Well you already know I’m the biggest procrastinator who forgets I even have a blog 98% of the time. Anyway, I’m here to make the post I promised I would make three weeks ago.
Moving on from my declaration of lameness… There’s this statue. Of a bull. On Wall Street. Everybody knows it. But, this last year, they added a statue of a little girl, squared off, chin jutted in the air, staring down this symbol that has come to represent a lot of things.
The bull was originally titled the “Charging Bull.” Since then, it has been affectionately renamed by our society. The “Raging Bull” is what many know it as today. A little ruthless, perhaps. But then again, Wall Street.
The original sculptor was ticked about the girl. And I get it. They took his art and turned it into a political statement. But, in all fairness, that art was kind of a political statement in and of itself. Certainly, it is, as he says in interviews, a symbol of virility and resilience after stock market crashes. But what it has become is something entirely different. Something a little colder. Just about as cold as the metal artwork on that chilly New York afternoon.
One thing I have learned in my studies is that author/artist intent has very little authority. It is the message that society takes away that speaks the loudest.
The bull is a powerfully masculine symbol. With it’s very anatomically to-scale genitalia (literally search the hashtag people take pics with its massive…um…junk), flaring nostrils, furrowed brow. The tail is curved like a whip ready to strike, the body posed in a position of attack. It is the perfect picture of intimidation, and yes, resilience.
The funniest part of it? The artist, Di Modica, originally intended to leave it illegally. It had not been commissioned. It was, essentially, guerrilla art. A legal home was found for it eventually, however, and since then it has become a symbol unique to the go get ’em culture of the city that never sleeps.
And so we get to the Defiant Girl, who was placed with the intent of encouraging gender diversity, especially near the home of an industry primarily run by men.
Di Modica argues that the girl is a trick of advertising, and was not actually installed to symbolize anything at all. Remember what I said earlier about the artist’s intent? Yeah, I’m calling bull on that (pun intended).
Because as I stood there, I saw a lot of little girls around me. Patent leather shoes and ruffled lace dresses, tattered converse and threadbare hoodies. All of them standing by, waiting for their moment to stare proudly, bravely, defiantly down a sculpture that has come to represent the often (calm down, I didn’t say always) misogynistic culture of the business world.
Di Modica argues that his bull is a symbol for America. A symbol of prosperity and strength that has nothing to do with masculinity. But, then again, people rub the testicles for good luck, so I’m not entirely certain who I should believe.
All I know is, at the end of the day, it felt pretty good to stand beside that sculpture. It felt pretty good to look masculinity in the face and say I’m here. I’m fucking here. And I’m here to stay.
I hope they don’t remove that statue. Unless you’ve seen the look of wonder on a thousand little cherub faces, you will never understand the importance of a statue such as this. Di Modica, take a moment. Recognize that your art has become a pillar of something—but the defiant girl has as well. It’s the symbol of a shifting nation. A changing time. An acknowledgement of equality, diversity, and strength. Men and women can be strong together.
My boyfriend said to me, You need a picture with this statue. I scoffed. Brushed him off because I didn’t want to be that tourist in the I ❤ NY tee shirt. But he was right. Because I smiled as I stepped away. I felt strong. I brushed my fingers up against the firm, cold metal of her hair. I felt something that many of you cannot understand. I tasted chances. Opportunity. Promise. And there’s no better taste for little girls like me.
We are still growing as a nation. Let Wall Street be no different.