In case no one has ever noticed, dudes get things named after them all the time. Cities, streets, whole states (Washington, anyone?). In fact, both North and South America actually get their titles from Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer who now has an entire hemisphere named in his honor. And as ridiculous as that is, it's even nuttier that no one seems to think it's odd that this practice is completely one-sided. I mean, when was the last time you saw anything named after a woman?
Looking to draw attention to this issue, Silvia Radelli has created an alternate map of the Paris metro system, one with the stations renamed after women. Where once there was Alexander Dumas, now there is Jane Austen. Where once we had Franklin Delano Roosevelt, now we have his wife Eleanor (who was at least as cool as he was). And you can also find everyone from Simone de Beauvoir to Mika Yamamoto to Indira Ghandi to Nefertiti to Coco Chanel. Excellent!
On the surface, it might not seem like women not having subway stops named after them is such a big deal, but it speaks to a a deeper double-standard. As Radelli herself says, her map presents, "another history of the world," one where women's achievements are valued and honored instead of belittled and ignored. The map is its own little paradise, one where Susan Sontag has as much right to have her name on a metro station as Cardinal Lemione, where Anne Frank deserves as much recognition as the Battle of Alesia. It's a place where you can give directions like, "Transfer at Nina Simone and get off at Jane Addams."
Wherever this beautiful paradise is, I would like to live there, please.
The map is currently on display in Paris' Galerie L'Aléatoire until March 29th, though we wouldn't mind it being on permanent display in Paris metro stations as the city's official map. Because the system currently has 303 stations, and only a handful named after women. And that is just ridiculous. This version is much better.
Image: Silvia Radelli