Last night, on the eve of International Women’s Day, news outlets and social media seized on the mysterious appearance of a statue of a defiant young girl staring down the famous Charging Bull statue. As it turns out, the statue of the little girl symbolically defying Wall Street was installed by… Wall Street itself.
The statue perfectly captures the essence of feminism: A childish sense of defiance lacking a clear objective. It is childish defiance for the sake of childish defiance.
The feminists at Village Voice are quite taken with the statue itself, but complain that this feminist message comes from a patriarchal corporation. That feminist empowerment is portrayed by a girl, and not a woman, would at first seem counterintuitive. A statue honoring the strength of men would not substitute a boy for a man; this would be absurd. But it isn’t absurd for a statue ostensibly paying homage to the strength of women. Even 54 years after Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique and 51 years after she co-founded NOW, feminism is still somehow a perpetual brand new experiment. It is something we just know will bear good fruit if we could ever get around to trying it. The girl in the statue represents feminist optimism, in the same way the bull she is opposing represents optimism for our economy.
By making the statue a depiction of a young girl, the artist avoids the need to depict an actual woman doing whatever it is the feminists are sure women are going to do. It also caters to the emotion of feminism, which is based on a burning discontentment with being women, and a driving envy of men. Sticking it to the man is the underlying desire. It is about tearing men and their accomplishments down, not about women building something of their own. While a woman sticking it to the man is delightful, having a mere girl stick it to the man is even better.
And yet, the creator of the statue has a problem. The pose is of a bratty little girl standing defiantly across from the Wall Street bull. This is what you see in the side view photo from Village Voice. If the face on the statue matched the pose, it would also be of a bratty little girl. But while bratty little girl is the emotion the statue is intended to evoke, actually putting a bratty little girl’s face on the statue would go too far. A little girl with a vexed brow or sticking her tongue out would fit the pose, but not the idea of empowerment. Clearly the sculptor recognized this, and instead creepily placed the face of a woman on the body of the bratty girl. Flip back and forth between the side view and the front view to see what I mean; it is uncanny.
Edit: Sir Hamster pointed out the following video showing a real girl standing next to the statue.
Also, a quote from a woman on another video which came up on Youtube for me after viewing the one above:
…when we saw it we were very struck, almost emotionally. You know the bull is kind of a symbol of almost a male power in a way, and this little girl is just standing there triumphant. I think it’s gorgeous. I love it.