The Bank of England has been criticized because the next person selected to appear on English banknotes – Winston Churchill, on the 5-pound note – is again male, which will mean that all the figures selected to appear on English banknotes for their contributions to society will be men. Caroline Criado-Perez has begun a legal campaign against this blatent sexism, and all power to her.
One response she has apparently encountered is that this matter is too trivial an issue for anyone to be concerned about. But that particular argument is self-rebutting: If the placement of images of women on national banknotes is trivial and without significant material consequences, then why not do it?! The strength of the Bank of England’s dismissal of her campaign would seem to indicate that – to them, at least – the matter is not at all trivial. Perhaps we should not be surprised by antediluvial attitudes to gender from an organization whose front-doormen still dress in 18th-century clothes and top-hats.
The stated criteria for appearing on banknotes apparently includes: “the person should not be controversial”. How, then, I wonder did Winston Churchill, to this day distrusted in Australia as the chief architect of the disaster at Gallipoli, find himself selected?