A statue of a nude woman reaching the height of a four-story building is expected to stand on the National Mall for four months before the Washington Monument and the White House. Why? The sculptor, Marc Cochran, told USA Today that the figure is meant to combat the dehumanization of women and demonstrate how it would be if women were safe – Fearless in her altogether.

Comes the revolution

The National Park Service approved of the project through March 7. The statue, titled “R-Evolution” is waiting on fundraising to defray the $90,000 cost of transportation from San Francisco.

The project is also contingent on gathering enough volunteers to guard the work on the mall round the clock. Likely the Park Service doesn’t want to be responsible for the actions of unhappy chauvinists. The need for the work and its protection speaks for the issues of our time – the cry for gender equality and the pushback from naysayers. You might say that ”R-Evolution” is a kind of variation of “Fearless Girl,” the statue on Wall Street that challenges the financial district to make room for women in the boardroom – the difference being that this new challenge comes from an adult female wearing nothing.

Justice for all

None of this is to suggest that this naked lady on the mall will be the only one in the nation’s capital.

I’m thinking of “Spirit of Justice,” a 12.5-tall figure of Lady Justice with her arms raised in triumph that has been standing in the Great Hall of the Justice Building for more than six decades. She has a male counterpart in the Great Hall, a statue called “Majesty of Justice. It’s notable that while the female is unclad, the male comes with a loin cloth.

Maybe the male form needs liberation, too.

Battle of the sexes

Speaking of statues of naked women, Cochran’s associate, Julia Whitelaw, told the press the artist used to make his female figures life-size but started to scale them up because men averted their eyes from his human scale work. Apparently that’s what happened to Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002 when he ordered Lady Justice’s bared form draped.

Taking a stand

One may wonder why no one objects another famous sculpture of a female nude in D.C. held by the Smithsonian Institution – titled “Crouching Woman,” a.k.a. “Lust” at the Rodin Museum. Originally planned for “The Gates of Hell,” it describes a balled up figure with her arms holding tight to jackknifed legs pressed close to her chest. Clearly in turmoil, the sculptor suggests sexual tension made manifest by the figure touching her breast - as if her desires would rob her of control, of her very self. But there is no such conflict in “R-Evolution” This statue stands strong with feet apart, not unlike “Fearless Girl,” but without the defiant gesture of hands on hips. Instead, she lets her arms fall at rest at her side with palms turned outward, as if to say, “See how unafraid I am!”

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