Monuments and Memorials

Fearless Girl—a Hypocrite as well as a Shil! State Street Advisors Settles $5 Million Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Fearless Girl Stares Down the Wall Street Bull

Remember “Fearless Girl”? On February 28 of this year, the eve of International Women’s Day, a bronze statue of a defiant little girl suddenly appeared facing down the iconic Wall Street Bull.

She was commissioned by the firm, State Street Global Advisors in order, according the firm, to highlight the need to increase feminine representation on the boards of Wall Street firms.

Also, not incidentally, it was intended to celebrate State Street’s Global Advisors’ Gender Diversity Index SHE fund, meant to appeal to investors wanting to invest in politically correct corporations. A plaque at the girl’s feet said as much.

Many loved the statue, reacting to it as a feminist symbol of the power of women to face down male domination on Wall Street and men in general. She was an instant celebrity! Tourists flocked to see her. Women brought their little girls to be photograped with her.

However, there were those who were not happy, and controversy ensued. The sculptor of the bull, Arturo Di Modica, was incensed by the Fearless Girl. He had wanted the Bull to be viewed as a representation of “the strength and power of the American people,” not as an oppressor of women. And others, including me, pointed out that Fearless Girl was totally dependent on the bull for her message: an artistic encroachment that we deemed out of bounds.

Others objected to the fact that she was advertising a commercial product on city property and had no permit to be there. When this became more widely understood, the plaque heralding the SHE fund was removed.

Twenty-eight thousand people signed an online petition to keep her. Finally Mayor de Blasio decided that she could stay—until March 1, 2018,the anniversary of International Women’s Day, rolled around.

Representing a minority feminist view, Gina Bellafante, a columnist of the New York Times, had criticized the statue as a cynical PR ploy, an example of “corporate feminism.”

Turns out she was right! At the time Fearless Girl made her appearance, State Street was under investigation by the Department of Labor for unfair labor practices. And now State Street has settled a $5 million gender discriminiation lawsuit

According to the Boston Globe:

 “In March, an office within the Department of Labor found that State Street had discriminated against women at the senior vice president, managing director, and vice president levels by paying them less than men in similar positions. The agency also claims the company paid black employees less than similarly positoned white employees.

The pay practices covered a two-year period and affected 305 female executives and 15 black vice presidents, the government said. They will receive a total of $4.5 million in back pay and nearly $508,000 in interest.”

So much for gender equity.

I hope that Fearless Girl’s lease will not be renewed when it expires in February.

Monuments and Memorials

Fearless Girl is a Shill!

Update April 25, 2017 Apparently the original plaque has been removed, replaced by a sign that does not mention SHE.

 

In my previous post about the Fearless Girl statue now facing down the iconic bull on Wall Street, I criticized the sentiment on the bronze plaque at her feet as “inelegant.” The plaque reads: “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”

Now, as your old English teacher will remind you, the pronoun “SHE,” being singular does not agree with the plural “women” to which it seems to refer, resulting in an “inelegant” grammatical structure. Frankly, I thought it strange that the folks at the ad agency responsible for FG couldn’t come up with a better sentence.

What I missed was that SHE is the NASDAQ ticker symbol for State Street Global Advisors’ Gender Diversity Index SHE fund, which is meant to appeal to investors wanting to invest in politically correct corporations. The fund invests in “U.S large capitalization companies that rank among the highest in their sector in achieving gender diversity across senior leadership.” So “SHE” does not refer to “women” but to the SHE fund.

In other words, Fearless Girl is promoting a commercial product—a product of Wall Street, no less— as she faces down the symbol of the power of Wall Street to make a thriving economy possible, including, one assumes, the success of State Street Global Advisors.

And she is promoting that product on City property.

Monuments and Memorials · New York City · Role of Women

Fearless Girl—She’s Got to Go!

Fearless Girl Faces Charging Bull in Manhattan’s Financial District

Fearless Girl gets to stay in the path of Charging Bull  at least until February of 2018.

State Street Global Advisors installed the bronze statue on the eve of International Women’s Day in order to highlight the need to increase feminine representation on the boards of Wall Street firms. An inelegantly expressed sentiment on the plaque at the girl’s feet states, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”

That should make the feminists happy, right? but not all are. Gina Bellafante, columnist of the New York Times criticized the statue as a cynical PR ploy, an example of “corporate feminism.”  However, after 28,000 people signed an online petition advocating for its permanent placement, Mayor De Blasio, acquiesced to popular opinion and decided to let her stay—for now.

But the fact that the statue represents a prepubescent child suggests correctly that it may take a long time to achieve gender parity on Wall Street boards, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she is around for much longer. No doubt State Street realized that many people would be offended by the representation of an adult female protester, who would certainly appear too aggressively militant. Everyone can sympathize with a brave child. But I can’t help wondering why she is thought to be “fearless.”  Ticked off, resentful and angry, surely, but fearless? Being ignored is different from being threatened.

Fearless_GirlFor awhile, moving Fearless Girl to another location was under consideration.  But of course removed from the path of the charging bull, she would lose her power as a messenger for equal rights. Taken out of context she just looks like a spoiled brat. One has the impression she would stamp her little foot if she could.

Arturo Di Modica, worked on the bull  for two years following the crash of 1987 and with the help of friends secretly installed the 7,100 pound statue in the early morning hours of December  19, 1989. Di Modica himself wants “Fearless Girl” out of there. He was recently quoted by the New York Post as saying that his statue is “a symbol for America. . .of prosperity and for strength.” He resents his statue being viewed as an oppressor. New York City does not own the statue. Actually Di Modica would be within his rights to remove the bull, though he has not threatened to do that.

I am in sympathy with the sculptor. Surely no one would consider the bull a symbol of the male managers of Wall Street who make the decisions about board appointments. Rather, Charging Bull is a positive statement about the energy and bullish optimism the stock market generates. It is a powerful tribute to capitalism.

Standing defiantly in its path, Fearless Girl is a rebuke that makes no sense whatsoever.  MK