The representation of minorities and women has gained significant traction this year. We have seen a steady increase of women (and minorities) in many media forms. We have seen women take over major box office movies and male dominated genres, like action; from the female ghostbusters, to Wonder Woman, and the first female jedi. There is growing proof that representation can gross profit, and more importantly can have a profound and meaningful impact on the populace they represent.
Photo by Anthony Quintano here
That is why it is depressing to read reports of a man humping the infamous and feminist icon of the fearless girl. The attempt to desecrate and belittle the powerful statue shows that, even when it seems we have progressed, it is clear that we still have a long way to go. The idea that someone would be offended by the idea of the fearless girl, by the idea of a woman in the public sphere, occupying space in the male dominated financial district is startling.
Photo by Lorie Shaull here
In the United States, as of 2011, of the 5000 historical statues only 400 represent women. Within Washington, DC there are 100 statues that depict historical figures and their contributions to society, science, politics and the arts. Of these 100 statues only five are of women. The statutes depicting females are more likely to reflect the woman’s familial influence as opposed to individual accomplishments. This information can be hard to swallow when you think about all the incredible achievements made by women that deserve recognition. Even when women are depicted, like the four female statues in central park, the monuments are meant to attribute the accomplishments of men. For example, all four of these female statues are fictional characters invented by men.
Just as women start seeing women break the glass ceiling and become represented properly in the media they are still being boxed out of recognition for their accomplishments. Lack of recognition and awareness of women’s achievements inhibit the empowerment of future generations of women.
The Maryland Legislature passed a bill that promised a statue of Harriet Tubman to be displayed in Capitol in 2012. Five years later we are still waiting for the historic first depiction of a black woman in the Nation’s capitol.
While the defacement of the Fearless Girl might at first seem like an ill-timed joke gone too far, it’s not hard to see the symbolic repercussions of the defacement. The Fearless Girl is not just one person, but a symbol of all women who have worked tirelessly to break into male-dominated fields. By defacing the statue it is not just the defacement of one person, it is the callous disregard for the struggle women have endured universally for centuries. This is similar to the (brief) instalment of the pissing pug on the Fearless Girl; by belittling the girl you belittle the accomplishments of the entire gender.
These acts of aggression against statues that are meant to show the power of women display the tenuous relationship women have with the public sphere. The humping of the statue shows the escalation of sexual harassment women would experience if they were sentient and unable to walk away from the threat of catcalling. The sexual defacing is a violent reaction to women who dare to take up public space instead of conforming to society’s expectations of being petite, polite and passive.