The city of San Francisco has passed an ordinance requiring that 30 percent of the public artwork representing non-fictional people in the city depict women. The new rule also requires the Arts Commission to put up a statue of Maya Angelou, who was once a San Francisco resident, in the city’s main library.
“Across our nation, women are underrepresented not only in leadership positions but also in public spaces,” Supervisor Catherine Stefani said, according to Fox 2. “The accomplishments of great women deserve to be recognized alongside the accomplishments of great men.”
Stefani also said that she would eventually like to see the ratio of women to men depicted in such artwork rise from the 30 percent threshold to an even split.
Fox 2 reports that Stefani has “secured the final funds” for Angelou’s statue, and that the ordinance also contains language “starting a fund to construct and maintain public artwork depicting women.”
Now, to be fair, non-fictional public artwork in the city depicts far more men than women. In fact, according to Fox 2, only two of the city’s 585 permanent works of art depict non-fictional women: a statue of Florence Nightingale at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, and a bust of former San Francisco mayor (and current California senator) Dianne Feinstein at City Hall.
Personally, however, I think that this is an area where the government shouldn’t be involved. I mean, affirmative action for statues? Are we serious here? It just sounds ridiculous. What’s more, it’s not like the ordinance is free of cost. Whether this is well-intentioned or not, it’s going to be taxpayers — including women — who have to pay for it.
And the cost of living in San Francisco is already absurd! In fact, a recent study conducted by Walletwyse showed that San Francisco was the most expensive to live in of 540 cities around the world, with an average rent around $3,500 per month. Certainly, there are many residents — even female ones — who would rather save some of their cash for rent than have that cash go toward some statues. If anything, the city government should be looking for ways to cut costs by doing less, rather than finding ways to spend more of taxpayers’ money.
There being too few statues of women sounds like a great private cause. It sounds like a great opportunity for an interested activist to ask for donations to erect some — that way, any women who are bothered by the lack of female statues could feel free to donate in order to change things. Me? I’d rather keep my money. After all, the only thing more empowering than seeing statues of people who look like me around my city would be for me to have more hard-earned cash in my pocket with which to enjoy living there.