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.

February 15, 2011

2010 Medal of Freedom Recipients and the Arts

Filed under: General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 7:48 pm
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For roughly the last hour, I have been watching the coverage of the Medal of Freedom ceremony. It honored many different individuals that have made great contributions to our nation and our world. I did find one point interesting; the number of artists being honored.

Artist recipients included Yo Yo Ma, Jasper Johns, Maya Angelou and Jean Kennedy Smith, founder of VSA, an organization that provides educators, parents, and artists with resources and the tools to support arts programming in schools and communities with a focus on disabled individuals.

What great contributions to the arts from these people.

Now, those of you who read my blog regularly know where I am going with this. Without the arts in our schools, would Yo Yo Ma be the musician he is today? Would Maya Angelou have found her voice? Would Jasper Johns be such an inspiration to so many artists? I wonder.

Again, the arts and music play an important part in a child’s development. When these programs are eliminated in the schools it not only robs the students of an opportunity to explore their artistic abilities, it potentially robs us all of the future of an artist.

I hope this gives many pause that feel the arts and music in schools is nothing more than “fluff.”

February 1, 2011

The Arts & Music Should Still Matter in Our Schools!

Filed under: Education,Finances,General Annoyances,New Jersey — alvb1227 @ 12:43 pm
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As all my readers know, I am a great proponent of the arts in our public schools. I have said repeatedly I am the person I am directly because of my involvement in my school’s music program growing up. I even married a band director!

Well, yesterday I read an article on NJ.com about a string teacher that was laid off in Paterson, but he still comes to the town on his own time on Saturdays to continue to teach his kids at a local church…for free. He uses his unemployment check to buy instruments and he makes his own instrument repairs. This makes me proud, sad and angry all at once.

First, I am so proud of this teacher. He personifies all that is right about New Jersey education. A large majority of teachers in New Jersey (as well as around the nation) take their role very seriously. They look at their position in the community as a true calling and understand the responsibility of shaping a child’s future.

I am sad that such a good teacher lost his job. You can just tell what he does is so important to him. He gave up a lucrative career playing music around the world to teach in a district with at-risk youth. He should be applauded instead of laid off.

I am angry that, as usual, the arts and music are considered fluff in schools today and are often the first thing to be eliminated from a district. There has been study after study that the arts and music have a direct impact on how well a child does in school. If we are trying to make such a huge push on math and science, you would think that schools would everything in their power to have their students succeed. Those tools to succeed should include programs in the arts and music. But no, it is much more important to do standardized test after standardized test. Yeah, that really makes a difference.

While it is a movie, if you have ever seen “Mr. Holand’s Opus,” this actually has some very true moments. While I love this movie, it makes me angry because hits a little too close to home. There are two quotes from this movie that really ring true to me:

“Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about.”

“The day they cut the football budget in this state, that will be the end of Western Civilization as we know it!”

Today in our society, we are too quick to cut the arts and music over sports. We value professional sports players who are often terrible role models for our children. Just look at Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Kobe Bryant, Dante Stallworth…I could go on and on. The real role models are our teachers, police officers, fire fighters and members of the military. But they are just considered “ordinary,” so they really don’t count. Teachers are mocked more than revered. And while our New Jersey Governor claims to not be in the business of bashing teachers, his constant assault on the teacher’s union has trickled down to an even lower opinion of teachers by the public than before.

I was never a “sports kid.” I was a “music kid.” I understand sports have an important place in today’s schools, however, music and the arts should not be immediately cut as a cost saver. All too often sports are one of the school’s “sacred cows.”

So, I say shame on your Paterson school district and all the other schools around the nation that are so quick to cut the arts and music without fully understanding all that music and the arts do for their kids.

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