New York City's 'Fearless Girl' Statue Is Dividing Opinion And It's Time You Understand Why

An editor of an online photography website has highlighted exactly why we shouldn't support the 'Fearless Girl' statue, which is being misinterpreted as a symbol of feminism.

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Last month, a bronze sculpture known as 'Fearless Girl' was erected in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City, looking at the well-known 'Charging Bull' statue.

And it was widely hailed as a turning point in New York City culture - a moment where we begin to recognise and glorify the strength and resilience of women publicly.

The fact that it was erected in the city's male-dominant financial district was all the more impressive. Plus the vision of the young pony-taled girl staring down a raging bull - an emblem of masculine virility - is even more symbolic.

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Designed by Kristen Visbal, the statue looked to everyone to be an epic feminist statement at just a moment when we all really needed one.

However, as with a lot of things, all might not be what it seems.

Let's break it down:

Earlier this month, the sculptor behind the Charging Bull, Arturo Di Monica, suggested that he would like the fearless girl to be removed or relocated.

The mayor of New York responded with this cutting tweet, which every woman in NYC and further afield wanted to get behind:

But a new blog post has revealed that Arturo Di Monica might actually have a point.

Greg Fallis, managing editor of photography website Utata.org, wrote a blog post arguing for the 'Fearless Girl' to be removed.

In the post entitled 'Seriously, the guy has a point', he explains why he's siding with the sculptor behind the Charging Bull.

'Charging Bull' sculptor, Arturo Di Modica
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The History of The Charging Bull

In 1987 there was a global stock market crash known as 'Black Monday'.

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As a result, Sicilian immigrant, Arturo Di Modica, responded by starting a two year, self-funded art project (it reportedly cost him £272,000), that later became known as 'The Charging Bull'.

At the time, he said he wanted the piece of guerrilla art to represent 'the strength and power of the American people' even in the face of scary economic downturn. In the end, he illegally set it up in the Financial District but, despite anger from the New York Stock Exchange, who saw the piece as an affront to their line of work, the city later agreed to temporarily install it, and it's been on loan from Di Modica ever since.

So far, so good.

So, What About The Fearless Girl?

On the day before International Women's Day this year, the 'Fearless Girl' was set up to stand right in front of the bull, with a bronze plaque (now removed) that read: 'Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.'

We all assumed that the 'SHE' making the difference was a collective term for women all over the world, or at least all the women in New York. So we proudly got behind the piece of art, as a feminist symbol.

But actually, that wasn't the case.

Unlike Di Modica's work, this statue was reportedly commissioned by an investment fund called State Street Global Advisors, and was set up as part of an advertising campaign developed by global advertising corporation, McCann.

'Who cares, it's still a feminist symbol, right?' you ask.

Well, to be honest, not exactly.

According to Farris, the statue was commissioned for the first anniversary of State Street Global's 'Gender Diversity Index' fund, which has the Nasdaq stock exchange symbol 'SHE'.

'It's not a work of guerrilla art; it's an extremely clever advertising scheme. This is what makes it clever: Fearless Girl derives its power almost entirely from Di Modica's statue,' explains Farris.

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In defense of her artwork, the statue's sculptor said of the statue: 'She's not angry at the bull — she's confident, she knows what she's capable of, and she's wanting the bull to take note.'

However, Farris argues: 'If it were placed anywhere else, Fearless Girl would still be a very fine statue — but without facing Charging Bull the Fearless Girl has nothing to be fearless to. Or about. Whatever. 'Fearless Girl', without Di Modica's bull, without the context provided by the bull, becomes Really Confident Girl.'

Fearless Girl derives its power almost entirely from Di Modica's statue

'Fearless Girl also changes the meaning of Charging Bull. Instead of being a symbol of 'the strength and power of the American people' as Di Modica intended, it's now seen as an aggressive threat to women and girls — a symbol of patriarchal oppression,' he added.

'A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art,' he notes.

Look, no one is denying the 'Fearless Girl' is - on face value - inspiring to women and men across the world as a symbol of gender equality, the future of business and the opportunities that lie ahead for women.

However, let's not forget she is also a marketing tool, created for the purpose of advertising and commercial gain, not actually in the name of feminism at all.

And isn't the whole 'SHE' thing a little bit sneaky?

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