When Italian sculptor Arturo Di Modica responded to the 1987 stock market implosion by creating the now-iconic Charging Bull gracing New York’s financial district, he was paying tribute to the American people and the free market.
Charging Bull is a beautiful, emotive, fluid work of art, full of life and a celebration of the capitalist spirit. It’s become the symbol of the toughness and resilience of American economic freedom since it took its place at Bowling Green, and in the years since finding its current home, it’s become one of the most frequented tourist attractions in the Big Apple’s arsenal. Visitors flock to the 11-foot tall bronze behemoth, often rubbing his nose and horns for good luck — not to mention his rather monstrous testicles.
This is no steer — and because it so well represents prosperity, virility, masculinity, bravery and liberty, it naturally draws the admiration of real people. “It’s become one of the most visited, most photographed and perhaps most loved and recognized statues in the city of New York,” said Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks commissioner, in 2004. “I would say it’s right up there with the Statue of Liberty.”
Not bad for a piece of guerrilla art paid for by the artist himself and introduced without so much as a permit.
But last month, something changed — and Di Modica has been fuming ever since.
Last month, a Boston-based financial firm, State Street Global Advisors, installed a different piece of bronze art in front of Charging Bull, after asking and receiving a permit from the Bill de Blasio administration. The interloper, Fearless Girl, is a four-foot-two-inch bronze statue of a lightly-clothed waif designed by Kristen Visbal, which stares down the bull; at the statue’s feet is a plaque reading “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”
The significance of SHE? That’s the NASDAQ ticker symbol for SSgA’s Gender Diversity Index SHE fund, a niche product aimed at dopey leftists who demand to invest in politically correct corporations — Gender Diversity Index “invests in U.S. large-capitalization companies that rank among the highest in their sector in achieving gender diversity across senior leadership.”
So it’s an advertising ploy, you see. Di Modica’s statue says something true and timeless about the American people and the free world; this is nothing more than a publicity stunt.
And SSgA is playing up the stunt as crassly as they can. “What this girl represents is the present, but also the future,” the company’s chief marketing officer Stephen Tisdalle told the New York Times. “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.”
What Di Modica is so incensed about is the message Fearless Girl sends not about her commercial masters or the fad feminist politics it represents but about his work. He says the new addition recasts his bull as a threatening, negative presence, corrupting and profaning its symbolism and the principles and values it glorifies. And he’s asking that New York City get rid of Fearless Girl at least at her current perch.
He’s right, you know.
The people who ought to be most motivated to accede to Di Modica’s wishes are the very cultural Marxists who, taking cues from Chelsea Clinton and Jessica Chastain, have spent the past month fawning over the little girl. New York congresswoman Carolyn Maloney demanded Fearless Girl become a permanent fixture. “This statue has touched hearts across the world with its symbolism of the resiliency of women,” she said.
Think about the symbolism here, after all. Di Modica’s bull symbolizes a vigorous, unstoppable, spirited capitalism, full of motion and unpredictability and change. By installing Fearless Girl in its way, what do the propagandists at SSgA and McCann, its advertising agency which collaborated in bringing the new statue to Bowling Green, offer in response?
A small, frail little girl standing still.
Vigor? Not especially. Spirit? Some. Motion? Nope. Unpredictability and change? Absolutely not — if anything that little girl would stop the bull. Which is something the feminists and gender-diversity crowd, together with lots of other cultural Marxist cadres, have made careers out of attempting.
Visbal, the Fearless Girl artist, has precisely the take you’d expect. “The bull is beautiful, it’s a stunning piece of art,” she told the New York Post. “But the world changes and we are now running with this bull.” Visbal says her statue represents “Girl power.”
Gavin McInnes, the former Fox News contributor and Rebel Media podcast provocateur, wasn’t impressed. “This is what’s happened with the Left,” he chortled in a hilarious March podcast on the controversy. “They’ve gone so far full circle with their lunacy that I see their points, I see their art and I go, ‘Yeah. That is a great symbol of you guys.’”
As McInnes notes, feminists are the ones choosing to represent themselves not as the Statue of Liberty, or a Valkyrie, or even a lioness but a small child who’d easily have her throat torn out by the bull if it was the threatening figure that statue paints it as. This is of a piece with other feminist fantasy, which can easily be seen every time a Scarlett Johansson or Angelina Jolie beats the crap out of men twice or three times her size at the cinema or in the constant demands for women in the Marines or Special Forces or Navy SEALs.
Those are a denial of reality, which continually produces bad results — disappointed females failing the Special Forces tests, complaints about campus “rape culture” when college women mistakenly believe they can drink their male counterparts under the table and end up passed out at a frat house with dodgy and uncomfortable uncertainties the next morning leading to accusations and lives ruined, and even GoFundMe campaigns to pay for medical bills when diminutive feminists with hairy armpits try their hands at rioting only for it to go badly.
Most women have no interest in such escapism. Thank God for that. What’s unnerving is the increasing insistence by the magical-thinking mob that the bull has no horns. One can and should love the bull, while recognizing otherwise.
SSgA’s antics aside, nothing in this discussion excludes women from Wall Street. The question is why Wall Street should care about Girl Power, or tiny fearless princesses, or Gender Diversity index funds. Wall Street is about results, and the people — regardless of race, gender, or any other elements of “identity” — who can drive them. Women who can do that ought to be celebrated for their individual worth — and certainly not infantilized as children for some marketing gimmick.
Wall Street is about the Charging Bull. It isn’t about feminist posturing. That Fearless Girl lacks meaning without Di Modica’s statue tells you all you need to know about its true worth.