I Have a Gripe

September 17, 2017

The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl

According to today’s definition of the word, I am not a feminist. I’ve regularly been told I’ve “sold out the sisterhood.

Do I believe women are strong and capable individuals and deserve to be treated and paid equally? Absolutely. Do I believe women should receive special treatment in an effort to “level the playing field?” Absolutely not. A perfect example of this absurdity is NYU Film School’s so-called gender equality. Selecting women over men in the name of equality is utterly ridiculous. The concept is basically saying “women aren’t good enough to compete on their own merits so we are going to tip the scales.”

Now do I believe the “boy’s club” exists? Definitely. I’ve experienced it first hand. Do you know what I did to combat it? I did my job to the best of my ability. I’ve worked in male-dominated fields my entire career. I proved my worth of doing my job. I’ve told stories of my work multiple times over the years so I don’t feel the need to repeat myself. You can read more about them here.

I will admit early in my career I avoided wearing my wedding band on interviews. I didn’t want to be looked upon as a “baby factory.” Did I need to do that? I really can’t say for sure. Would I recommend this to my nieces? No. I don’t think it is necessary.

So why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with two sculptures in New York City? Let me explain.

Earlier this year a new sculpture was installed (at the time temporarily) called the “Fearless Girl” on Wall Street in New York City. It was placed facing the iconic “Charging Bull” the day before International Women’s Day. Fearless Girl was commissioned by investment firm State Street Global Advisors to advertise an index fund which comprises gender-diverse companies that have a higher percentage of women among their senior leadership. It is an extremely well-executed sculpture by the artist. It quickly, however, turned into a point of contention and became a new rally cry for feminists everywhere.

My problem with it? It has completely changed the definition of the Charging Bull. What is the history of the Charging Bull you ask? Allow me to clarify.

ChargingBull

Arturo Di Modica and his Charging Bull (source: chargingbullcom)

Sculpture and Sicilian Arturo Di Modica developed the Charging Bull as a way to celebrate America, and specifically, New York. It celebrates the opportunities the nation offers to people of the world who are willing to come and work for success. It’s the symbol of courage Di Modica saw as the perfect antidote to the Wall Street crash of 1986. It is a celebration of the human spirit and determination of Americans.

 

Now the Fearless Girl is placed facing the Charging Bull. Instead of the celebration of the ability to survive whatever is thrown at Americans, it is now viewed as a little girl facing down the big bad men of Wall Street.

Shameful.

The sculptor has voiced his concern over the placement of Fearless Girl, saying it distorts and politicizes his art and has asked that it be removed. Will that happen? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

I agree with Di Modica. The Fearless Girl has changed the meaning of his art.

If it is decided that Fearless Girl is to remain on display indefinitely, I hope it will be moved elsewhere so the meaning of the Charging Bull is returned to its true inspiration. Unfortunately, I will be shocked it that happens.

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September 11, 2017

9/11 – 16 Years Later

Filed under: New York,Shanksville,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 10:10 pm
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So today is that sad day in American history – the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. This year the word “history” seems even more real to me.

For those of us who were adults, we remember exactly where we were that day. Just like our parents remembered where they were when JFK was killed and our grandparents remembered where they were during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

History.

Now, there is a new generation and for them it is exactly that – history. They don’t remember where they were. They don’t have that personal feeling adults had on that day.

I can tell you that I was just about at the office and the DJ on 104.3 cut in and said there was some kind of “fire or accident at the World Trade Center.” It was believed it was a small personal plane that had some kind of failure.

Within the next 10 minutes it took for me to park my car and get inside, it learned it was definitely something more.

I remember people crowding into my cubicle while my mother put the phone up to the television so we could listen to the news. The Internet couldn’t keep up with all the traffic and we couldn’t get a good connection.

I remember several of us frantically looking for flight information for two of our managers flying out of Newark.

I remember running upstairs to tell our division president our manager’s information and leaving to go to the mother of a best friend from high school because her father worked in the World Trade Center. Thankfully, he made it home safe.

I remember my husband calling me from school to find out what was being said on the news.

I remember crying. A lot.

I remember the smell of the smoke that wafted over from New York into New Jersey.

I remember my friends from our Chicago office calling me to check and make sure I was safe.

WaterfallJust like our parents and grandparents with the “day” of their generations, I can tell you every minute of that day.

Last winter I went to Ground Zero for the first time since it was fully opened to the public. The enormity was the space is simply overwhelming. I was brought to the space after “The Pile” became “The Hole” shortly after Pope John Paul II came to the location to pray by the parents of that same friend that left us sick with worry on that day. At that time it was literally that – a hole. A giant empty space. The only way I can describe the feeling I had was heavy and sad. Profoundly sad. But I felt honored to be given the opportunity to be there and say a prayer.

Now, the space is still sad, but it is a dignified reminder of the people who were killed, the people that survived, and the stories of triumph. Seeing it on the television simply doesn’t do it justice.

While I stood there in quiet thought and prayer, I watched the commuters who passed by in the usual New York speed-walking fashion and wondered how they felt passing that space every day. I thought again of a story I’ve told before. Several years after the first World Trade Center bombing, I went on an interview in one of the towers. The person I met with wanted me to make sure I understood that the job would be at that location. He explained that people were concerned about working in the Towers because of the attack. My answer? I told him I wasn’t worried. “Lightening doesn’t strike twice.”

Boy was I wrong.

I don’t remember the name of the man I met with or even the name of the company. I think about him each year and wonder if he was still working there and if he made it home that day.

For us, this is all history now. And we have a responsibility to share that history with the next generation.

It isn’t enough to say “never forget.” It is “I remember.”

 

September 3, 2017

Back to School Time

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 9:01 pm
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It’s the time of year parents wait for with breathless anticipation – back to school time.

While parents rush out to pick up school supplies and new clothes for their kids, teachers are doing something very similar – buying school supplies. Not for themselves, but for their classrooms.

No, I’m not kidding.

My husband was a teacher for 25 years. And each year we purchased more and more supplies for his classroom. Everything from pens and paper, to Clorox wipes and paper towels. And he wasn’t alone. According to a 2016 article in Time, most teachers spend $500 per year for classroom supplies and one in 10 spend over $1,000 per year.

Now any regular readers here know I have a very strong opinion about the hard work teachers do. They are expected to be teachers, parents, diplomats, nurses, psychologists, disciplinarians, and more. They often lend money when kids are sent with nothing for lunch and offer a caring ear to listen to children’s problems. Add to that they often put themselves in harm’s way when school shootings occur, teachers are literally laying down their lives for their “kids.”

And now almost all of them spend money on basic necessities for their classroom.

Most commonly needed supplies include:

  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Pencils/erasers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Printer paper
  • White board markers/erasers
  • Chalk
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Band aids/First aid kits
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Sticky Notes
  • Tape

So as you pick up final supplies for your kids, offer to bring in some tissues or pens for their classroom. Or better yet, surprise your teacher with some common supplies from the those listed above.

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