Where Are the Women?
by Mary Anne Trasciatti
According to figures from the 2000 census quoted in the City’s Wikipedia entry (which desperately needs an update), for every 100 females in Long Beach, there are 92.7 males. You wouldn’t know it from looking at city streets and parks and other public spaces. Just about everything is named after a man. Streets in the Canals are named after golfers, and not famous ones: Has anyone heard of Dalton? Curley? Harmon? The logic for nomenclature in the President Streets speaks for itself. No women there. The Boulevards also include names of a few presidents (Lincoln, Monroe, Washington), as well as one of a Founding Father (Franklin), an 18c. French general (Lafayette), and the last Long Beach mayor (Edwards), who was killed by an assassin’s bullet. The plaza in front of City Hall is named for Kennedy. The community center is named for Martin Luther King. The sculpture in the Magnolia Playground, renovated post-Sandy, represents a young boy. Even the icons in the boardwalk signs indicating where you can walk and bicycle are male.
Where are the women? One can also ask: Where are the people of color? Other than Martin Luther King, all of the above examples are white males, including the boy in the Magnolia playground and the icons in the boardwalk signs.
The near complete absence of women of any color from public space is by no means unique to Long Beach. Much larger cities have the same problem. Manhattan has 150 historical monuments, only 5 of which are women. Advocates for statues of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in Central Park are working to change that. And it’s not just an American problem. When Parisians recently discovered that approximately 2 percent of streets in their city are named after women, feminists took matters into their own hands and changed some of the names overnight. Italians women have been working to rectify the gender imbalance in their cities and towns by naming streets and parks after women.
It’s time we did something in Long Beach. Magnolia Pier is a perfect candidate for a name change. The possibilities numerous. Let’s nominate some women candidates, hold a vote, and make a change.