The True Enemy of the ‘Fearless Girl’

There’s a wonderful new piece of art in Fearless Girl statueNew York City. Facing off with the Charging Bull statue near Wall Street is the new Fearless Girl. You may have seen a picture of her floating around on the internet.

I got to see the girl in person a couple of weeks ago, when I was doing sight-seeing type things in the city with a friend. After hitting up the World Trade Center Memorial and finding as many people from Hamilton in the cemetery at Trinity Church as we could, we walked toward a crowd of people hanging out on a traffic island, buzzing around this little statue. My pictures are a little less clear than the stock photo, above, because this crowd was so large that there was no way to get a picture of the girl, alone. Instead, every young woman (and many adult women) was lining up to have her picture taken with the girl who was staring down the bull.

As popular as this new piece is, Norman Siegel, the artist behind the Charging Bull, came out and publicly said that he is not a fan of the new work.

“The placement of the statue of the young girl in opposition to ‘Charging Bull’ has undermined the integrity [of] and modified the ‘Charging Bull,’ ” Siegel said at a press conference Wednesday. “The ‘Charging Bull’ no longer carries a positive, optimistic message. Rather it has been transformed into a negative force and a threat.”

Durham Bulls Athletic Park Skyline

A menacing bull holding his head high!

My first reaction was surprise that the Charging Bull was supposed to be a positive, optimistic message. I’m used to bull imagery, from Durham, North Carolina, where we have another bull statue, bull billboards, and bull paraphernalia. They are all tall, proud bulls, with their heads held high, and when the local baseball team scores a home-run, smoke comes out of one of their noses. The idea of a bull charging towards something as a positive message feels backwards, unless you are behind the bull. I checked out the view behind Siegel’s bull, it’s nothing but tail and testicles. A rather uninspiring position to put yourself.

But that’s where we are supposed to be, right? Led into prosperity by the bull. It was constructed to say that the stock market would rise again, the bull would charge through the enemies of progress and we would all have better lives because our portfolios would improve. What’s good for Wall Street is good for us all, therefore an image symbolic of Wall Street’s success should make us all happy.

I’m too young to know how the stock market fluctuations affected people’s general attitude on a day-to-day basis when the bull was erected, but I worked for a very large, publicly-held corporation for ten years, and I have seen how this desire for charging toward positive results on Wall Street is something that we do need to think about.

Any American following the advice of financial professionals owns stock, most likely through their 401k or IRA. Therefore, the success of Wall Street does affect everybody, and therefore all companies owned by wall street have a responsibility to the public. Therefore, we have reached this place in America, where corporate profits are necessary for the good of the people. That bull is charging through whatever it needs, to keep our savings safe.

It’s charging through everything it needs, in order to get profits for the companies on Wall Street. It’s charging through health benefits for employees. It’s charging through vacation time. It’s charging through maternity leave. It’s charging through employee training. It’s charging through environmental protections. Everything that isn’t regulated by our government is going to be charged through by that bull, because overhead costs are the enemy of profits.

The Fearless Girl was erected to start a conversation about women in business. The reaction of Siegel should change that conversation. He may have never meant for his bull to be seen as the enemy of a young girl, but perhaps we should discuss how, even with the meaning of the art that he intended, that has become the case. Instead, he just wants the girl removed, because how dare we consider that Wall Street charging ahead, through whatever may be in the way, be considered a bad thing?

 

 

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