Sexism in the 21st century has become a complicated concept, as many people feel equality between men and women has already been reached. This can be disputed, however, by viewing just one basic aspect of our everyday lives: money. Not only is sexism present in the controversy regarding equal pay for equal work, but also on the physical currency.
Whenever a person is paying for something, they can expect to look down and see a man’s face staring back up at them. Not one woman is pictured on a regularly used bill or coin. This clear discrimination was perhaps acceptable in 1928—when the United States Treasury selected the paper currency—but cannot be ignored in 2016.
The “Women on 20s” campaign addresses the fact that a woman’s face is missing from U.S. currency. The campaign believes that this issue within the U.S. coinage is an important feminist issue—their slogan being, “Women’s place is on the money.” Women on 20s describes itself on its website as “a non-profit, grassroots organization which aims to compel historic change by convincing President [Barrack] Obama that now is the time to put a woman’s face on our paper currency.”
The campaign argues that the U.S. currency is outdated as a whole, but especially the $20 bill. It argues that “money sends a message both at home and abroad about what and whom we value as a nation.” The site continues, “Keeping an Andrew Jackson bill in wide circulation means we celebrate and evaluate historic figures who used and condoned violence against personal enemies and populations of marginalized people.”
With this harsh criticism of the $20 bill comes the fact that women are largely unrepresented in society as a whole—all the while celebrating problematic men. The campaign argues that this type of discrimination in our currency “conveys the message that women are not important enough or independent enough to have a bill of their own.” The efforts of this movement to change this patriarchal nature are much needed.
The New York Times explains that many other countries have beaten the U.S. to having women on their paper money, including countries in South America, Europe and the Middle East. As a progressive country, the U.S. should be among these countries—the U.S. should be the one setting a standard for basic gender equality.
The efforts of the Women on 20s campaign has not gone completely unnoticed. Buzzfeed reported in June 2015 that the U.S. Treasury officials planned to redesign the $10 bill. The Treasury Department said that the $10 bill “should feature a woman who was a champion for our inclusive democracy.” Exactly who this woman is will be released later on in the year and the bill will be in circulation in 2020. This will literally change the face of U.S. currency forever.
Overall, the efforts of the Women on 20s campaign—along with the lobbying efforts of many—have contributed to this colossal first step. Even though the campaign was unable to get a woman on the $20 bill, the declaration by the U.S. Treasury Department will allow for further equality.
By 2020, a worthy woman will be depicted on U.S. currency in time for the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment. This achievement is just a small step in conquering everyday sexist micro-aggressions ingrained in our country’s history.