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Finding Room in the Rotunda for Suffragettes

March 02, 1997

* Re "Suffer Not the Ladies of the Bathtub," Column Right, Feb. 23, about the statue of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott: Those three national heroines were responsible for extending democracy to half the population of our nation, and women everywhere, suspicious creatures that we are, get to wondering, what if it were a man who did this?

Would anyone doubt he deserved a place in the Capitol Rotunda, indeed history itself, alongside Washington, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.? Would anyone express the absurd concern that he wasn't "attractive" enough to take his place? Those three heroines deserve not just a spot in the Rotunda and our history books but a revered place in our hearts and minds as well.


Laguna Beach

* It's discouraging that the tone of ridicule taken by George Will toward a sculpture honoring American suffragettes is the very same tone taken by the men of the suffragettes' time toward them.

Trivializing the statue as symbolic of the "Put-Upon Woman" mind-set, Will would keep it out of the Rotunda. After all, its inclusion might mean displacing someone like Andrew Jackson! That's Jackson, the president responsible for abrogating federal treaties with the Native Americans and driving them from their lands. Honoring Jackson's betrayal, racism and cruelty seems to be preferable to Will to honoring the bravery, persistence and intelligence of the suffragettes. What a twit!


Pacific Palisades

* Symbols are important. For those of us that do not live in Washington, the experience of viewing the monuments on display there is a process of taking inventory of the greatness and diversity of our country's history. Will is more concerned with the "clean, geometric beauty of the Mall" than he is about the concern my little girl might feel upon her first visit to Washington, at seeing not one statue of a great American woman to ask questions about, or perhaps decide to model herself after.

The Rotunda does not belong to pundits or politicians, Mr. Will, it belongs to all Americans. Your fear of "monumentitis" is slightly less important than a Rotunda that all Americans, regardless of race or gender, can feel part of. Haul out the "Ladies in the Bathtub" and paint them with purple polka dots for all I care. In this case, as in most cases in a representative democracy, let fairness triumph over aesthetics.


North Hollywood

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