I’ll Stand my ground, Won’t be turned around, And I’ll keep this world from draggin me down…And I won’t back downTom Petty
It was a quiet morning as I walked the streets in the financial district in lower Manhattan. There weren’t many people up and about at eight as I walked towards a little girl with her hand on her hips looking up at the symbol of American capitalism. It was September 2020 and without tourists clogging up the streets it was easy to take the time to appreciate what I have come to see, Fearless Girl.
She is just 50 inches tall but she might as well be 40 feet tall with the power that she projects. She says as Tom Petty sang, that I won’t back down in her body language and location. She is named Fearless Girl, and outside a few others, she might be the most important work of art in all of New York City.
She is made of bronze and was made by Kristen Visbal. She went on display on March 7, 2017, right across from another icon, Charging Bull. For a year and a half, the duo started each other down, Charging bull as the face of money-hungry Wall Street against Fearless Girl, a symbol of women and their desire to be part of a system always wanting to keep them out. In November of 2018, she was moved to her current location, outside the New York Stock Exchange Building, after Charging Bull’s sculptor complained loudly enough.
Just as the world was about to celebrate International Women’s Day, the statue made its debut, but originally it was supposed to only be on display for a week. It had been given a permit by the city of New York for only 7 days. However, very quickly that was changed to 30 days as news and reaction started to blow up. As crowds flocked to Its location at Bowling Green, a small park at the end of Broadway in lower Manhattan, this was changed to about a year. All over the news, for and against the statue dotted all over social media. Some saw it as a powerful beacon to young and old women that they shouldn’t be afraid to dream big. Others saw it as a crass stunt that used women to further promote an investment firm. Yes, this statue was paid for by a wall street firm.
In November of 2018, Fearless Girl was moved to its current location, which is where I got to see her. It is a powerful landmark that left me both with mixed feelings on its meaning and why it’s important. I liked the idea of the juxtaposition with Charging Bull, It was standing up to what many see as Wall Streets’ reckless behavior. It was a strong message but I like it even more where it is at now. The reason for this is because how I see Charging Bull, which isn’t a symbol of Wall Street as much as a symbol of better days and better markets, something that should in theory be good for us all. By standing outside the stock market, she is proudly standing up against those who play with our futures and many times ruined the lives of others just in the search for another dollar.
But I also have mixed feelings on why we have it to start with, an investment firm. She was paid for by a firm that said that Fearless Girl was to promote female empowerment, which is a great cause and something we should all get behind. But that same firm had to pay 5 million in 2017 to settle a lawsuit over violated equal pay rights of its female employees.
I think that this is one of those works of art that everyone, not only women, should see. It’s powerful and bold and yet soft in its features. Visbal commented that “I made sure to keep her features soft; she’s not defiant, she’s brave, proud, and strong, not belligerent”. It is a must-see on any New York City trip and I hope it will be around for many many years to come.
All pictures taken by me. If you enjoy this please like and follow to read more.