Over the weekend while perusing news, I saw two images of giant statues of male leaders. The first was of the late former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il (L). The second picture was a statue of late Pope John Paul II (R)– billed as the world’s tallest at 13.8-meter/45.3-foot.
Maybe it was the synchronicity of a short time span that made me think, but I wondered….Where are the giant statues of female leaders (dead or alive!)?
I thought back to all the statues I’ve seen live or virtually, I couldn’t think of one giant statue of a living or former female leader (note: other than the Virgin Mary, who arguably is not a leader in the way I am discussing here). If you’ve seen one or know of one, please let me know. There have been numerous female leaders around the globe, so I am hoping you have knowledge that such statues of women exist.
Why does the lack of giant female leaders matter? First, a statue is a literal symbol of power…past, present and future power. Second, a statue is a visible representation of what is important, valued, and relevant. Third, it communicates who is most important in a society…and more importantly who is not important. If boys and girls only see statues of men, it socializes youth to believe that only men are capable, competent and deserving of leadership positions. An absence of women in power becomes normal and expected. Fourth, it celebrates male leadership in a public space, communicating to the masses that the accomplishments of these men must be many and great, and are to be celebrated uncritically and problematically. Fifth, size matters….the grand scale of these and other such statues signifies that men are bigger and therefore have more value, than women.
I have a feeling this trend is also replicated and true of sport statues. The sport statues I have seen are of male coaches and athletes…so if you know of any sport statues of female coaches and/or athletes let me know. Just as with seeing females in visible position of power and seeing female athletes ON TV, in print or digitally is important, statues of females represent an important aspect of power rarely considered.