“Fearless Girl” Is A Troll
Artist Kristen Visbal’s figure was first placed on a traffic island near Wall Street on March 7, on the eve of International Women’s Day, to make a point: There’s a dearth of women on the boards of the largest U.S. corporations.
The 4-foot girl staring down the 11-foot bull with hands planted on her hips quickly became a tourist magnet, drawing global attention on social media while awakening the imaginations of live visitors who posed for pictures. In response to petitions with tens of thousands of signatures for the statue to stay longer, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city permit was extended for nearly one year.
Will NYC Invite the ‘Fearless Girl’ to Stay on Wall Street? (You mean all guests should stay forever? — ed.)
Di Modica calls the statue an “advertising trick” created by two corporate giants — State Street Global Advisors, the Boston-based investment giant, and McCann, its New York advertising firm.
Di Modica is right, of course, and he’s right to complain. Fearless Girl makes little sense next to his bull. First of, the bull symbolizes good market, so why would anyone would want to challenge it, right?
Second, The Bull’s opponent is The Bear, not any kind of matchstick-limb humanoid. Are the viewers supposed to take pity on a girl about to be ran over by a beast? That doesn’t make for a good feminist message. She is hardly a David to the Bull’s Goliath. She doesn’t have David’s serene beauty, quiet concentration. There is nothing divine about her.
The plain-faced little lady stands there with her chest to the sky, challenging the beast. She’s either foolish or she expects a mean big parent (or parent substitute, like the government!) to take care of the bull. People who admire The Girl will tell you that this is all “for our daughters”.
Finally, there is a sport where men face bulls, it’s called corrida, a sport in which few women participate; it’s performed in Spain for tourists’ pleasure. The bull is nearly bled to death by the time he gets a chance to face a matador. Torture and murder for cheap entertainment, basically.
What normal parent, looking at the sculptural ensemble, would not want to take the place of subalternos, the matador’s aids, whose role is fatally maim the bull for The Girl? The Bull, once again, represents dynamism and prosperity. Capitalism liberated women from some of the most mundane domestic labor and enabled us to participate in public life.
The Girl doesn’t work with The Bull, she only works against it. She is human, and he is an animal; she is literal, he is an allegory, she is pitiful, he is vigorous. She works on our parental instinct, he is an abstraction.
She obliterates the original intent… but we are not more enlightened for it.
The Girl is a troll; she didn’t appear on the streets of New York to add to a conversation; she appeared to change the topic and end the original. Her place might be somewhere in New York, just not next to the bull.