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Fearless Girls   Leave a comment

This little girl, done in bronze and sort of “smuggled” into position overnight (with a city permit allowing them) either says a lot about the future of business on Wall Street, or doesn’t say anything, depending on who you read and talk to.  The statue, Fearless Girl, was dropped deliberately in front of another famous statue, Charging Bull, as a sort of symbol.  She is supposed to represent future women standing up to Wall Street and corporations who have almost no female representation in board rooms and executive suites, demanding that this change, and soon.

Admirers think this is great.  There’s a lot of detractors as well, though, pointing out that the statue was commissioned by an investment house that sells a branded package of stocks from companies with women on their board — and the plaque at Fearless Girl‘s feet is nothing more than advertising the package, complete with brand.  It’s also pointed out that less than a third of the company’s own board is female, so shouldn’t they be putting their money where their mouth supposedly is?

Harper and I see this as a beginning, not an ending.  Less than 30% representation certainly isn’t equal, but it’s a beginning.  Societal mentality changes slowly — as slow as a glacier at times — but it changes.  While as much progress as women have made in the corporate area in 45 years is about as slow as that glacier, remember that those big ice cubes have ground down mountains over time.  It’s time to start improving corporate performance, yes.  But it will come, one way or another.

Remembering Etan Patz

Normally, I confine myself to matters pertaining to Second Life.  I prefer to keep within that because it’s easy to write about things firsthand, by exploring or photographing; or I can talk about issues that I have a far clearer view on than all of the political spleen being vented in the name of “public discourse” on real life blogs these days.  But this story touches on memories across some thirty years, and I thought I’d share them today.

Etan Patz, before his disappearance

Do you recall seeing this boy in the newspapers or on the sides of milk cartons back in the late 1970s?  His name was Etan Patz, and he’s almost certainly dead now, knowing how such cases have turned usually.  In May 1979, Etan was 6 years old, living in the SoHo district of Manhattan with his parents — a far more gritty place back then, more run down than it is today.  He felt he was old enough to walk to the bus stop for school, and he talked his parents into letting him go on without them.  That morning was the last time Stanley and Julie Patz saw their son.  Little to no solid trace of Etan has been found over nearly 33 years, and he was declared legally dead in 2001.  The District Attorney of Manhattan, however, reopened the case in 2010; and the New York Times reports that a cadaver dog taken into the basement of a building just a block from the Patz’ home keyed on a scent.  The NYPD and FBI have begun stripping the drywall from the basement, which was a woodworking shop in 1979, to get to the bare walls, looking for evidence of remains or clues.

Etan was not, of course, the first child to go missing; and requests for information on missing children had been placed on milk jugs in the Midwest before him, according to the Washington Post.  (Myself, I never noticed them at the time, if any were sold in my home area of southwest Michigan; but we didn’t buy milk by the half-gallon, so I could have missed them.)  But Etan’s disappearance helped begin the awareness of missing children that was crystallized fully by the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981.  I lived in Adam’s home state of Florida by that time, and I recall the search that went on for him or his remains, and the fear that began to seize parents as the case continued in the headlines.  People knew that it could be dangerous for small children — my mother told me stories of things that had gone on in department store rest rooms she’d heard about when working at K-Mart.  But now parents became actively afraid to let their children go out without supervision.  Children became safer back then to an extent; in trade, childhood died a little, as parents were reluctant to let their children walk even known neighborhoods alone anymore.

As a parent myself, I can understand this.  Knowing the histories of Etan and Adam and all the others over the years, the found and the still missing and the abused, I know that the United States is just not as safe as, say, some Continental European countries, where parents can leave a baby in a stroller literally on the street while they go into a restaurant to get a cup of coffee.  I long for the innocent times of my own childhood.  I realize they’re not going to come back, at least not in my lifetime.

For Stanley and Julie Patz, I hope this new search brings answers.  It will never bring closure; that concept does not really exist.  Their son will always be six years old, tow-headed and grinning and gone, and the void cannot be filled for them unless he somehow materializes alive and with explanations for where he’s been over 33 years of time.  But, if the police are successful this time, at least they may know some of what happened.

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