If policewomen have the same ‘power, confidence and authority’ as policemen, why can’t they be dressed like them?
This is a sculpture that Melbourne artist Frank Malerba wants The City of Port Phillip to install outside a hotel in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda.The sculptural pieces are each 2.4 metres high and depict three policewomen. Titled ‘Under Arrest’, they are created by local artist Frank Malerba.
Says Frank Malerba of his sculpture: “In this work I aimed to create a cool iconic edgy sculpture which depicts the women behind the uniform…depicting how women have the same power, confidence and authority as their male counterparts but with a touch of glamour. Behind the uniform there is a softer more obviously feminine aspect of the contemporary female.”
Malerba depicts the women behind the uniform alright: as the stuff of dominatrix and bondage fantasy. Fishnets, stilletoed leather boots, breasts revealed, the one piece leather ‘uniform’ and the tools of policing, such as the gun, baton and handcuffs, represented as part of S&M fantasy.
Female police officers are reduced to sexual playthings, which mocks the position of authority they hold. ‘Getting arrested’ becomes the equivalent of getting off. This sculpture has the potential to contribute or even increase the sexual harassment of female police officers.
If policewomen have the same ‘power, confidence and authority’ as their male counterparts, then why can’t they be dressed like them? Would we see a proposed sculpture of male officers depicted the same way? I doubt it.
The authority of policewomen – and their ability to uphold the law – is diminished by this sculpture. Their office is reduced to male fantasy about women in uniform.
According to its website, “Council recognises the value of public art that enhances public space, has aesthetic appeal, reflects community values, and is supported by the local community”.
On these grounds, approval should be denied.
The size and colour give a “sense of fun” to the sculpture and to Fitzroy Street, says Malerba.
If by fun you mean objectifying female policing and potentially increasing their sexual harassment.
Policing authorities and unions should speak out against the proposed artwork. Council should not allow it to go ahead.
You can have your say here by December 16.