Monday, June 23, 2008

Icons


"Of the 210 statues in Washington, only nine are of women leaders. Less than 5 percent of the 2,400 national historic landmarks chronicle women’s achievements."

No, these figures do not reflect the actual percentage of women leaders or of women's achievements. What these figures tell us is that in the capital of our country, where I live and work, and where statues and monuments mean a great deal, women and their achievements are, relatively speaking, ignored.

You cannot live in Washington, D.C. without noticing this. But even if you do not and have only visited Washington D.C. as a tourist, try to think of a statue or monument you saw dedicated to a particular woman and her accomplishments. Try to think of one that features as prominently as any of the statues of men leaders you have seen.

Maybe you have been to the relatively new F.D.R. memorial and seen the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, fitted in among a park devoted primarily to celebrating her husband (and I love that memorial and admire F.D.R., but still...). Or, perhaps you have seen the Vietnam Women's Memorial, tucked into a spot a distance from the well-known Memorial Wall (which I think is a moving tribute to those who died in Vietnam War, but still...)

No wonder so many girls brought on school trips or by their parents to tour the nation's capital get the impression, explicit or implicit, that men always have - and always will - run the show.

But frankly, although I'm all for more public representation of past women leaders, I'm seriously bothered by writers who treat living women leaders as if they are no longer relevant or somehow by putting them on a pedestal manage to make them seem like they are consigned to the past. That was why I could not enjoy New York magazine's recent piece of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Early on the piece announces she is now iconic (among other things).

When it comes to the living, it is difficult to assess who is iconic and who is not. But that's not what matters when it comes to Senator Clinton: what matters is that she is a working politician, with a political future in front of her - if she wants that, which I believe she does.

By all means, let us work to memorialize past women leaders and their achievements. But certainly one other way to celebrate them is to support the career and aspirations of current women leaders, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

2 Comments:

Anonymous MonaP said...

There is a National Women's History Museum opening in Washington DC - the website is nwhm.org - check it out and support it - we must be heard.

MonaP
Tustin, CA

June 23, 2008 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Palomino said...

Hillary on Mount Rushmore!

June 23, 2008 at 9:52 PM  

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