Rewind

The Week in Women: money makeovers, “Queens of Syria,” and the history of women’s underpants

A gallery assistant poses with a design included in the exhibition "Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear" during a photo call preview in London, on April 12, 2016. (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s #FlashBackFriday, or so our Instagram feed tells us. For this week’s news roundup, we’ve curated a selection of headlines that were marked by a little blast from the past. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

It was announced this week that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, and that five leaders of the suffragette movement—Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul—will grace the back of the $10 bill. The treasury had originally planned to bump Alexander Hamilton from the face of the $10 note, but revoked that decision after both academics and fans of the Broadway show Hamilton reacted with outrage. The new bill designs are expected to be released by 2020, leaving plenty of time for Lin-Manuel Miranda to start working on his Lucretia Mott rap musical.

Queens of Syria, an adaptation of Euripides’ Trojan Women featuring an all-female cast of Syrian refugees, will embark on a three-week tour of the United Kingdom. The production interprets the celebrated Greek tragedy, which sees the enslaved women of Troy lamenting their subjugation at the hands of the Greeks—a narrative that lends itself to obvious parallels with the experiences of refugee women. Queens of Syria will premiere at the Young Vic in London, before traveling to other locations. “Going to London is a very good thing indeed,” Maha, one of the actresses in the play, told The Guardian, “because we can tell the whole world about our home tragedy.”

Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, the first English-language book written by a woman, is set to be displayed alongside The Book of Margery Kempe, the earliest autobiography by a woman. Kempe, who lived in Norfolk from approximately 1373 to 1440, had visions of God and was known for her loud, wailing, and reportedly very annoying devotions to Christ. Julian of Norwich was a 14th century anchorite and pious hermit, who experienced visions in 1373 like one of “a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand … I looked at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And the answer came to me, ‘It is all that is made.’” Feeling a bit sheepish about the fact that when we look at hazelnuts, we just have visions of Nutella.

A new exhibit at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum will shine a spotlight on the history of women’s undergarments. “Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear” (props on the pun) showcases 250 objects, including corsets, bras, briefs, and boxer shorts, along with film clips, packaging, and advertisements from the mid-1900s to the present. The exhibit also seeks to trace the origins of the current “athleisure” craze, which has seen loungewear and pajamas come out from the home and into women’s everyday wardrobes. “Undressed” displays a 1920s pajama playsuit worn at cocktail events and an evening slip from 1911, proving women have long known that true happiness lies in going pantsless.

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