‘Fearless Girl’ is a lot of bull

By Karen Zautyk

The other day, I had an unexpected visit from my old friend the Jersey Devil, who stopped off on his way to New York City. I thought he might be on his way to catch a Yankees game (he prefers baseball to hockey), but he was actually on a different mission.

He was headed to Lower Manhattan to lend support to one of his buddies, the “Charging Bull” statue, which of late has been mocked and much maligned — simply because it is a bull. Talk about bigotry.

The bull, a magnificent bronze creation by artist Arturo Di Modica, has been a tourist attraction since it was installed at Bowling Green in 1989. Inspired by the U.S. recovery following the 1987 stock market crash, the majestic creature was reportedly designed to be a symbol of the “strength and power of the American people.”  (Interestingly, it took on added meaning of strength, power — and resiliency — after 9/11, when it wore a coat of ash from the Twin Towers.)

Since March, another statue, a silly little thing, has been facing off against the bull. The bronze likeness of a “Fearless Girl,”  hands on hips, is supposed to be some sort of icon of feminism. It was erected in honor of International Women’s Day, which was marked by mobs of women marching around in pink knit “pussy” hats.

“What’s a ‘pussy hat’?” the Devil asked, and when I explained, he actually blushed.

To change the subject, I got out my copy of Dianne Durante’s “Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide,” which describes the 7,100 pound, 11-foot-tall bull thusly: Its “head is lowered, its nostrils flare, and its wickedly long, sharp horns are ready to gore; it’s an angry, dangerous beast. The muscular body twists to one side, and the tail is curved like a lash: the bull is also energetic and in motion.”

Said the Devil:  “And this child is facing off against him? What kind of message does that really send to little kids? I think she should be called ‘Brainless Girl’.” 

The Devil was also concerned because PETA and other animal-rights organizations have not come to the bull’s defense.  “It seems to me that this confrontation is actually the symbolic prelude to combat,” he opined. “Aren’t these groups opposed to bullfighting?”

Last week, “Fearless Girl” supporters were furious when a third statue showed up. Artist Alex Gardega placed a small bronze dog at the girl’s feet, said dog directing a stream of urine at her left leg. Oh, the outrage!

According to the N.Y. Post,  Gardega believes that “Fearless Girl” is merely ” ‘corporate nonsense’ devised to promote the fund managers who commissioned it.” In any case, the dog was ordered removed posthaste. But “Fearless Girl” is supposed to remain until at least next March.

“Does this mean that, in our culture, only liberals are allowed to define ‘art’?” the Devil asked.

“You are very perceptive,”  said I. “Note, also, that Gardega was immediately labeled a ‘misogynist’.”

“I guess that makes you one, too,” he said, with his adorable sense of the absurd. I then bid him good travels to N.Y.C.  and asked him to give my regards and support to the bull. Poor bull.

[Editor’s note: For this visit, the Jersey Devil did not drive up from the Pine Barrens in his magnificent Lamborghini. Instead, he arrived in a rather sedate-looking, four-door BMW. What happened? “It’s a favor to you,” he said. “Every time you write about my sports car, you have to look up the name. I figured you’d have no trouble spelling BMW.”]

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