Mary Wollstonecraft Statue Backlash

Mary Wollstonecraft Statue Backlash

A few weeks ago, on November 10, a statue remembering feminist icon Mary Wollstonecraft was built and displayed in Newington Green, in London. Almost immediately, social media users and reporters showed exactly why the statue was needed.

        Mary Wollstonecraft died in 1797, fighting for educational and social rights for women in a time where women had no rights and existed only to birth and raise more workers. Almost 250 years later, London decided she should be remembered with a statue. 

        The statue “fit well with the park,” as put by the New York Times; but it caused an uproar on social media, due to the fact there was the naked form of a woman on the top of the statue. Some thought a woman shouldn’t be remembered and empowered through her body (despite the many, many naked statues of men), while others believed that the inherent sexualization of a woman’s body explains why a statue in remembrance of a feminist icon is needed. 

       Protesters took it as far as to cover the statue’s body with clothing. This action, while criticized heavily, is telling of why feminists should be in the public eye more often—they fight for women’s rights in a world where the mere statue of a woman is too obscene for modern society, and especially in the time of which Mary Wollstonecraft was alive. 

       There is a theory that the New York Times discussed; it is that form caused such a fuss because the statue is thinner and the beauty industry’s idealized version of the female body. While that could hold some merit, as different bodies need to be represented and loved by the masses, for most, it’s hard to believe that so many people would get so angry and demand the statue be demolished because of that.

        The sexualization of and anger at the statue of Mary Wollstonecraft in London confuses many, makes sense to some, but ultimately it symbolizes the patriarchal narrative women cannot be powerful or feminist if they are openly sexual or are proud of their body.