In March, a bronze statue of a girl, positioned facing down Arturo Di Modica's Charging Bull, was installed on Wall Street.
It quickly became a rallying cry and, in the words of Representative Carolyn Maloney:
touched hearts across the world with its symbolism of the resiliency of women.
Maloney, alongside other lawmakers and thousands of members of the public, called for the statue to remain longer than the planned thirty days.
New York Mayor Bill de Blazio said in a written statement:
In her short time here, the Fearless Girl has fueled powerful conversations about women in leadership and inspired so many.
Now, she’ll be asserting herself and affirming her strength even after her temporary permit expires — a fitting path for a girl who refuses to quit.
The statue elicited a negative reaction from the sculptor of the Charging Bull statue, Arturo Di Modica, who wanted the artwork removed, saying it was a publicity firm by State Street, the global investment fund who commissioned the statue to mark international women's day.
He received a lot of criticism for this, as the statue was by this point seen as a symbol of female empowerment.
A blog post by Greg Fallis has been attracting some attention online for arguing the unpopular view that Di Modica has a point.
You should really read his post, but here's his explanation of the history of the Charging Bull:
Back in 1987 there was a global stock market crash. Doesn’t matter why (at least not for this discussion), but stock markets everywhere — everywhere — tanked. Arturo Di Modica, a Sicilian immigrant who became a naturalized citizen of the U.S., responded by creating Charging Bull — a bronze sculpture of a…well, a charging bull. It took him two years to make it. The thing weighs more than 7000 pounds, and cost Di Modica some US$350,000 of his own money. He said he wanted the bull to represent 'the strength and power of the American people'. He had it trucked into the Financial District and set it up, completely without permission. It’s maybe the only significant work of guerrilla capitalist art in existence.
People loved it. The assholes who ran the New York Stock Exchange, for some reason, didn’t. They called the police, and pretty soon the statue was removed and impounded. A fuss was raised, the city agreed to temporarily install it, and the public was pleased. It’s been almost thirty years, and Charging Bull is still owned by Di Modica, still on temporary loan to the city, still one of the most recognizable symbols of New York City.
Back to the present day.
At the release of the statue, State Street awarded a $50,000 grant to 'Girls Who Invest', a nonprofit organisation made in April 2015, which is dedicated to increasing the representation of women in the asset management industry.
The company, as of 31 December 2016, had assets under management of 2.47 trillion, and employs over 2,500 people. Only five of the 28 positions in their leadership are held by women. This puts it just slightly ahead of the average S&P 500 company.
The statue was installed on the anniversary of the company's "Gender Diversity Index" fund, which is traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol:
Here's what the plaque reads on the Fearless Girl statue:
Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.
It's an advertising scheme for their Gender Diversity Index fund, which seems to have worked, regardless of the staying power and positive PR of the statue:
Picture: Yahoo Finance
Essentially, the statue is one of the most prominent and positively publicised advertising campaigns in recent history. For a global Investment fund.
You can choose to see the Fearless Girl as a feminist symbol of empowerment. You can choose to see it as a monetisation of feminist sentiment.
You can choose to agree with Di Modica and say the girl should be moved, as its appropriated his sentiment. You can say Di Modica should move his bull if it's such a big deal, that his work was only advertising his own brand, anyway. You can say he should deal with it, that both works deserve their place.
But either way, it's worth knowing these details on the story of the Fearless Girl and the Charging Bull.