When Alexandra von Maltzan asked all bloggers to submit lists of their 10 worst Americans of all time, many were quick to offer names. But almost none of the names was feminine.
The single exception was Ethel Rosenberg, who of course is associated directly with a man, her husband, Julius.
The 10-worst list now has led naturally to 10-best lists, with the same results. Few women. Names like Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony and Maggie Kuhn come to mind as some of the "best Americans" of all time, but they aren’t reaching the Top 10.
Inventors, writers and artists also seem relegated to secondary lists, perhaps for similar reasons.
One 10 best Americans list. In his comments, JJ Mollo offered these suggestions as the 10 best Americans of all time:
1. Ben Franklin
2. George Washington (gave up power)
3. Abe Lincoln (Union and land grant colleges)
4. Thomas Jefferson (Independence, Constitution, Louisiana Purchase, Philosophy of Freedom, Science)
7. Stephen Girard (banker, leader, philanthropist when Philadelphia was U.S. capital)
8. DeWitt Clinton (father of the Erie Canal)
9. Milton Friedman
10. Ralph Nader
That’s a fine list. I might find spots for Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King and Thomas Edison, and maybe even Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Albert Einstein, but JJ’s 10 are perfectly acceptable.
It’s hard to come up with a list that doesn’t look sexist. For many reasons, all 10 could be from the American Revolution, the Civil War and World War II, and because men held virtually every leadership post in those pivotal moments, women would be absent from the honors.
It doesn’t seem fair. On the other hand, Ethel Rosenberg aside, we men can’t exactly take pride in our command of American wickedness.