Women in DC

Loved our first trip to DC, but the feminist in me kept getting annoyed at all the memorials dedicated to men. Lincoln, Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Frances Scott Key, Jefferson. Think if we replaced every male memorial with a woman? I had to look up the stats of female vs male memorials to make sure I wasn't going crazy. I found out that across the nation, of the 5,193 public outdoor sculptures, less than 8 percent are of women. To go further, "none of the 44 national memorials managed by the National Park Service (such as the Lincoln Memorial) specifically focus on women and their accomplishments." (read here in the Washington Post). What kind of message is this sending?

The National Museum of American History really got me going. It had a wing devoted to the dresses the first ladies wore and the china they picked during their husband's administration. Glittery gowns and tea sets! Style icons! How every respectable gal should be remembered. I wanted to die when I saw it. But not as much I did when I found myself saying the following cringe worthy things:

While walking out of the DC train station:
Me (shouting): "Look! It's the White House! Wow." I tear up with excitement. No one bothers to correct me that I'm starring at Capital Hill.
Hours later, while walking past the actual white house.
Me: "Oh, so that's the White House. . ." Thanks guys.

While taking a walking tour of Georgetown, I asked what looked like a university professor on campus:
Me: "Know any good restaurants around here?"
Him: "Yeah, there's a pizza place right here." (points to a map)
Me: "Ok, looks like it's between 5th and PO-Taaa-MOC Ave?"
Him: Well, we pronounce it, Potomac."
Me laughing uncomfortably: I, uhh, didn't go to college here obviously.

While in the hot tub at our hotel:
Rob: Hey, maybe we should go to the mall tomorrow.
Me: Uhh, no. I don't want to go to the mall. (Disgusted he would even suggest it.)
Rob: It's not a shopping mall, the mall has museums and pathways in the center of DC.
Me: Ohhh, yeah. Let's go. (But first I slowly descend underwater in embarrassment.)

So while I know I won't be getting a monument dedicated to me anytime soon, here's to hoping there's a brave and intelligent woman out there with a giant national memorial in her near future. I mean, a giant, yet dainty, sparkly stylish memorial.

Above is the White House below is the Capital Building. I know I'm not the only idiot who thought these buildings were the same thing.

these horses were probably male too. 

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  1. I hadn't thought about the male/female memorials, but you are so right. Now I'm feeling annoyed!

    Also - got to say I love that you included those conversations! Hilarious :)

  2. I live in DC and I wish I would've seen you. This is such a hysterical post. Did you eat at Pizza Paradiso?

    1. ha yep, the pizza was good. i got mussels on mine.

  3. When I was in high school (in TEXAS!!) I once asked "how many quarters are in a football game?" I feel like they should have revoked status as a Texan right then and there.

  4. "these horses were probably male too." Bwahahaha too funny. I mean...laugh to keep from crying re: the sad disparity of male/female. WTF indeed!

  5. Haha - I just finished watching (and blogging about) the movie "White House Down", and I STILL thought they were the same thing until this post! Lol

  6. You didn't see a statue of Oprah yet?....I'm sure it's coming soon:)

  7. I totally feel you on this. It's incredibly frustrating.


  8. I know it's not for one specific woman but there is a Women in Military Service Memorial. It's near Arlington National Cemetery so it's a bit out of the way.

  9. HA! I made the same exact mistake, thinking the Capitol Building was the White House. Worse still, we later saw the Red Cross building and (despite the, well, the red cross on the front), my fiance, friends, and I all thought it was the White House... By the time I actually DID see the White House, I was already over it.

  10. When I lived there I called Washington memorial the pentagon. Whoops!

  11. Love your blog. In Ottawa there is a great set of sculptures dedicated to the "Famous Five." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Famous_Five_(Canada)

    It's excellent.

    1. Wow Sheri. I've never heard of this. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. It is excellent.

      In 1927, The Famous Five, asked the Supreme Court of Canada to answer the question, "Does the word 'Persons' in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?" in the case Edwards v. Canada.

      The answer? No. The petition was filed on August 27, 1927,[3] and on 24 April 1928, Canada's Supreme Court summarized its unanimous decision that women are not such "persons".[2]

      Unbelievable that this was happened less than 100 years ago.

    2. Sharon: you need to watch Iron Jawed Angels (http://iron-jawed-angels.com/). It focuses on the American women's suffrage movement, has an amazing cast, and deals with the "Persons" case.

