Attempts to get a National Women’s History Museum bill passed in the Senate are stalled because two Republican Senators have put a hold on the bill, which would allow plans to go forward to build the museum, at no cost to taxpayers. In the NY Times on Saturday (9/24/10), Gail Collins describes the bizarre situation in which two conservative Senators have (for now) put a stop to the bill, which is sponsored by a Republican, because.. well, that's where things get kind of strange.
Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, says that he objects to the museum because “.. it duplicates more than 100 existing entities that have a similar mission.” There are more than 100 museums devoted to women's history? Yes, indeed, and these apparently include:
.. the Quilters Hall of Fame in Indiana, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Texas and the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Washington.
Wake up and smell the lilacs, Senator Coburn. By that reasoning, perhaps it makes sense to dismantle the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History because there is a Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio and it is possible to take a tour of Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace. Oh yes, and you can also go to the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, see the very bed in which Nixon was born, and then buy commemorative golf balls in the gift shop. What else do we need to know about men and their role in American history? That sounds like more than enough to me, speaking as a concerned taxpaying female.
What are these senators really worried about? That supporting a women's history museum will be seen as supporting a liberal cause because "women's history museum" might be secret code for "feminism"? It's hard to say, but it's too bad these guys feel the need to protect their hard-core conservative reputations by being against a history museum. And it's too bad if they really think that quilts, cowgirls, and lilacs are sufficient to tell what Gail Collins calls "the whole, big amazing story."
I don't feel rabidly enraged about a lack of a national women's history museum, but I also can't see any sane reason why anyone would object to one. If such a museum existed, I would definitely visit it, especially if they had Susan B. Anthony golf balls and Ida B. Wells snow globes in the gift shop.
7 years ago