he causes women, or anyone else, in the process. We are collateral damage.
Trump said he wants to “see if we can maybe come up with another denomination”. He mentioned the $2 bill, which circulates in the smallest volume of any bill. “I think it would be more appropriate” he said. He thinks a woman would be more appropriate on the one denomination that is barely used. When’s the last time you used a $2 bill, or even seen one? That’s where he’ll consider honoring a woman.
Currently, there are no women on any US Currency. The government regularly redesigns paper currency to frustrate counterfeiters, but the “people” honored on the bills have remained the same for nearly a century. They are all white men. Just like the vast majority of all the commemorative statues and monuments to “history” in our country. Women are over 50% of this country and its history, but we can’t be represented on even one currency denomination? (Women are represented on less than 9% of historical statues and monuments nationwide.)
Harriet Tubman was born enslaved, escaped to freedom, and repeatedly led other slaves to freedom. She served as a Union scout during the Civil War and became a prominent advocate for giving women the right to vote. Jackson’s historical legacy is fraught. He orchestrated the removal of Native Americans from lands east of the Mississippi River, sending them on the long march West remembered as the “Trail of Tears”. He caused one of the deepest recessions in American history by preventing a new charter for the Second Bank of the United States (a forerunner of the Federal Reserve). And he strongly opposed the use of paper money. Who is making the decisions about which people deserve to be commemorated?
Trump and his administration have shown us over and over again what they think of women. Yet at every campaign event he stages, he makes sure to have a few “Women for Trump” signs strategically placed in front. (See- no one loves women more than Trump. Women love him!) I am confused and saddened by these actual “Women for Trump”. He has been crystal clear in his contempt for women in his comments, his actions, and his policies. Do women really have such low self- esteem?
It makes me think of women who stay in situations of domestic violence (I don’t mean to diminish the emotional and financial complexity of these situations). Why don’t they leave? If they love him enough he’ll realize he loves them too? He apologizes after every beating, so they give him another chance, knowing there’s actually a woman- loving man buried inside all the hate and if they stick with him he will emerge? Do they think he will actually “Make America Great Again” and that even though his vision of Greatness does not include them, they will somehow be allowed to go along for the ride and reap some benefit from association if they remain devoted and true to him?
Wake up, this is not going to happen! He’s using his actions and his words, as we tell our children to do. Women are not important. What is it going to take for women to understand that supporting leaders who do not support us is not the path to power?
People are in an absolute uproar over everyone’s rights being trampled lately: LGBT, Dreamers, Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks, Jews, the list goes on and on. But women? Our basic human rights are trampled in ways large and small, every way, every day, and no one, not even women themselves, can feel outrage on our own behalf. Are we just so conditioned to putting everyone else before ourselves that we are unable to fight for our own rights? We’ve been oppressed for so long it feels normal? Is it just too “unfeminine” even in 2017, to say women matter too???