Two days after a bronze statue of a young girl meant to signify the power of women in leadership roles was installed in front of the Wall Street bull in downtown Manhattan, a man was seen rubbing up against the effigy in what some are calling proof that sexism is alive and well in 2017.
Alexis Kaloyanides, 34, was out with co-workers when they decided to stop by the statue Thursday night, figuring the area would be far less crowded than on International Women’s Day, when masses had flocked to get a look at "Defiant Girl."
"It was a beautiful night... there were about 15 or 20 people there," Kaloyanides said. "We started talking about the statue, a little girl about 5 or 6 years old proudly posed with the statue for a picture, it was just a nice moment. These three young men came along, and at first they were hanging off the bull... and then this one guy rushed up and started grinding against the statue of the girl, being lewd and totally inappropriate."
The stunt shocked the crowd, which immediately yelled at the unidentified man, who laughed as he walked off with his friends, she said.
“He was gone within 20 seconds, but it just ruined the mood of the scene,” Kaloyanides said. “There were people there talking about empowering children and women and for then to have this 20-something showing his entitlement, defiling the statute... it was utterly revolting.”
Kaloyanides, an architectural designer from Queens, snapped a photo of the incident and posted it to social media, writing: "Almost as if out of central casting, some Wall Street finance broseph appeared and started humping the statue while his gross date rape-y friends laughed and cheered him on. He pretended to have sex with the image of a little girl. Douchebags like this are why we need feminism.”
Kaloyanides stood by the decision to share the image online, saying the man’s behavior was no laughing matter and shouldn’t be treated as such.
"This is just further perpetuating a mentality of ‘boys will be boys,’ and that ‘it’s okay, it’s a joke, just brush it off,’” she said. “This young man likely has a mother, a sister perhaps, a girlfriend, a wife — who knows? I’m getting tired of making excuses and laughing it off. I for one am not gonna laugh it off anymore."
The original photo had been shared nearly 1,500 times on Facebook as of Friday.
“This man did something in public. He wanted to get a reaction, and he’s getting it now — good or bad,” she said. “And it’s not like it’s just a bunch of angry women. Decent men are outraged.”
The statue was installed Tuesday by State Street Global Advisers, the world’s third-largest asset manager, as part of its new campaign to push companies to add more women to their boards.
The money manager, a nearly $2.5 trillion investor and unit within State Street Corp., said it would vote against boards of companies that failed to take steps to increase its number of members that are women, Business Insider reported.
On the day the statue was erected, State Street planned to send letters asking 3,500 companies to act.
“We’re talking about a giant in the financial world,” Kaloyanides said, noting that field’s boards typically are comprised of mostly men. “It’s statistically proven: Boards and large companies with gender mixed leadership do financially better. It’s not just for appearances. This sculpture is a symbol of females in business.
“When girls are young and coming up, hopefully, as it was in my case, parents tell them ‘you can be anything you want,” she continued. “Then you get to junior high school, and high school, and puberty hits, and then you get into college, and throughout it all you’re handed an entirely different set of experiences and suddenly we discount ourselves... You’re looked at funny if you raise your hand and answer all the questions correctly.
"Women in positions of power, they don’t want to be seen as being a b*****. There’s a contradiction—boys are leaders and girls are bossy. This symbolizes a young girl untainted by the realities of the world. It’s still possible.
"I have to believe that this [the photo and subsequent reaction] is just sort of a catalyst to get people to continue to say it’s not okay to act this way."