The 18th-century English writer and philosopher Mary Wolstoncraft, often referred to as the “mother of feminism”, received a new tribute on Tuesday: a statue in a London park to honor her life and work.
But almost immediately after its unveiling, the artwork – valued at 14 3,143,300 (approximately 190,000) and a decade in the making – attracted public ridicule and criticism of racism.
This sculpture has a small statue of a naked woman, which many say is not like a Walstoncraft, on top of a large, curved mass of silver. It all sits on a black base engraved with a famous Walstoncraft quote: “I don’t want to give women power over men, but over themselves.”
But many critics didn’t see it that way – that they didn’t appreciate the use of female nudity in a statue designed to celebrate Walstoncraft’s efforts to improve women’s rights.
The statue is topped by a small figure of a naked woman. Deposit: By Justin Tellis / AFP / AFP Getty Images
Author Tracy King also called the statue “a shocking waste of opportunity that cannot be undone.”
./15 – Anna Comne
The world’s first female historian was Anna Komne. In the 11th century, she wrote an elaborate account of both the Byzantine daily life and political struggles during the reign of her father, Emperor Alexius I, entitled “The Alexiad” (source for the above quote). Deposit: Anastasia Beltukova / CNN
He added that “there is no reason to portray Mary naked.” And that statue’s beautiful, slender body undermines the campaign’s goal of representing “every woman.”
Some critics admit that, despite their misconceptions about the appearance of the figurines, the original motive was an important one. Walstoncraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, although the term “feminism” was coined in her lifetime. In her writings and conversations, she argued that women are not inherently inferior to men, but are limited by social barriers and lack of access to education.
Carving of Mary Wolstoncraft. Deposit: Engraving by OP (Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
“More than 90% of London’s monuments celebrate men,” the campaign website reads. “This is determined against 51% of the female population.”
Of these, about half were based on fictional figures, 14 were of the Virgin Mary and 46 were of royalty – meaning there were only 25 statues of historical, non-royal women in the UK.
Recent years have seen increasing calls to change this. Since 2018, statues of female victims, writers and activists have been erected in many British cities, including London and Manchester.
Lilly Mary on Mary chose Hambling to create a statue of Walstoncraft in 2018 and finally set her goal of 3,143,300 in 2019 after years of fund-raising.
He added that the sculpture was silver because he thought it was “(a) female in color” rather than bronze and that it could capture sunlight and “float in space.”
The video shows the statue being installed – from Dig a hole for the base and use cranes to lift the statue in place.
In the video, B. Rowlatt, president of Mary on Green, said, “Seeing Maggie Humbling’s artwork grow, I have created a variety of volcanoes.” “I’ve always felt it was a huge injustice that people didn’t know who Mary Wolstoncraft was. We’ve come a long way in justifying that injustice.”
CNN has reached out to Hambling for comment.