In a few years’ time, everybody on British bank notes who isn’t the Queen will have a willy. My last post triggered a few responses from people who were totally cool with that. Here are some of their arguments, each followed by my response.
1. It’s positive discrimination!
The only criterion for appearing on a bank note is being a meritorious British figure. Therefore, it should be pretty unlikely that every single one of those people is male. It should be even less likely that this is the case in another 20 countries around the world.
Evidently, society favours men.
So it’s not positive discrimination. It’s redressing the current imbalance.
2. There are just way more notable men than women in history!
Easy mistake to make – history is told with a masculine bias. But are we going to celebrate that fact or are we going to put it right?
Oh, and: Jane Austen, Betty Boothroyd, the Brontë sisters, Agatha Christie, Emily Davison, Princess Diana, George Eliot, Millicent Fawcett, Audrey Hepburn, Margot Fonteyn, Rosalind Franklin, Vera Lynn, Edith Nesbit, Emmeline Pankhurst, Beatrix Potter, Jacqueline Du Pre, JK Rowling, Mary Seacole, Margaret Thatcher, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf.
(Also, for maximum Queen-related confusion, Helen Mirren)
3. It’s only a bloody bank note!
Yes, that’s exactly the point. The more mundane and arbitrary something is, the more it enters our subconscious and changes the way we look at our society. This is especially dangerous for young children who are particularly impressionable. It’s also an outward-looking thing – our currency reflects who Britain thinks are some of the most notable figures in our history.
It’s all terribly perpetual and at some point or other it really needs to stop, so why not now?
4. Churchill was a dude!
Great, slap him on a note, but why replace the only woman? She hasn’t even been there the longest (Darwin has).
5. What about the Queen?
Quite a common one floating around on Twitter, this. The fact of the matter is that, whatever you think of the royal family, the only thing the Queen has done to get herself onto our currency is to be born. It’s a tough life…
6. The designs change all the time anyway!
The turnover for the design on banknotes is roughly one change every 6-7 years. There are five notes in circulation. Assuming that every change after the one in 2016 replaces a woman with a man, the earliest that at least 50% of banknotes would feature women would be in 2034. By that time I will be old. And grumpy.
If you fancy signing the petition, click here.