First Female Statue Near Parliament Looks Like She's 'Putting The Washing On The Line'

Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing has designed the first ever female statue to appear in Parliament Square but not everyone is impressed.

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Earlier this month, Jane Austen became the only woman (apart from Queen Elizabeth, of course) to now feature on an English bank note following the withdrawal of the old £5 note in May.

And while we're yet to get our mitts on the the shiny new £10 featuring, we can now rejoice in the fact that it's just been announced Parliament Square in London is getting its first statue of a woman.

Hurrah for female representation, right?

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Well, not exactly.

The statue will reportedly be designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing and will show suffragist Dame Millicent Fawcett holding a placard which reads 'Courage calls to courage everywhere'.

The phrase is based on the speech she gave after the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davidson, who was killed by a horse at the Epsom Derby.

However, designs for the new statue have caused concerns among councillors who approved the plan. Since viewing the depiction of Fawcett, they've pointed out the casting looks as if she's holding clothes up to a washing line, and not a placard.

Former MP Sir Neil Thorne told The Telegraph: 'The maquette that they produced showed Millicent Fawcett standing stationary but holding in front of her a placard which said something on the front of it.

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'She was holding it out and when you looked at it sideways it looked as though she was putting the washing on the line.

'They were saying that they didn't think it was appropriate at all,' he admits.

To be fair, we can kind of see what they mean. A woman holding clothes at a washing line isn't exactly the most feminist activity we want to see aligned to a suffragette.

As a result, a spokesman for Westminster City Council said the design would be 'amended' to deal with complaints of the seemingly un-feminist task.

Caroline Criado-Perez - a feminist activist who campaigned for the statue and successfully fought for Austen to feature on bank notes - said: 'The historical reality is that those were the placards that were used and that was the slogan that was used. So I don't think there are going to be massive changes made to it.'

She said the washing line remark had been a 'throwaway comment'.

The Independent reports the bronze casting of suffragist Dame Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled 100 years after the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which was introduced thanks to the bravery and persistence of the women's suffrage movement.

Fawcett's statute will join 11 men including Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

Following the news, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the statue was 'long overdue' and will depict the 'strength' and 'determination' of the suffragettes.

Well, we for one can't wait to see Fawcett stand proudly near Parliament.

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