Lynette Long, Ph.D., President of EVE

Charged with “portraying the American experience to a world audience through the issuance of postage stamps,” the United States Postal Service has yet again provided the world with a partial view of American history and a biased view of the accomplishments of our citizenry.

The USPS will issue 55 different commemorative stamps this year, 16 of which will honor individuals. Only 4 women were selected for this year’s stamp issues: humanitarian Mother Teresa, actor Katherine Hepburn, vocalist Kate Smith, and poet Julia de Burgos. Even though women are over 50% of the population, they got only 25% of the stamps. This is the exact same percentage as last year.

Winslow Homer, American.  <em>Mending the Nets</em> 1882. Watercolor and gouache over graphite.

Mending the Nets. Winslow Homer, American, 1882. Watercolor and gouache over graphite.

An analysis of this year’s stamp issues raises some other problems as well. The USPS decided to issue a series of five cartoon character stamps, called “Sunday Funnies.” This series—which includes Archie, Beetle Bailey, Dennis the Menace, Garfield, and Calvin and Hobbes—ignores cartoon strips led by female characters. The USPS also issued a pane of stamps called “Abstract Impressionists,” honoring the “artistic innovations and achievements of 10 abstract expressionists, a group of artists who revolutionized art during the 1940s and 1950s and moved the U.S. to the forefront of the international art scene for the first time.” Only one of the 10 artists, Joan Mitchell, was a woman.

The stamp issues this year exhibited male bias in other ways. There was a stamp honoring the Boy Scouts with a picture of a boy scout. And the stamp honoring Winslow Homer featured his painting Boys in a Pasture. Many of Homer’s paintings featured women, one of my favorites being Mending the Nets, in which two young women are sitting on a bench mending fishing nets. If the USPS had selected this painting the stamp could have been a tribute both to the man who painted it and women who contribute so much work to the world.

If you are unhappy about the bias in this year’s stamp selections, please send a letter to: Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 1735 North Lynn St., Suite 5013, Arlington, VA 22209-6432.

Let’s hope there are more stamps of women next year.

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2 Responses
  1. Cindy says:

    I like Mother Theresa, I mean she’s pretty awesome but just how exactly doe she portray “the American experience”?

    Since she was from Albania and lived her life and work in India that further reduces the women chosen to portray this country of 300 million people where women actually do no small part of the good here.

    It is simply unacceptable.

    And, I freaking hate the Post Office.

  2. Jennifer Lee says:

    some women our USPS neglected:
    Dian Fossey, Shirley Chisholm, Georgia Okeefe,
    Julia Child