Obama's Fed Pick Preferences Have Feminist Critics Yellen

Is Obama a closet sexist? Or, may there be a different explanation?

Larry Summers' decision to bow out from consideration for the Federal Reserve chair means that President Obama won’t now flunk the sexism test. That’s because the default winner of the job will be Janet Yellen, the current vice chair of the Fed, whose promotion had become something of a crusade for the feminist establishment angry at Obama’s allegedly dismal record in promoting gender equality in government.

There are many good reasons for Obama to pick—and to not pick—Yellen. But viewing them from the narrow lens of sexism might ultimately leave women less—not more—empowered.

Feminists complain that although the number of men and women working for Uncle Sam in the lower ranks is close, women are highly underrepresented in top-level positions, a pattern that Obama is perpetuating.

About 42 percent of federal judges appointed by Obama are women. But apart from naming two justices to the Supreme Court, Obama’s diversity record in the upper echelons is decidedly lackluster: Only 35 percent of his second-term cabinet consists of women—less than Bill Clinton’s 41 percent 15 years ago. Worse, none of these women are in top positions since Hillary Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State. Most disappointing to liberals, however, is Obama’s inner White House circle, which, with Valerie Jarrett’s exception, is dominated by (white) men.

Passing up the opportunity to make history by naming a woman to head the Fed would have been final proof that Obama doesn’t give a damn about female advancement. This is especially the case given that Summers, who was reportedly Obama’s preference before he bowed out, has a reputation for being an abrasive misogynist. Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, once complained that he made her feel like “a piece of meat” during meetings. And feminists have despised him ever since he suggested that women aren’t as good as men at math and science. They had launched an active campaign to defeat his candidacy, forcing him to withdraw rather than face the ignominy of having his attitudes toward women questioned. The other rap against Summers is that he was the architect of President Clinton’s efforts to deregulate Wall Street that caused the great financial meltdown.

By mainstream standards, Yellen is certainly more than qualified for the job. A majority of economists polled by Reuters and Bloomberg picked her as the better candidate to head the Fed, partly because she foresaw the consequences of Summers’ allegedly foolish financial deregulation effort. Yellen, by contrast, is an inflation “dove” who is always happy to open the monetary spigot to lift the economy.

Be that as it is, is it possible that Obama, a movement liberal, who was raised for a while by a single mother and is raising two daughters, is a closet sexist because he preferred Summers over Yellen? Has he bought into a “definition of leadership based on stereotypical male qualities,” as Ezra Klein puts it? Or are there other explanations for his choices?

Presidents need to surround themselves with people they are most comfortable with and Obama seems to have a greater comfort-level with men. That’s not because he’s sexist—but because he is asocial. Clinton was a social omnivore able to connect with men and women at many levels. Obama, by contrast, is introverted and aloof. This creates barriers that men can overcome more easily than women—just as women can reach out to their shy sisters more easily than men to form easy friendships.

Allowing no accommodation for personal traits that affect a parochial gender arithmetic may or may not make for a more equal society—but it’ll make for a more oppressive one.

Consider Harvard Business School’s aggressive experiment to eliminate the gender grade gap that the New York Times wrote about this weekend. The school revamped instruction to make sure men didn’t hog discussion. Everything—the way students “spoke, studied and socialized”—became subject to intervention.

Women were coached to raise their hands more assertively—and men less assertively. Because administrators felt that even Harvard women were more interested in finding a highly-paid husband over a highly-paying job, Halloween costumes were banned in classrooms lest girls came dressed as “sexy pirates” to attract male attention. Alcohol at school parties was prohibited.

Such Big Sister puritanism has boosted the number of women graduating with honors—but it has also triggered a rebellion by male and female students who resented the loss of control over their lives. Some of them donned T-shirts emblazoned with “Unapologetic” to mock the administrator who used the word constantly to defend her intrusive schemes.

Feminist bean counters need to give President Obama some space to assemble a team that he can work with most effectively. Personal choices and social relations reflect complex calculations. Making them hew to a unitary criterion of sexism might produce more equality—but not at a price worth paying.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • OldMexican||

    A majority of economists polled by Reuters and Bloomberg picked her [Yellen] as the better candidate to head the Fed, partly because she foresaw the consequences of Summers' allegedly foolish financial deregulation effort.


    If she foresaw the consequences of something that had absolutely nothing to do with the housing downturn or the subsequent Depression, then she is INDEED very qualified to run the Fed, considering that her potential predecessor was also completely wrong about what caused the other Great Depression. I mean, why change the pattern?

  • niallt||

    Start working at home with Google. It’s the most-financialy rewarding I've ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $7439 this last month. I actually started five months/ago and practically straight away was bringin in at least $74, per-hour. visit this site right here www.Pow6.com

  • Michael Price||

    Somebody please get this spamming asshole off this site.

  • Michael Price||

    If she really foresaw the consequences of financial "deregulation" then presumably she bet heavily on the basis of that and is now amazingly rich?

  • John C. Randolph||

    Where oh where can the teleprompter-in-chief find a female as incompetent as Bernanke? Those are some pretty big clown shoes to fill.

