Friday, March 17, 2017

Fearless Girl

I am only at work about two days a week now.  Two people, a part-time psychiatrist about my age and a psychiatric nurse in her thirties, both mentioned Fearless Girl - one to comment on the obscene response by a young Wall Street Trader (and a short rant mind-reading why he did it) and another to be pleased that someone was finally making the general public aware of the discrimination against women.

This seems to be evidence against them, that they can be so easily moved by simplistic art in the old socialist style. I get it that art is powerful, and that's its job.  But must we put up NO defense against attempts to manipulate us?


Sam L. said...

I have no idea what this is about. None. Zip, zero, zilch; nada. I cannot connect the picture with the text, or anything else.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

New statue on Wall Street.

William Newman said...

Perhaps there was more to the conversations than comes through in your summary, but as you summarize them, it seems to me that what's dysfunctional is not that iconic images can have a powerful appeal, but that your coworkers think that this particular image should have a powerful appeal. And I really don't think the image is anywhere near powerful enough to cause it --- the problem is probably that they've dived so deeply into blinkered uncritical self-righteousness that even this dysfunctional imagery appeals to them.

You don't need to be a fan of all three causes to recognize that hammer and sickle imagery, crucifix and/or fisher-of-men imagery, and Gadsden flag imagery are pretty effective choices of rallying symbols. I don't think that's particularly dysfunctional --- at least one of the causes just might be at least a *little* bit dysfunctional perhaps, but the icons themselves are fairly powerful choices. I don't think the Fearless Girl thing is notably dysfunctional just because effective rallying symbols are shallow or because your coworkers allowed themselves to be swayed by a powerful image. It seems to me that the dysfunctional issue is their failure to see that their iconic imagery is too much of an embarrassing self-parody. Primarily it is an embarrassing self-parody of the descent of feminism into mindless gurl powah and increasingly ridiculous double standards. (Safely standing up to a huge irate animal just because reasons? Really? Whatever you may think about men's inadequacies and deluded wickedness, wouldn't you be surprised and disappointed to find men cheerleading for men as men at a ridiculous level like this? Do you really think it's a good idea to slither under a bar that your hated outgroup clears easily even on a bad day?) Secondarily because by facing off against a Wall Street bull (instead of a bear, e.g.) it seems to be affirming that feminism should be loyally in the vanguard in the diehard markets-are-oppression struggle, and after two centuries of triumph of markets (and failure, often nightmarish failure, of various fashionable alternatives) good faith excuses for that coalition are hard to find.

If someone made a similar composition of a Christian child magically safely standing up to an irate tiger or vampire squid --- not as a brave martyr-to-be, but as a cartoonish faith powah practitioner who was to be admired for knowing that righteous in-group beliefs are everything that one needs to meet the challenge of a dangerous situation --- I suspect your coworkers would be able to see that it was dysfunctional in the primary way I described above. (Or if some masculinist fanatics started a boys' school with pie in the sky claims about how superior their outcomes would be by embracing pure masculinity, and chose to put similar boy-vs.-bull win-by-testosterone-power-somehow statuary outside the main entrance.)

Conversely if someone had made a clever composition somehow superimposing Margaret Murdock's Olympic-silver-medal target shot pattern on a Wall Street bear, I still might or might not appreciate their cause. (E.g., if it was claimed as an icon of a cause which stubbornly claimed "equal work" while pointedly ignoring gross differences like hours spent at work, or if the cause was too tied to various populist temptaions to treat fundamental economic failure by forbidding unwelcome price changes.) But at least the icon itself wouldn't be as dysfunctional as this choice.

(Or perhaps Libby Riddles outrunning the bear on a dogsled? Or Margaret Thatcher in a Harrier doing an airstrike on it? Or Barbara McClintock sternly annihilating the entire species of bears with some kind of gene sweep cleverness?)

Grim said...

Heh. I didn't get the reference either, but now that you've spelled out what it is, I am amused. A tiny girl staring down a charging bull may be an evocative image of fearlessness, provided that the image is frozen in time (as statuary tends to be). A moving bull, well, that's a different story.

But perhaps city people don't know this. Just this week I observed a woman I know to be highly intelligent and well-educated respond with surprise to the idea that cattle are dangerous. She's never known a cow, certainly never worked cattle, but has this idea that they're sort of fuzzy and cute. Surely the nice bull wouldn't really hurt the fearless girl, would he?

