A Pox on the Patriarchy
This week I heard that a new statue of a woman was being proposed for central London. Now, as some of you may know, I have a bit of a thing for statues.
So much so, in fact, that two years ago I spent a weekend counting all the statues in the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association database.
After counting 925 statues, I found that males outnumber females 2.5:1, and that the most common type of female statue was a figurative nude of no-one in particular — like “Girl in a Hat” in the grounds of Birmingham University, which by the way also features a Grade II listed facade featuring 12 famous men from history.
I found that female statues most often serve as adoring decorative muses for statues of real-life men (my favourite of the genre being the half-naked Euterpe weeping over the bust of Arthur Sullivan — he’s so above lowly feminised corporeality he’s literally just a head) and that there are more statues of men called John than there are of non-royal female historical figures.
Incidentally, it is purely because of Queen Victoria’s unashamed love of putting up statues of herself that I have to use the qualifier “non-royal”: if you discount her, fewer than 3% of the statues I counted were of women who actually existed.
So you might think that on hearing about the proposed new statue I’d be delighted. Reader, you’d be wrong.
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