According to a survey by the blog Gothamist, out of the 145 statues in New York City, only five represent women.
I know what this looks like: another example of the stark gender inequality that prevails in our nation. Yes, it’s unfair that more dead men are made into statues than dead women, just as it is unfair that women make 80 cents to a man’s dollar. But here is a thought: Statues are really ugly, and they are the worst way to honor people. Making a statue of a woman, in fact, is a disservice to the beauty and power of womankind.
In antiquity statues were pretty cool. Who doesn’t love the Sphinx or the freaky Easter Island heads? They were also a mode of realist expression, and people at that time needed an outlet for their feelings about Christ. Statues could be very beautiful, usually when made by horny Italian men.
Today the average statue looks like this:
That is the Mr. Rogers Memorial Statue in Pittsburgh, which was made by heavyweight sculptor (heh) Robert Berks, whose technique appears to be cobbling together scraps of ham to make something that looks like a human. A great way to honor a man. Despite this, Berks was commissioned to make many statues of famous men, including a $1.8 million rendition of Einstein (even though Robert Oppenheimer said Einstein was “too big for just a sculpture” lol men).
It doesn’t bother me that much if a statue of a man is really ugly. Maybe this is what Robert Berks, actually a genius, wanted: for us to remember powerful men as if they had horrible skin diseases.
When it comes to memorializing women, though, a statue does not suffice. The best way to honor a dead woman is to get this sentence from The Dialectic of Sex tattooed on one’s back: “The heart of woman’s oppression is her child-bearing and child-rearing role.” But no one seems to be dedicated enough to women to do that. Instead, some women get statued.
Here is what happened when someone tried to make a statue of Lucille Ball.
Wow. Extremely rude. Fortunately for womenkind, people were so offended by the sheer grotesqueness of this statue that it was removed and replaced with a new one. One step forward for women in comedy, I guess.
There’s basically no way a statue of anyone will ever look good unless it is done in marble. But marble has fallen out of favor for the horrible bronze that statue artists tend to use today, an unfortunate material that makes any subject look like its teeth are about to fall out.
Representation in public art matters, but women do not deserve to be remembered in this heinous way. Do anything in their honor but make a statue. Let artists continue to make bad statues of men that teens can mime sexual acts on for social media. It is the perfect memorialization.