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Suzanne Scoggins, Director of Women's History

You know what I like best about our balloon project? That it’s so subversive.

As women and feminists, we’ve always had to find ways around the entrenched power structures to get our stories told. Remember the Guerrilla Girls in the 80s? Remember the “This demeans women” stickers in the 70s?

The establishment institutions are biased against women and girls, which of course is why EVE exists in the first place. And it’s unavoidable that a big part of our work is focused on effecting change in those institutions: stamps, currency, statues, street names.

But the balloon project gives us an opportunity to go rogue. It’s a wildly subversive way to get women’s history right there in front of people, bypassing the corporate media and the official textbooks and the documentaries and the museums and the memorials—all that male-centered, woman-denying stuff that dominates the landscape. Think of it: a 40-foot helium balloon of Amelia Earhart—or Harriet Tubman, or Susan B. Anthony, or Clara Barton—sailing down the street. Impossible to miss. And the television announcers will be reading the script we’ve supplied, explaining what the balloon is all about, who the woman was. Millions of people will be exposed to real women’s history. Millions of people will hear our message.

I admit, it took me awhile to see the beauty of the plan. When Lynette Long first presented the idea to me, I was like, what? Parade balloons? I’d never thought about it. But the more we talked about it and the more I learned, the more I realized what we could do with this. We are incredibly lucky to have hooked up with Toni McKay, whose StarBound Entertainment is one of the top two balloon suppliers in the country. She totally believes in this project, and is chomping at the bit to get these balloons designed and built. And because of her position in the industry, she has the ability to make sure our balloons fly in some of the biggest parades in the country.

My fantasy now is to some day have parade balloons of all those women who ought to be world-famous, but aren’t. Can you imagine? I want to hear the TV announcer introducing these balloons:

Admiral Grace Hopper: the woman who invented modern computer programming.
Buffalo Calf Road Woman: the Cheyenne warrior who killed Custer.
Mercy Otis Warren: the woman who conceived of the Bill of Rights.

But first we need to get Amelia Earhart launched. If you haven’t chipped in yet, please consider giving if you can. As we point out in the Q&A about the balloon, it’s a great value for the money. The balloon will last for 20 years and be seen by millions of people every year—and all for less than $10,000.

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4 Responses
  1. Nancy Foye-Cox says:

    Excellent thoughts, Suzanne!

  2. marille says:

    I liked the idea of balloons from the start, but can see the potential huge effects much clearer now. you are absolutely right Suzanne. Will work on getting the discussion going.

  3. Donate by this Sunday so you can see Amelia in the skies this Labor Day! : EVE | Equal Visibility Everywhere says:

    [...] also: Uppity Women and Subversive History. Share [...]

  4. Ta-da! Official artist sketch of the Amelia Earhart balloon! : EVE | Equal Visibility Everywhere says:

    [...] of girls. And it will be the first parade balloon ever to honor a woman — did you know that? As I wrote last month: It’s a wildly subversive way to get women’s history right there in front of people, bypassing [...]