    -jcr

  • OldMexican||

    Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, once complained that he [Summers] made her feel like "a piece of meat" during meetings.


    She's just being a sour-puss because Summers never made her feel like a piece of ass. Which, by the way, no human male in his right mind could, or would.

  • John Galt||

    A Google image search has confirmed she's a real looker.

  • Bill||

    So I take it this is not her: http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....llery.html

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Bernanke fantasized about throwing money out of helicopters. Yellen is actually ideologically blinkered enough to do it. This is not a good pick.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    It's certain that whoever he picks is going to be a big pile of suck. Do feminists want to be saddled with that?

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Feminist bean counters need to give President Obama some space to assemble a team that he can work with most effectively.

    On second thought, keep crowding him. I shudder to think of what an "effective" team might wreak.

  • John Galt||

    The more Obama's base can throw him off balance the better for the country as a whole?

    Makes sense.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Ideally, they'd lock him in a coat closet for the next three years, but I'll take what I can get.

  • Snark Plissken||

    This is especially the case given that Summers, who was reportedly Obama’s preference before he bowed out, has a reputation for being an abrasive misogynist.

    Remember folks not just a misogynist, but an abrasive one. Shikha said it in two articles in a row so it must be true. Personally, I don't pay much attention to Shikha's reputation for enjoying abrasive sex with barnyard animals, but I'm a professional.

  • Flemur||

    "Abrasive" is femspeak for "correct; so we must attack and insult because we can't refute".

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Janet Yellen is one of the FOMC members that make Bernanke look relatively hawkish"
    http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/F/10/scale.swf

  • Killazontherun||

    Yellen is eminently qualified; she has all the credentials one needs in DC to fail upward:

    Janet Yellen On The Financial Crisis: "I Didn’t See Any Of That Coming Until It Happened"

    http://www.economicpolicyjourn.....sis-i.html

  • Bill Dalasio||

    You know, I'm particularly struck by one thing in the entire Summers/ Yellen debate. Neither side seems particularly interested in discussing the fact that the Fed Chair's major authority (in practice) is setting monetary policy. More important than Ms. Yellen's vagina or Mr. Summers' views on deregulation is the fact that the Fed Chairman has inordinate power to set rates (the FOMC rarely if ever opposes the Chairman). You'd think that her views on the actual job she's being considered for would be kind of important, wouldn't you?

  • Flemur||

  • Flemur||

  • Libertarius||

    1. I'm still trying to find this "deregulation" thing they talk about. Bush never deregulated anything; actually, it is only the Obozo regime which has added more regulations than W. And if we're still supposed to pretend that Glass-Steagall had anything to do with the Federal government creating a massive real estate bubble (with consonant credit bubbles and distortion in other assets), well, fuck that, I'm not one for pretending. Glass-Steagall was the ancestor of Dodd-Frank, which means: a half-baked muck of arbitrary and destructive regulations put in place on the pretense that the market had been free before a collapse caused by the Fed and other interventions allegedly necessitated more interventions.

    2. Yes, Summers is a blowhard and a moron--but he wasn't stupid enough to take this job. Larry knows the current monetary system is living on borrowed time, and the next Fed Chair is likely to be the one who gets stuck holding the bag when the whole rotten thing collapses. Are we seriously supposed to believe that the Fed can just monetize trillion-dollar deficits indefinitely? And are we to believe that the Fed can simply stop QE and everything will be great? Bullshit--Bernanke opened Pandora's box in 2009 and the end of QE is the end of the US Dollar.

    Anyway, I say Summers didn't want to get stuck being Bernanke's bagholder via an appointment from Kommissar Owebozo. The misogyny thing is horseshit, who gives a fuck.

  • Bill||

    That was my thought. Maybe some of them will refuse it because they don't want to get the blame when it all collapses.

  • Gorilla tactics||

    Feminists are bitching...shocking.

  • SQRLSY One||

    My theory is that it’s not SEXISM behind this whole thing, it is SPECIESISM… “Yellen” is at the one and the same time reminiscent of “Ol’ Yeller”, an obvious slam at a sub-humanoid, doggoid species, AND, above and beyond that, of “Yeti”, which is yeti ANOTHER sub-humanoid species! The whole thing obviously is totally SATURATED with species-ism, and yeti Emperor Obama, obvious PATRIARCH that he is, is utterly OBLIVIOUS! “There Otter Bee a LAW”, I say, and I hope and pray to Government Almightyness and Political Correctness that I have not offended SOME species, SOME-where…

  • JJ Thompson||

    That’s not because he’s sexist—but because he is asocial. Clinton was a social omnivore able to connect with men and women at many levels. Obama, by contrast, is introverted and aloof. This creates barriers that men can overcome more easily than women—just as women can reach out to their shy sisters more easily than men to form easy friendships.

    How would you know? Do you know the president? You have to fuck your intern to be considered able to "connect with women?" And if you don't you are "asocial?" You may be a female libertarian, but you're still a female. This is why people think you guys should stay in the kitchen.

  • ||

    Clinton was a social omnivore able to connect with men and women at many levels.

    In women's case preferably at the hip level.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement