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Civic statues; the UK's oldest subliminal ad-campaign for patriarchy

March 8, 2017

Leonardo said that an image is worth a thousand words. It’s something we all experience; an image will bypass the rational mind and reach deep into our imagination.

Therein lies the quiet, persistent power of the civic statue. We are, in effect, surrounded by the coded story of what power is about and who wields it; a constant reminder that women are barely in the running. With 85% of civic statues being of men and their achievements, we are witnessing the oldest nationwide campaign of subliminal marketing of men and masculine values.

By questioning the status quo we have the opportunity to re-define the story we tell ourselves and coming generations. We can rewrite the script for this old, outdated ad-campaign.

We can re-assess what it is that builds a good society. Does it consist mainly of men’s achievements – military, political, accademic - or do we in fact value, and need, equally to see the other, as yet largely unsung, contributions to society? We could see – we have the power to bring about - images of female achievements, of political peacemakers, of community building, of collaborative endeavour, as well as honouring all the female artists and cultural icons alongside their male counterparts. For a great analysis of attitudes to women and power listen to the radio 4 talk by Professor Mary Beard on Women in Power at bbc.co.uk. or at the London Review of Books site www.lrb.co.uk