It's no secret that women are underrepresented in many facets of society including public office, STEM fields, and Hollywood. Adding to the problem is the fact that the names of geographical landmarks usually honor famous and accomplished men instead of women. A new video called "Put Her On The Map" by BBDO New York, an advertising agency, calls attention to exactly that, highlighting the many objects, as opposed to streets and other places, that are named after women. As you'll notice below, many of these objects carry a negative connotation that boxes women in specific gender roles or societal norms that are ultimately disrespectful and offensive to women.
The campaign, posted on Feb. 8, 2017, was created for the 2017 MAKERS Conference, an event that empowers women to become storytellers and sheds a much-needed light on important social issues like gender inequality. This year's MAKERS conference theme was #BEBOLD to launch "a bold agenda that flips the script and creates lasting impact," according to the MAKERS website. Presentations for the event made pressing issues like gender-based violence the focal point, along with the challenges and solutions that come with them.
The BBDO video starts off with several young girls listing off things that are named after women, such as types of clothing. These include Daisy Dukes (tight-fitting denim shorts traditionally worn by women) and Mary Jane shoes, which have promoted the innocent "little girl" look for decades. Streets, landmarks, and memorials — all commonly named after notable men — are noticeably absent from the list.
Then, a voice in the background asks the interviewees, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It's a powerful question that shows the little girls struggling to think of female role models they'd like to emulate in the future. One girl names "The Rachel," a haircut sported by actress Jennifer Aniston in the hit show Friends. Another girl mentions a "lazy Susan," which is a rotating tabletop often used for large meal gatherings (people can "swivel" the dishes over directly to them, which makes serving food easier).
Other objects mentioned in the video include Aunt Flo (yep, that's right: your period); dollies, a metal hand cart used for carrying boxes and other heavy items; and the rarely used $1 coin featuring Sacagawea, a Native American woman who played a major role in Lewis and Clark's expedition. Oh, and drinks like Shirley Temples and Bloody Marys. It's funny, sure — the girls' delivery is spot on — but it also makes a powerful point.
See the entire video here for yourself:
While there is no shortage of strong, intelligent, amazing women in American history to look up to, these girls in the video can't list monuments, streets, or memorials named for any because there simply aren't that many of them. On the other hand, plenty of men have been memorialized throughout the country in the form of schools, street signs, neighborhoods, historical monuments, and cultural institutions. For instance, Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in New York City, is named after a Broadway and movie actor from the 1950s. Another one: Johns Hopkins University was christened "Johns Hopkins" to honor the late American abolitionist and entrepreneur.
The BBDO video is far from being the first time that an argument has been made for more places to be named after laudable women. The "City of Women" subway map, for example, renames all the subway stations in New York City to honor powerful women instead, from the revolutionary writer Zora Neale Hurston to women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony.
It's unfortunate that even though it's the year 2017, we are still having to make these reminders about the value of women. In an ideal world, we wouldn't have to make videos like this in the first place and making a point to honor more women wouldn't be a big deal. But we'll keep referring to the same statistic as much as we need to in order to get the point across: Women make up 50 percent of the population, and our country wouldn't be half of what it is today without women. It's time our landmarks and institutions reflect that.