Al Hunt is Worried About Janet Yellen's Lack of "Gravitas"

A blog about business and economics.
July 30 2013 4:49 PM

Janet Yellen Has Plenty of Gravitas

220px-Janet_yellen
Seems pretty gavitas-ish to me.

I tend to think gender issues have gotten too much play in the Fed chairman controversy relative to the monetary and regulatory policy issues in play. But boy oh boy did Al Hunt put sexism back on the table with this dispatch:

The president, according to people familiar with his thinking, believes Summers has the experience and expertise to succeed Ben Bernanke. No one doubts Yellen's credentials as an economist, but questions have been raised, mainly by those in the Summers camp, about whether she has the gravitas to manage a financial crisis.
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It is difficult to know how to read "gravitas" in this context as meaning something other than "a penis."

This is also a great example of why lining up woman validators to vouch for Summers' feminist bona fides won't really answer the charge that sexism is driving the pro-Summers sentiment. The sexism at work here just isn't about whether or not some of Summers' best friends are women. It's about the fact that there's never been a woman leader of a major central bank. Consequently, the social image of a classic central banker is necessarily the image of a man. As a result, a 60-something woman who's served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, chaired the Council of Economic Advisors, led the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and become Vice Chair of the Fed Board can be dismissed as lacking "gravitas" compared to an alternate candidate who on paper seems less qualified. If a woman can't acquire the necessary "gravitas" to do the job by having Yellen's career, then what exactly could she do?

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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