Mary Wollstonecraft, a major figure in British feminism, has been lighting up the circuits.
In an attempt to raise money to erect a statue of Wollstonecraft, a hologram of her image graced a wall of the Palace of Westminster (a.k.a. “the mother of all parliaments”) as part of a campaign known as “Mary on the Green”.
Campaigners are aiming to raise £240,000 to pay for the statuary on Newington Green, in north London, near the site of Wollstonecraft’s former home and the school where the radical 18th-century campaigner taught. They also spent two hours handing out leaflets and promoting the fact that 77 supportive MPs have already signed a petition, including Jeremy Corbyn MP, who masterminded the turning out of the lights overlooking the Thames.
Whether or not a statue is the best way to memorialize the Vindication of the Rights of Women author has become significant as it underscores the lack of women literally captured in stone, evidently a worldwide problem.
Of the 5,193 public outdoor sculptures of famous people in the US, for example, only 394, or less than 8%, are of women, compared with 4,799 of men, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Art Inventories Catalog.
Earlier this year, Lynette Long, a Washington area psychologist and founder of Eve (Equal Visibility Everywhere) told the Young Feminists network in the US that this imbalance had a negative impact on young girls and their sense of equality. “Humans tend to trust the nonverbal, and the statues send a very clear nonverbal message. Girls can’t be what they can’t see,” she said.
So why go to all the trouble to get Wollstonecraft’s image out to the masses? It might be as simple as the fact that statues of women, such as they are, tend to be of a generic nature. While there’s the odd Abigail Adams or Phillis Wheatley commemoration, in general men rule the stone world.
Oh, and as to why this is making headlines? It might have something to do with this …
The last time an image of a woman made headlines for its projection on the House of Commons it was a naked Gail Porter to promote a poll to find the world’s sexiest women. At least this time it is to publicise a campaign to honour one of our most radical and important writers.
So, what do you think?