Chatting About Women On 20s: The Final Four

Ester: Hello!

Nicole: Hi! So today I learned that I don’t really know what a mutual fund is. Turns out it is so much more than what I was imagining.

Ester: Hahahaha I thought we were going to talk about Women on 20s, not our own ignorance of finance! (Viz, this piece in the April issue of Marie Claire, in which I am quoted confessing my lack-of-knowledge.)

Nicole: Yes, let’s absolutely talk about Women on $20s. We are down to four candidates, yes?

Ester: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller. Replacing Jackson with Mankiller seems like a no-brainer to me. What could be more American than that?

Nicole: I am definitely rooting for Chief Wilma Mankiller, and you know everyone is going to make the “Mankiller” joke, so it feels embarrassing to re-make it, but she lived an amazing life. Also, she is not particularly well-known, at least not in the “Eleanor Roosevelt is a household name” sense, which makes the designation feel even more meaningful. It’s your contribution, not just because you’re famous.

Not to denigrate any of the other women’s contributions! This is hard. Why can’t we have four $20 bills?

Ester: Yes! Why are we pitting women against each other? We should be uniting against The Man. Really, though, I have nothing but admiration for all of the women under consideration; each of them deserves a place on our currency, so let’s make it happen. Then what are the meninists — men-onites? — going to do, not use $20 bills? Let’s pop some popcorn and watch the show.

Nicole: If The Billfold had done April Fools Day posts I had one all ready to go titled “Government Announces $30 Bill Because You Can’t Buy Anything For $20 Anymore.” But the $20 is, like, the most popular bill, right? I am completely making this up, but it feels like it is something that could be true.

Ester: It’s definitely my favorite. It is also the one that comes out of ATMs. That means it is probably the most handled bill.

Nicole: So what would be the reason why we can’t make four $20s? We have 50 quarters, after all.
Is it that the $20 would be hard to distinguish from other bills if it had one of four faces on it? Is it a cost thing?

Ester: Let’s call the Treasury Dept! No, just kidding, let’s speculate. I imagine there are so many layers to our national bureaucracy, and so many obstacles to any kind of change, that it’s hard enough to make one shift, let alone four. Congressional committees probably want to vet each potential candidate, and anyway they’re super busy right now refusing to schedule a vote for Loretta Lynch.

Nicole: This is very true. And even after Women On $20s completes its final vote, it’s not like this is an official thing, right? It’s a grassroots effort.

Ester: Very much so, as I understand it. With the idea being that once we pick a candidate, we unite behind her and get to the lobbying. But mostly I think it’s just an Internet-friendly PR stunt. Unless or until Hillary Clinton puts her weight behind it.

Nicole: Well, Hillary Clinton on the $20 would be an obvious choice. It would fit with our theme of “everyone’s a president except Benjamin Franklin.”

Ester: The women have to be dead though, I think. I mean, our rules indicate that any prospective currency candidate has to be. Presumably so that they can’t pop up on Twitter and say something outrageous that makes us regret we ever suggested them.

Nicole: But I want the Hillary selfie while she’s holding her own face on a $20! It would be so meta. Also, I just checked: Alexander Hamilton, not a president, is on the $10. I was about to say Grant was on the $50 but then I remembered he was both a Civil War leader and a president. So that’s just one more thing I don’t know about money!

Ester: There are mysterious upon mysterious when it comes to our dollar bills, though. All that Masonic imagery? And hasn’t history declared Grant kind of incompetent? I guess we should feel grateful Robert E. Lee isn’t looking back at us out of our wallets.

Nicole: Someday they’re going to let us design our own money and put whatever face we want on it. The same way they let us design our own checks and credit cards. We can send in old bills and get new ones. I’m sure that’s a completely workable system.

Ester: That would be very postmodern because people used to do that all the time, right? Countries invented things like “official Bank of England notes” because the alternative was folks creating and using their own kinds of money. It was a pretty chaotic system. Yours would be simpler, of course: standardized twenties, but we could draw in whoever’s face we want in the middle? Or, what am I thinking, it’ll totally be digital. We’ll be able to browse a few pictures, Tinder-style, and swipe right for “Mankiller.”

(Is “right swipe” good and “left swipe” bad? I can’t remember; the last time I dated I was 18.)

Nicole: Right swipe is good, if anything on Tinder can be said to be “good.” I would definitely right swipe for a woman on the $20.

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