On International Women’s Day this year, on Wall Street State Street Global Advisors commissioned a statue of a defiant little girl staring down at Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue. The statue was erected as a way to not only remind everyone that more women in Wall Street is a good thing but also to empower young girls and women to have the courage to actively pursue those careers. Although in my opinion, the idea of ‘corporate feminism’ still has a lot to answer for, the message that this statue sent out was a great one and it made the headlines for the right reasons. The statue has come into the limelight again, but this time because another “artist” has added his touch – the touch of the fragile male ego feeling threatened. He has added a pissing pug to the collection of statues.

Alex Gardega, seemingly threatened by the statue of the small girl, felt the need to hypothetically relieve himself on her, through the addition of his pug. He said his intentions were to downgrade the statue of the girl as he felt that the girl has downgraded the bull, yet at the same time said he was pro-feminism…. I think it’s probably safe to say that Gardega is missing the point.

The Fearless Girl has become a symbol of women being accepted into the biggest testosterone infused industry in the world: finance. In my opinion, you cannot call yourself pro-feminist and at the same time ensure that young girls walking by a statue meant to empower them end up walking away with a very different set of messages – notably: this is what we think of you joining our industry. Naturally, people were outraged.

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Gardega isn’t the only problem though – he is a symbol of a greater problem that faces feminism and women in general – and that is the fragility of the male ego. It simply can’t cope when women are offered the same opportunities as men, and it feels threatened by something as harmless and simple as a small statue of a little girl.

Feminism has become somewhat mainstream in the last few years, and although I think it’s great that the message is getting out there, like anything which becomes mainstream, its meaning has been a little bit diluted. There are lots of men out there who are very keen to see women rise in the ranks as they understand that that would mean equal working hours for them, the chance to raise their children and allow younger boys and men to embrace their feelings and tackle mental health. Yet, unfortunately, there are still those men who see women not as colleagues but as competition, the men who are threatened by women and have internalised misogyny running through them. These guys are the problem.

When the ‘fragile male ego’ fights against women, it does it relentlessly, because the alternative is too much to bear. Women are told time and time again that we aren’t worthy of equality and this is ‘a man’s world’. In this case feminists are branded as butch, men-hating women and women constantly get beaten down and emotionally drained. This male fragility allows men like Gardega the platform to do everything in their power to hold women back rather than encourage them. A thought process which is perpetuated all too clearly by the Pissing Pug.

After three hours, Gardega took his statue down. But just because the Pissing Pug is no longer there, doesn’t mean that the problem has disappeared.

*image from pexels.com