Both the City of Melbourne and the state government claim they want to see more statues of women with the government last month announcing a $1 million fund for women artists to create statues and sculptures of women.
While the artists are busy getting creative it seems that a good first step could be just finding a spare spot to put one of our glad wrapped women statues on display.
The lack of statues of women is not a problem unique to Melbourne or even Australia.
A Monument of One’s Own reckons there are more statues of animals across our country than there are women.
It’s a similarly depressing story around the rest of the world with groups from the United Kingdom to the United States trying to tackle statue gender imbalance.
Of course you could argue that there are bigger and more important things to worry about than statues.
In a week when Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ damning review of sexism in parliamentary workplace culture was published and the recent departure of politicians who stepped down or aside because of allegations of misconduct and abuse, there are certainly plenty of living and breathing gender issues to be concerned with.
However Professor Clare Wright, who heads up A Monument of One’s Own in Australia, says the lack of statues of women illustrates the “respect gap” women face.
If the only people we think are worth commemorating are men what signal does that send out about respecting women?
This absence of respect is the common thread between issues like the high rates of violence against women and the ongoing gender pay gap.
When you look at it in this way a statue is more than just a statue, it illustrates how we see and are seen in our world.
We need to open up the storage lockers and get some more women on Melbourne’s plinths.
It’s time for some commemorative justice.
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