Enemies of the Fearless Girl: Be Afraid

There is a famous bronze sculpture on lower Manhattan: the enraged Wall Street bull. And as of March 7, there is another statue facing down that fearsome creature: the Fearless Girl.

According to The Boston Globe, the new statue by sculptor Kristen Visbal was installed by a branch of the Boston-based State Street Corp. (State Street Advisors) “as a call for more women to serve on corporate boards.”

The first time I saw a photograph of this face-off, it gave me shivers. In a good way. I didn’t just want to cheer for that little girl. I wanted to be that little girl. 

I was a real tomboy in my youth, and I never got over the sense of power I got from beating the boys at footraces and volleyball and king-of-the-mountain, a test of determination and guts in which we ten-year-olds would scramble to the tops of the massive piles of snow on the school’s winter playgrounds and fight with our own team to keep everyone else from gaining that high ground. 

I’ve never been very good at keeping my place as a girl. I smile when I want to, not when I’m expected to. I’m the one who shovels the driveway of snow, and I love it. In my long career at a major financial institution, I gained the reputation of speaking truth to power—not just whether they wanted to hear it, but especially if they didn’t want to hear it. 

So that little girl fearlessly facing a raging bull gave me shivers in a very good way.

But, it seems, even in the form of powerful bronze, women are fair game.

The most predictable attack came from a scum-of-the-earth individual whose asinine friends cheered him on as he pretended to rape the girl. I only wish he had tried for real; just think what that particular little girl’s body would have done to his vulnerable male member. 

But as despicable as this act was, as exemplary as it was of the worst part of male chauvinism and dominance, it wasn’t as surprising to me as the other attack. The one that came from a woman.

In her March 14 Guardian article, it appears that Cara Marsh Sheffler is so hung up on the fact that Fearless Girl is on Wall Street—and was commissioned by a bank—that Sheffler’s own bronze core got all bent out of shape over what she sees as the “false reality” of “having it all.” It bothers Sheffler that Fearless Girl is leaning in. It bothers her that Fearless Girl was bought and paid for by what Sheffler sees as corporate greed. 

Sheffler isn’t wrong to see these things and to call them out for what they are. She’s not wrong to believe that true feminism is so, so much more than just playing the boys’ games their way. 

But it seems to me that Sheffler’s approach is all male. She’s attacking Fearless Girl and essentially blaming anyone who likes the image for betraying true feminism. She might as well be humping that girl, herself.

Fearless Girl isn’t afraid of the bull. IT’S THE BULL, Cara Sheffler, that you should be paying attention to. That’s “bull” in every sense of the word. It isn’t just the boys of Wall Street Fearless Girl isn’t afraid of. It’s Wall Street itself. This little girl isn’t wearing a pinstripe suit. She isn’t carrying a briefcase. She isn’t even wearing eyeglasses. And she isn’t smiling. 

In my not-so-humble opinion, Sheffler completely missed the point. Let the bull rage on. Let him paw the ground and snort steam from his flaring nostrils. Let him even pretend that by raping women, he’s forcing them to stay in the place he thinks they should occupy. 

That bull has not only met his match. He has met his downfall.

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