“A painful waste”: the controversy over a sculpture that pays tribute to the ‘mother of feminism’ | Global World Blog

In the image, an activist wears the sculpture in a T-shirt in protest. In the video, the sculpture in its environment, a park in London. EPV/REUTERS

In times of coronavirus, a mask serves both to protect against contagion and to cover part of a sculpture that does not like. For this second purpose, it is also worth using T-shirts or black tape. This is what several activists who criticize a new sculpture, inaugurated on the 10th in London, have used to pay tribute to the 18th century writer and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights.

The sculpture, in silver bronze, is made up of two parts: on a large irregular shape that serves as a plinth stands a much smaller figure representing a naked woman. And there seems to lie the controversy against the work of the British artist Maggi Hambling, which has cost 143,300 pounds (about 159,600 euros), according to CNN. Criticizing feminists point out that it focuses on the female body rather than honoring the intellectual achievements and influence of the enlightened sage.

Activists also argue that men’s monuments are usually depicted dressed in clothing. And to that Hambling responds that it is precisely this masculine tradition of “heroic statuary” from which she has wanted to depart to create something eternal, not historical. The work “culminates a tower of blurred feminine forms with a figure of a woman who is challenging, who is ready to challenge the world”, the author pointed out in a video of the campaign in which the initiative is framed, Mary on the Green, the name of the idea, that on its website has indicated that the sculpture represents “all women” and that it “emerges in an organic way, almost as if it were a birth”.

From the criticisms, some have gone to the facts: the sculpture’s nude, the meat of television news from day one, took a few hours to be hidden. On Tuesday night several strangers covered her with two masks, arranged as if it were a cape on the woman’s shoulders, and with a piece of black adhesive tape covering the sex.

Already on Wednesday it returned to its original state, but two women covered it again, this time with a black T-shirt, and placed a plaque at the bottom with the text “Strengthen the female mind, enlarge it, and blind obedience will end.” It’s a quote from A vindication of the rights of women, one of the peaks of Wollstonecraft thought published in 1792. Shortly after, another woman undressed the sculpture again, using a stick.

Among the sticks with a first and last name is that of the feminist writer Caroline Criado Pérez, promoter of a sculpture of the 19th century suffragette Millicent Fawcett, located in Parliament Square. He considers that of Wollstonecraft a statue “disrespectful” towards the intellectual of the Age of Enlightenment.

Writer Tracy King despises it, calling it “a tremendous waste of a good opportunity, which can no longer be fixed.” On the nude, he has pointed out on Twitter that he affects the image that “the bodies [de las mujeres] are considered a public property “, something that, he understands, is related to” the high rates of sexual harassment of women who walk or run in the parks. ”

Another author, who signed the best seller How to be a woman Caitlin Moran has also despised her on Twitter. “Being hot and naked defines women so often that deliberately insisting on it does nothing but reinforce old hackneyed platitudes.” Simon Schama, who has written several books on history, is also not happy: “I always wanted a good monument for Wollstonecraft. This is not,” he has written.

But work also has its defenders. Cultural historian Fern Riddell says it reminds her of “how women are depicted in images that don’t fit their thinking” and advocates that people be free to interpret sculpture however they want.

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