Where the Streets Have (Different) Names

oKbJ2kCOur family lives on a street named “Shirley.”

In the 10+ years we’ve lived here, I’ve never once wondered about the significance of that name. Are we talking about Shirley Temple? Or Shirley MacLaine? Or, with a nod to my wife’s literary brain, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables?

Or could Shirley the name of our track developer’s daughter? Or wife? Or mother-in-law? Or, given the fact that the next street over is “Dennis,” perhaps we’re talking about some 1970s era Clovis, CA power couple?

Who knows?!?

I’ve never wondered about our street name’s significance until I read this article.

It tells the story of a group of subversive Parisian feminists who spent a recent night renaming 60 streets in Paris after notable French women. Yep, evidently they printed up some signs, downed some espresso, called up Google maps and did some city (re)planning.

From the article:

In visual protest of the fact that only 2.6 percent of the streets in Paris, the capital of France, are named after notable women, French feminist group Osez le Féminisme pulled off a covert stunt that left almost all of the street signs on the Île de la Cité with new names yesterday morning. Overnight, they managed to cover around 60 real street signs on the historic island in the Seine with new ones boasting the names of women who made “incredible contributions” to France’s history.

I love it!

Wondering about this group’s motivation? Here you go:

Aurelia, a spokeswoman for the organization, explained the motivation behind their guerrilla marketing campaign, which coincides with the 45th anniversary of the women’s liberation movement, to The Local. “Little kids walking around Paris will subconsciously be taking in the history of France through things like street signs. They’ll think that France was built by great men – but it’s important they know about the important women too.”

Interesting. I wonder if one of the streets they renamed was the “Rue de Tertullian?”

I’ve said it many times before, but male privilege can be extraordinarily subtle. As subtle as a major international city with a mere 2.6% of its streets named after women.

Closer to home, we’ve got a bit of Paris here in our town. Our city’s name, Clovis, honors our founder, Clovis Cole. So there’s a Clovis Ave., and, for good measure, not only is there a Cole Ave., there’s also a Cole Elementary.

But it doesn’t stop there. According to the Clovis wikipedia page, “the original townsite featured streets named for the officers and principal investors of the railroad: (Benjamin) Woodworth, (Marcus) Pollasky, Fulton (Berry), (Thomas) Hughes, (Gerald) Osmun, and (O. D.) Baron.”

You got it. All guys.

Perhaps I need to gather a band of Clovis feminists and start making some signs…

2 responses to “Where the Streets Have (Different) Names”

  1. kimberlykmac says :

    Yes. Do it. Make signs.

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