It bothers me because women don't get the same consideration for heroic presentation as men. Because men get bodies and women get clothes. It's a monument, not a closet! It's hard to imagine a sculpture for "the men of World War II" not having even a single anonymous male figure to represent the larger group. The absence of physical representation - despite the fact that this is a monument to real human beings - is startling and telling. I'm glad we have a statue. But we also need to think about how it is presented, and what that says about our attitudes towards gender and heroism.
I was reminded of all this the other day as I was strolling up Whitehall and saw the monument again. This time I took a moment to look around as well. Lo and behold, all in the immediate vicinity:
And, of course, this succession of sculptures leads up the road to that most phallic of monuments, Nelson's Column. It's amazing how your view of something can shift so suddenly in a new context. Virginia Woolf nailed the experience - down to the location! - in A Room of One's Own: "If one is a woman one is often surprised by a sudden splitting off of consciousness, say in walking down Whitehall, when from being the natural inheritor of that civilization, she becomes, on the contrary, outside of it, alien and critical.”
If you assume something is the norm, you tend to question it only when it doesn't work for you. And it takes people a while to break free of the assumptions they have learned or been raised with. Once we're past childhood we have to learn to re-question things, perhaps constantly. It's the only way towards progress.