Last year, public opinion was split over a symbol of feminism that turned out to be a symbol of corporate power. Of course I am referring to Hillary Clinton. But the Democratic candidate for president found a robust analog in Fearless Girl, a statue of a five year-old defying Wall Street’s iconic charging bull. That statue was nice, right? It encouraged young women to be strong, and perhaps it inspired adult women working in the financial district to carry a little of that defiance into their traditionally male-dominated workplaces. It seemed like art was finally improving people’s lives, but then we found out that it was a marketing stunt by State Street Global Advisors. Here’s State Street Executive VP Lynn Blake:
“We placed the Fearless Girl there to be a partner to the bull, to represent the power of women. We certainly never expected her to be a challenge…It was not really about the social or political issue, it was absolutely about the investment issue and the benefits of having women in the corporate world.”
Ah yes—the power of women not to challenge the corporate world, but to partner with it. Along with their expressed opinion that “the image of the girl would be more relatable than one of an adult woman,” comments like these suggest that State Street’s commitment to feminism might be problematic. Even if you regard Fearless Girl as a net good, its complications leave a bad taste in the mouth. But one mouth remains as ready to partner with the bull as ever: the California Democratic Party’s. On Friday, CADEM unveiled its own variation of Fearless Girl called She Persisted, which now stands atop its San Francisco headquarters.