Sam L. said...

Now I got it. It's ALL bull.

Donna B. said...

I like being a city girl. But, I remember when I wasn't. At no time was I a match for even the most docile milk cow. Or a protective chicken. Thank you William Newman for putting this into a perspective I can understand.

As for gurl powah, one of the most interesting classes I had in college was Women's History. It was long enough ago that it didn't represent women in a feminist way, but in women contributed to history in a different way than men could. There were, of course, nods to warrior women, but the bulk of the class was more about how women kept that whole hearth and home intact. That doesn't seem to be appreciated much these days.

Donna B. said...

Also, it was a class with an emphasis on original documents and original research. Perhaps I remember it so fondly because of the requirement that I interview my oldest female relatives. I learned so much from my Mom, my aunts, and grandmother. And became much closer to them.

Donna B. said...

Also, it was a class with an emphasis on original documents and original research. Perhaps I remember it so fondly because of the requirement that I interview my oldest female relatives. I learned so much from my Mom, my aunts, and grandmother. And became much closer to them.

Grim said...

That sounds like a worthy course. I remain convinced that, eventually, feminist historians will overturn the problems with contemporary feminism. They just can't do it yet, because they're so wedded to the Marxist interpretative model: everything has to be explained as a conflict between men and women, with the men being domineering and the women being victims.

Yet I've read so many articles by feminist historians that go, roughly, 'Such-and-so lived in ThisCentury, a time dominated by patriarchy. However, it turns out that she was able to live the life she wanted to live, frequently even aided by her male relatives and friends.' From medieval Parisian thieves to great ladies, this story has been told so many times that -- eventually -- it's going to occur to someone that perhaps this is the ordinary story, not the weird exception.

Donna B. said...

My Mom was the youngest of five children, her sister the oldest. (There were also two older stepbrothers.) My Mom was jealous of her older sister because she got to stay in the house and cook and clean while Mom had to tote a sack and pick cotton with her brothers. It was years before my Mom realized that her sister was working a lot harder and longer than she was.

A quote from my Mom: "I wanted out of that cotton field and I figured it was going to take a man to get me out." So, there is something to the feminist thinking that women are subject to the whims of men. Fortunately for her (but unfortunately for the world) WWII got her out of the cotton field and into working in a munitions factory.

Yet, she didn't want to work there much more than the cotton field. My Dad spent almost a year in an Army hospital and when he got out, he decided to decline disability (because they told him that if he got a job and earned any money he couldn't collect) and got a job driving a bus from the munitions factory. They met, sparks flew (both were temperamental and volatile).

My Mom's marriage was much different than her sister's. Ten years difference in age. BUT, I'd have never known about the details of either marriage if that college course hadn't made me ask both of them. And goodness, what if I hadn't asked my grandmother about her life? WWI and influenza. And learning what "public work" meant.

I'm also grateful that my oldest daughter had a similar sort of history/english class in high school. Early 90s -- she was given the choice of using original documents to research a property or to research her genealogy. Part of either assignment included interviewing elders.

She chose genealogy because she was lazy (but I love her for it) and figured her great-aunt and I had done most of the work for her. Yet, she got so involved in the stories her grandmother, great-aunt, and great-grandmother told her (and they told her more than they ever told me!) that the genealogy project has become an ongoing thing. Both my daughters encourage me to tell their children stories about the "good ole days" and it's surprising to me how much they like the stories.

So, yeah -- that was a very worthy course as was the course my daughter took. We have all come to appreciate the travels our families took. We've learned to appreciate even the ne'er do wells who drowned drunk in a ditch. There are a few heroes, but mostly those who merely survived and made possible the life I have today.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The latter posts seem to be describing a difference between women's history and women's studies, which may be more of a sociology.

There has been a shift in general over the second half of the 2oth C to describe more social history, in contrast to sticking to political, military, and technological history. I think it's a sensible addition to talk about what was eaten; what homes, churches, and towns were like; ways of dress and ways of death. Women's history is quite naturally at least half of that.

You will notice that David Hackett Fischer does this in Albion's Seed.

james said...

That was part of the Durants' series too.