New York City’s Department of Transportation announced recently that The Fearless Girl, a bronze statue by Kristen Visbal that was installed facing Arturo Di Modica’s iconic Charging Bull sculpture on Wall Street, will remain on view through February 2018. Initially installed on March 8th to mark International Women’s Day, the statue, which was set to be removed on April 2, was at first heralded as a guerrilla gesture symbolizing the power, strength and resilience of women.
As more details about the statue were revealed, however, some opinions began to shift: it was revealed that Fearless Girl was installed by Boston-based financial firm State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) as part of the firm’s publicity campaign urging other companies to employ more women in leadership roles. The contradictory nature of this message was emphasized by the fact that only 18% of SSGA’s leadership team members are women. Meanwhile, the leadership team of McCann New York, the advertising firm who developed SSGA’s campaign, is only 27% women.
On Hyperallergic, Jillian Steinhauer called the piece “fake corporate feminism” and said that it “represents basically everything that’s wrong with our society.” And in the New York Times, Ginia Bellafante wrote “But really, how inspiring is a symbol of financial-world gender inequity to a cashier at CVS?”
Even though it has its critics, the statue is popular. A quick Instagram search shows that it is still a hotspot for selfies, and a petition calling for the permanent display of the work has nearly reached its goal.