  12. This post made me love you even more. Yay for feminism! Here in Norway (and sweden too!) this is still a problem. Which is just ridiculous and sad since we live in - probably - the most gender equal society in the world. A sculpture park just opened in Oslo with loads of great art, all of women. But still… No statues of women-who-have-accomplished-something. No women with names.

    Which sucks…! There should be a Bechdel-like test one can use on cities to see if they are gender equality positive or not. :)

    1. Yeah--totally. that's the thing, No women with names.

  13. Last year a Swedish friend of my husbands went to Washington DC and when he put the pictures up on Facebook we were looking through and my Swedish husband not me the American noticed that he labeled the memorials wrong and I was like O yeah I was going to say the same thing yet actually I had no idea!

  14. I totally get the confusion of the buildings. I wouldn't have known the first time I went if they weren't labeled on the map I was using. One thing I did learn after my first trip is that what I thought was the front of the white house is actually the back. The photo you have above is of your kids in the back of the white house. I wasn't until my 3rd or 4th trip to DC that I saw the front. I just don't understand why the front doesn't face Pennsylvania Ave ?!?!

  15. "the horses were probably male too." Hahaha Sadly, they probably were. I have wanted to visit DC for a while now, when I finally do visit I will think of this post. It is quite upsetting that there are not more female monuments and recognition throughout the city.

  16. pffff...regarding your not knowing the names of the places. Just think of the thousands of tourists daily in NYC mistaking the Chrysler building for the Empire State and all the other things.

    When I went to DC the first time my aunt (who I barely knew) worked in Science policy for the Clinton Administration. I was from Australia and knew very little about American politics. I got to tour some special places and meet some people. THE WHOLE TIME, I was wearing a biggish silver pendant necklace of an elephant, which looked a lot like the symbol of the GOP :) Eventually my friend from Jersey pointed it out but not until I'd worn it to the White House and around many Democrat staffers. ugh.

  17. Sharon, you're just the best, really! xoxo

  18. Ughh, I hear you! I was so ticked when I saw the first ladies' exhibit this fall!

  19. This post made me laugh so much! Mostly your pronunciation of Potomac! I am from the D.C. area and even people that have lived there for ages mispronounce things. Some of the other names are really hard because of the Native American words. (one I always remember is the Assawoman, ugh maybe that is why there are no female monuments?)

  20. you are hilarious - loved this!

  21. I love the direction you're taking your blog.

  22. Fantastic post. Hilarious - and all true. Love the "these horses were probably male, too."

  23. Did you get to the FDR Monument--yes, I know, another man. BUT there is a section in that gorgeous monument site for Eleanor Roosevelt, with an actual monument/statue of her. I don't know why I'd never heard of or been to FDR and Eleanor's monument until just a few years ago. It is awesome not to be missed!

  24. "These horses were probably male too." Ahhhh, that cracked me up! Thanks for sharing your funnies! I gotta say, I'm not sure if all capitals look alike, but the one in Texas looks just like the one in DC, so I never thought about people confusing the two (this is where I point out that the one in Texas is bigger ;) ). That being said, it's easy to get stuff confused in DC! Glad yall had fun.

  25. I loved all the pictures of D.C. It's so nice seeing D.C. from a tourist's point of view, since I'm so used to the city that I forget how awesome it is. (Though I totally agree about the male vs. female monuments - there definitely needs to be a push to memorialize female accomplishments beyond the pretty dresses that the first ladies wore).


  26. Greetings from a snowy DC. LOL you are funny. But not so funny is the lack of female repping in the achievement area...yep. I will say though that next time you're here, pls do stop in to the lovely & stylish National Museum of Women in the Arts. I'll include the link though I don't know if your comment section takes that...




  27. It's Capitol not Capital

  28. There's actually a memorial for women in military service at Arlington (http://www.womensmemorial.org/) and I see someone mentioned the National Museum of Women in the Arts. There are also lots of museums that have features on women beyond fashion. You just have to look a little harder!

  29. there is a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt right next to the Jefferson memorial. did you see that one?

  30. Haha! We eat at Pizza Paradiso every time we go to Georgetown too. It's the one place where no one complains about the menu. Next time you go though, try Kafe Leopold around the corner from there. They have killer desserts.

    ps. My good friend designed the first ladies' exhibit (and the food one too). I'll have to ask her if she ever felt conflicted as she was designing it.


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