The Hidden Symbolism of the Wall Street Bull and Girl

There was a recent outrage at a man named Arturo Di Modica who wants the Wall Street girl statue removed. People were angry with him for his desire to see the Fearless Girl removed from the financial capital of the world. He prefers the Charging Bull which has been a long-standing landmark. After all, he is the one who created the statue. With all anger thrown at him, accusations of hating women aside, he actually has a point: when he created that statue, it was intended to be subversive to Wall Street.

His work of guerrilla art was a donation he made worth $350,000. The statue was created during the global stock market crash of 1987. He placed it there illegally to represent “the strength and power of the American people”. It was created by an Italian immigrant to oppose what Wall Street stands for. A battle proceeded to keep the statue there which he eventually won. Over the decades it has been co-opted to mean a “bull market” for investors.

Contrast this with what the Fearless Girl stature is, a symbol of first world reactionary feminism. A piece, ‘[c]ommissioned not by an individual, but by an investment fund called State Street Global Advisors, which has assets in excess of US$2.4 trillion. That’s serious money. It was commissioned as part of an advertising campaign developed by McCann, a global advertising corporation. And it was commissioned to be presented on the first anniversary of State Street Global’s “Gender Diversity Index” fund, which has the following NASDAQ ticker symbol: SHE. And finally, along with Fearless Girl is a bronze plaque that reads: ‘Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.'”

“SHE” is referring to the NASDAQ symbol of the equity fund. It’s nothing more than an advertisement for a capitalist investment fund. What the owners of the statue have done is manage to place an advertisement in a high-traffic public space without having to pay a cent for it, by masquerading as feminism. The Fearless Girl couldn’t be anything further from subversive, or challenging power. Social justice advocates have been duped into advancing the very system that perpetuates inequality.

I think this standoff between the two statues is a perfect metaphor it describes the situation in first world leftist circles. On the one hand, we have a radical symbol that has been co-opted by Wall Street in order for it to have its opposite meaning. It went from subversive defiance to capitalism, to the totalitarian strength of financial capital. The first world working class went from an exploited mass who struggled to be free, to a complacent ally of imperialism. The tonnes of first world people who are lining up to support the imperialist wars against Syria, the DPRK, and others.

On the opposite side, we have the statue of the defiant girl. A statue created by an investment fund with the intent of pushing a very bourgeois conception of feminism. One that adamantly excludes the women of the third world who suffer under the privilege of the women of the first world. Women who demand more of the spoils of imperialism, not the redistribution of wealth as necessary to bring up all women in the world. It represents a disdain for the women victimised by a system that other women are defending.

It appears that when you dig deep into the meanings of the statues, we see it very differently than what we are presented with on the surface. A phoney corporate owned liberation symbol standing defiantly against a co-opted revolutionary symbol that has decayed into reaction. It symbolises, quite adequately, the revolutionary bankruptcy of first worldism.

Advertisements