Woman tipped to replace DSK at IMF is a CBA

CBA – my sister’s initials, but also, a handy acronym for Complete Bad Ass.

The CBA in question is Christine Lagarde, the trailblazing French Minister of Economic Affairs. Lagarde, a lawyer by training, is the first woman to hold that post, and the first woman to helm a G8 economy. Before that, she was the first woman to serve as chairman of the renowned international law firm Baker and McKenzie, where she practiced international and anti-trust law. A few years ago, Forbes ranked her seventeenth among the world’s most powerful women.

She is also a former member of the French synchronized swimming team, but that probably won’t help her secure the post as the new head of the IMF. What might help her is the fact that she is a woman, and right now, the IMF has serious woman trouble. According to the New York Times:

Another of Ms. Lagarde’s selling points, though, may be one not listed on her résumé.

“What’s happened with Strauss-Kahn underscores how great it would be to have a woman in the role,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a former I.M.F. chief economist who is now a professor at Harvard University.

If she gets the post, Ms. Lagarde would be the first woman to run the I.M.F. — or any large international financial institution, for that matter. But Mr. Rogoff indicated gender was only part of her appeal.

If she is installed as Strauss-Kahn’s replacement, Lagarde would be the first woman to hold the post. Of course, Rogoff was quick to note, Lagarde would be qualified regardless of her gender. Rogoff describes her as “enormously impressive, politically astute and a strong personality.”

This is all important, of course, but I know what you really want to know about Christine Lagarde: what does she look like and how does she dress herself? Don’t worry, the New York Times, in a story about the person most likely to become the next head of a massively powerful and important international economic organization, has you covered: Lagarde is “tall and stylish, with a shock of silver hair and a penchant for Chanel jackets.”

Well thank goodness they included that detail, otherwise we might not be able to properly assess Lagarde’s suitability for the role! There are lots of men mentioned in this article, but we don’t get to find out what colour hair they have or what kind of jackets they wear – shocker, I know. Seems like nothing, not even being one of the world’s most powerful people, makes you immune from this rubbish. It’s bittersweet to know that while being a woman might be a leg-up for Lagarde, she should still expect to contend with all the usual nonsense to which women in power are subjected.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/jessie2/ Jessie

    Check out the comments section of the NYT article. They are full of the worst sexist cliches you can imagine. I seriously hate people.

  • http://feministing.com/members/juliette/ Juliette

    Happy as I am to see a woman finally considered for such an important job, let’s not forget the most ridiculous reason she’d be getting the job: she’s European.
    Traditionally, a North American gets the World Bank, and a European gets the IMF. The fact that there are other continents on this planet – and that the countries in them are the ones most affected by the decisions of both institutions – seems to have escaped the people in charge of filling the jobs.

    So, I’d be immensely happier if the big “first” in this case was the country of origin of the nominee.

    • davenj

      Yep. It’s an achievement to see a woman head the IMF, but I don’t think we can call this an achievement when being European is a prerequisite for the position.

      • http://feministing.com/members/mudmorganfield/ Robin Margolis

        What’s more, I’d say the IMF intentionally employs her being the first woman as a safeguard against the critique of “yet another European.” Another instance of playing groups against each other with a slight nod to white women chosen to delay the major dismantling of privilege. As of now its being said that she will likely finish up the term and then the NEXT replacement will be from a non-European country.

  • http://feministing.com/members/gibby/ Nina

    This is great and all..and of course focusing on her hair/clothes/etc is complete crap.

    But that doesn’t make what the IMF does in practice any less heinous.

  • http://feministing.com/members/tamanosou/ Ariadne

    Yes, yes, yes. Let’s put a woman in the role entirely because statistically they’re less likely to commit violent crime against a domestic and they look damned purty in the Chanel. In fact, high ranking positions for women all around!

    As greatful as I am to have another role model and finally a woman in a legitimately powerful and usually male role it is really annoying that the media always seems to focus on the clothes. Sure clothes make the man but they evidently define the woman. This is Hilary Clinton and the “would you ask me that if I were a man” all over again.

    Let us appreciate this lady for her resume, intelligence, and future badassery rather than her apparently enviable wardrobe.

  • http://feministing.com/members/uhyeah/ Johanna

    This post represents the worst of feminism. So this woman is “bad ass” because…she’s a woman in a position of power? She represents the global elite that totally fucks over the poor (and middle class) through “bad ass” structural adjustment programs (SAPs) that destroy the countries that take IMF money? No country that has undergone a SAP–which entails brutal government restructuring, privatization of national industries and infrastructures, and opening wide the economies for a glut of First-world exports–has ever recovered economically. Of course what does increase is the gap between rich and poor.

    This woman represents the interests of a the ruling classes– who the fuck cares if it’s a woman pursuing the same capitalist, racist (most IMF money goes to developing countries) policies as DSK and the men before her? Blindly cheering women in a position of power and authority means blindly cheering on hierarchical and exploitive systems that hurt women and men in every country, everywhere.

    Anarcha-feminist analysis, ftw.

  • http://feministing.com/members/julianabritto/ Julianabritto

    Great post. That would be wonderful if there was a female head of the IMF, especially after all this. Hopefully she will be able to make some positive changes. I hadn’t read the NY Times article, but thanks for that analysis of it as well. It reminds me of when Obama came into office and ALL they asked Michelle about was “how will you decorate the White House? Won’t it be a difficult transition to have so many servants and people waiting on you? Did you choose these yellow drapes yourself?” No one really got why I was frustrated. If I were first lady I would derail most of those interviews and tell them something interesting!

  • http://feministing.com/members/saffo/ Saffo

    This post is the kind of thing that makes me not want to call myself a feminist. The crap that passes for “feminism” these days. The IMF is a systemically racist, imperialist, and, yes, sexist institution. It doesn’t matter WHO the figurehead is– this is clearly a cheep move to redeem the IMF’s image after the previous head was arrested for rape– it matters that this instution exists at all!

    Should we celebrate women who were in the SS? Women in the KKK? Think twice before you celebrate just any woman in a position of power and fail to quesiton the existence of that power in the first place, and the forms of systemic violence it perpetrates. This post furthers the image of feminism as a priviledged, elite, first-world idea, and ignores the struggles of women in the global south who are colonized by the IMF’s economic policies.

    As a trans person, I had the same reaction when Amanda Simpson was made the first transgender presidential appointee. And the trans community turned Simpson– a trans woman who had worked as a physicist for Raytheon, a larger weapons manufacturer… in essence she was designing new bombs to be used to murder Iraqis (trans folks included!)– into a fucking HERO.

    Thank you feministing, for this neocolonial pile of crap.