I wonder what the reaction would be if the statue were of a woman and not a girl. Fearless Girl was installed near Wall Street early in the morning, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, the day before International Woman’s Day. It is of a girl, staring down Charging Bull. Her hands are on her hips and her bitch wings are out. Charging Bull’s head is down and he paws the ground. The two are locked in a battle of wills. And it looks to me like Fearless Girl is winning.
I like the statue. I like the plaque on the ground that says, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” I even like that Fearless Girl is a commercial from State Street Global Advisors to highlight their work encouraging companies to put women in top leadership positions. SHE is their exchange traded fund which invests in companies that have high levels of women on their boards and in senior leadership. The statue is supposed to highlight women in leadership, so why is it a girl?
When I imagine the sculpture as a woman I immediately anticipate the comments: Her butt is too big. Her breasts are too small. Why isn’t she prettier? Her shoes wouldn’t just be shoes. They would be “Power pumps exerting the force of her femininity,” or “Mannish shoes for a man’s world.” Instead of defiant, her face would be called “resting bitch face.” Someone would suggest she smile more.
If Fearless Girl were Fearless Woman we might have some questions: Does she have a partner who is sharing the load of raising the kids? Does her company provide adequate childcare? What about family leave so she can care for her aging parents? Does her health plan include contraception and prenatal care? Does she make as much money as her male colleagues? Is she interrupted more often than they are? Are her ideas only taken seriously when a male coworker repeats them? Is she ever mistaken for the secretary?
I like Fearless Girl. I like the way she draws us into her story. She sparks our imagination and triggers our aspiration. I like the photos of girls standing beside Fearless Girl, imitating her defiant pose. They learn from her to be tough and confident. They learn the power of bitch wings. Watch out, world. Those fearless girls will grow up.