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Why ‘Pissing Dog’ Statue Beside ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Is Misogynistic

Artist says he installed statue of urinating pug to defend “integrity” of Wall Street “Charging Bull” sculpture

Fearless girl, dog pissing statue, Wall Street statue,

Kristen Visbal's Fearless Girl statue

Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/Zuma

Monday night, yet one more statue went up in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, kickstarting a debate that seemed to have quieted down.

Fearless Girl vs. Charging Bull is now Fearless Girl vs. Charging Bull vs. the Pissing Dog. Sculptor and New York City resident Alex Gardega erected the third statue that has been called both “Sketchy Dog” and “Pissing Pup” as an expression of his objections to Kristen Visbal’s Fearless Girl statue, which in turn was erected earlier this year as a reaction to the Wall Street Bull statue that was installed in the heart of America’s economic center nearly 30 years ago.

Bizarrely, Gardega’s problems with Fearless Girl are that he sees it both as “corporate nonsense,” and also that it “disrespects” the original bull statue. The New York Post quotes Gardega complaining, “that bull had integrity,” that he believes must be defended.

Since its installation the day before International Women’s Day, Fearless Girl has inspired mixed reactions. Some see it as a positive step in promoting gender equality, while others see it as an infantilizing symbol of corporate feminism, believing the only ethos it actually promotes is capitalism. The latter feeling was fueled by the fact that Fearless Girl was erected by State Street Global Advisors, an investment firm based in Boston, in order to promote its Gender Diversity Index fund, which invests in companies that seek to achieve “gender diversity among senior leadership.” 

While the statue of the little girl may appear to confront the bull, she and the bull are in fact on the same side, both ardent supporters of the same system to which the whole neighborhood around them acts as a sort of secular temple. Fearless Girl’s supposed feminism is one in which the only goals are for women to make more money and buy more stuff. Putting more women in more executive jobs addresses none of the numerous systemic inequalities under which women suffer. It merely elevates a few women into positions in which they have access to the tools of the oppressor, allowing them to exercise their tenuous freedom by denying it to others. State Street’s Gender Diversity Index is, like everything else in the world of finance, committed to the advancement of people who would have advanced anyway, and to the calcification of an oppressive system responsible for much of the violence and inequality that women across demographics suffer.

But none of these issues negate the problem with the little dog statue that’s supposed to look like it’s urinating on Fearless Girl. It’s misogynistic. That’s undeniable.

By calling the Fearless Girl statue “corporate,” Gardega is trying to situate himself within these same criticisms, and therefore absolve himself of the obvious misogyny of his work. But his defense of the Charging Bull gives away his real motives. Pissing on capitalism, literally or figuratively, is itself a great and noble tradition in art. Gardega is attempting to be part of that tradition. But if that were the case, he would need to have sculpted a second dog to also piss on the bull whose honor he is so eager to defend. It’s no surprise to viewers – and I imagine no surprise to Gardega – that the same people who attack women online for being ‘easily triggered snowflakes’ have come out in roaring support of Gardega’s overreaction. In the New York Post, he self-describes as “not anti-feminist,” staying within a plausibly deniable double-negative. He wants everyone to know that his statue has “nothing to do with feminism.” The dog isn’t pissing on a little girl, it’s pissing on capitalism.

Except it is still urinating on a little girl. Fearless Girl might be an infantilizing symbol of a lot of bad and oppressive things, but it’s also still literally an image of a little girl, and the dog is still literally an image of a pissing dog.

There is still a meaningful distinction between actual criticism and name calling, between pointing out the lie of corporate feminism, and telling girls they deserve to be pissed on by dogs. While corporate feminism absolutely should be intensely criticized, it’s nevertheless sickening to see the glee that a certain kind of man takes in attacking it, finally given an excuse to state out loud and be praised for the misogynist feelings that he’s had all along. The tells here are as blatant as they are in online debates, and the main one is Gardega’s impassioned defense of the honor of the Charging Bull.

Ironically, the Charging Bull statue was indeed also a work of guerrilla art, and also installed without permission of authorities. It landed outside the New York Stock Exchange on December 15th of 1989, described by the artist, Arturo di Modica, as a symbol of “the strength and power of the American people.” The “people” di Modica actually meant was the stock market; the artist had begun work on the statue in 1987 as a reaction to the market crash in that year, hoping to “encourage everybody to realize America’s power.” The Charging Bull resides within a nationalist, capitalist, corporate rhetoric that is anything but anti-capitalist. This is the statue, and the philosophy, that Gardega wants to defend. His reasons for objecting to the Fearless Girl are not a protest against capitalism. He may be correct that the Fearless Girl has “nothing to do with feminism,” but his own statue certainly does.

In This Article: Art, wall street

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