London statue honouring feminist pioneer taped up, cloaked in masks
By Paul Childs LONDON (Reuters) - A newly unveiled nude female statue in London meant to honour feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft has been targeted by unknown critics who stuck black tape on its breasts and pubic area, draped it in COVID masks and dressed it in a T-shirt. The sculpture by British artist Maggi Hambling, unveiled on Tuesday, angered feminists and other critics who said the naked figure drew attention to the female body instead of honouring the 18th century intellectual's achievements and influence.
By Paul Childs
LONDON (Reuters) - A newly unveiled nude female statue in London meant to honour feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft has been targeted by unknown critics who stuck black tape on its breasts and pubic area, draped it in COVID masks and dressed it in a T-shirt.
The sculpture by British artist Maggi Hambling, unveiled on Tuesday, angered feminists and other critics who said the naked figure drew attention to the female body instead of honouring the 18th century intellectual's achievements and influence.
A key theme in the backlash was that men commemorated with monuments are usually depicted clothed. Hambling responded by saying that she wanted to move away from the tradition of "male heroic statuary" to create something timeless, not historical.
Having received ample media attention all day, the statue was visited in the evening by unknown people who taped up its private parts and placed two face masks, of the kind worn to curb the spread of COVID-19, on its shoulders, like a cloak.
An image of the statue with the tape and masks circulated on social media late on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, the items had been removed, but a Reuters photographer saw two women drape the figure in a T-shirt and place a placard next to the plinth.
The placard displayed a quote from Wollstonecraft's groudbreaking work of 1792, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman", reading: "Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience."
Cast in silvered bronze, the sculpture depicts a small naked female figure with a conventionally beautiful physique rising out of a much taller abstract figure resembling a vertical swirl.
Shortly after the two women covered it in a T-shirt, with some difficulty due to the height of the swirl, a third woman removed the garment using a stick. Groups of onlookers argued about the merits of the statue and of its critics.
The commotion reflected the strong opinions voiced by critics of the statue since it was revealed.
Feminist writer Caroline Criado Perez, who successfully campaigned for a statue of 19th century suffragist Millicent Fawcett to be erected in Parliament Square, called the new sculpture "disrespectful to Wollstonecraft".
Caitlin Moran, author of the bestseller "How To Be a Woman", raged against the statue on Twitter, arguing that "being hot and naked so regularly defines women that to deliberately play into it does nothing but reinforce tired old tropes".
Simon Schama, author of numerous bestsellers on history, wrote: "Always wanted a fine monument to Wollstonecraft. This isn't it."
The statue also had its defenders.
Cultural historian Fern Riddell said it reminded her of "how women are created in images that never match their thoughts", and said people could interpret it however they wanted.
(Writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Gareth Jones)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.