Patriarchy in a (Bully) Nutshell
*cracks knuckles* Hold my purse. I'm going in. Have you heard the one about the male sculptor of "Charging Bull" and how he's complaining that a sculpture named "Fearless Girl" is VIOLATING. HIS. RIGHTS?
Oh yeah. You heard me.
I'm going to try to take this slow, nice and easy, so I don't break any noses.
Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor of "Charging Bull," an iconic sculpture on Wall Street of, yes, a charging bull, is complaining that a sculpture of a little girl, aptly named "Fearless Girl" is violating his rights. "Fearless Girl" was placed in front of Charging Bull on a temporary basis to celebrate Women's History Month but when New York City extended its (her) permits, Di Modica had had enough of sharing his space. He hired lawyers who are going to literally fight City Hall over the image of a little girl.
For a man who is so into symbolism, maybe Mr. Di Modica could realize that what he's doing is a perfect living analogy for bullsh!t patriarchy.
Women have heard this kind of crap before: "She's a lovely girl, but this space isn't right for her."
Maybe she'd be more comfortable in the garment district. Girls love fashion, amirite?
Or we've heard: "If she's here, she's violating my rights."
What rights, exactly, is Fearless Girl taking away from Charging Bull (this is starting to sound like the Dances With Wolves screenplay. Forgive me.) Or from Mr. Di Modica?
Let's talk about the rights of art.
God, that sounds pretentious.
There are no art rights.
In this country, art isn't a person or a corporation or a river . If you get to put art into the world count yourself damn lucky. If you get paid for it? You're the king. Go home. You've won. And if you're Mr. Di Modica? Who has a team of lawyers and copyrights and permits? You've got 100,000% more rights than 99.999999% of the earth's artists.
Now some of you are asking, but Lindsay, what about his copyright?
Sure, he has copyright. Good for him. I don't know what his legal protections are for that damn statue but here's what I know, in life and in art, that putting a girl next to him doesn't invalidate any of it.
And let's talk about his permits.
In 1987, Di Modica illegally installed Charging Bull on city property without proper permits. It was then impounded by the city before being replaced in a new location.
But now. Thirty years later. A dude comes back and says a legally installed work of art is making his look bad. Wah. Freaking. Wah.
You know what, art changes. Go to a museum. You're looking at art that was viewed one way centuries ago and now we're like, wow. That celebration of an African slave market doesn't look so great.
But it's a great piece by a great master so a curator doesn't take it down but puts that piece with another to put it in context. It helps us understand where we are as a culture. It doesn't change the original art.
You know what doesn't change? Male Privilege.
That's right, I'm going there.
The privilege that allowed a man to illegally drop a 7,000 pound chunk of metal into the middle of Manhattan and get rewarded for it. The privilege that sunk into his brain and gives him the audacity to hire lawyers to file FOIA requests to determine whether Fearless Girl was properly permitted. The privilege that led him to believe that no one should ever question his creation, his meaning, his freaking symbolism.
That right there? That's bullshit.
It's bullshit that all women recognize for exactly what it is. Patriarchy.
Good for New York Mayor De Blasio for standing up (so far) to Di Modica's demands. Good for the tourists, the New Yorkers, and the Wall Street firms who support Fearless Girl and what she stands for.
None of it feels like a victory, though. Not yet. Not until the bullies stop trying to beat down little girls who just want to take up some of their space.