Event Date: 28 November 2014
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1E 7HX
A BiGS Event:
Gendering Representations of the Financial Crisis
When the Financial Crisis of 2008 first hit with the collapse of Lehmann Brothers, news coverage, expert testimony and policy reports were all remarkably, if perhaps unconsciously, gendered: Christine Lagarde quipped that ‘if Lehman Brothers had been ‘Lehman Sisters,’ today’s economic crisis clearly would look quite different’. Harriet Harman agreed that if the City and Wall Street were to have a more feminine ethos, maybe financial crises would be fewer and further between (Independent 2009). Other commentators were even more direct: ‘more women on Wall Street equals less ridiculous willy-waving and ego and greed inspired risk-taking’, said Melissa Whitworth in The Telegraph (2010); and New York Magazine ran the headline ‘What if women ran Wall Street’, hypothesising that ‘having women around… prevents extreme behaviour—or irrational exuberance’ (New York Magazine 2010).
In this seminar – the first of a BIGS series on Gender and Austerity – Louise Owen and Kate Maclean discuss their work on gendering representations of the financial crisis, with a focus on popular culture responses to this notoriously complex event, that has – some have argued – constituted a coup d’état. Louise will explore two well-known theatrical responses to the crisis, Lucy Prebble’s Enron (2009) and David Hare’s The Power of Yes (2009), examining their approaches to the category of gender, and the role these play in mediating understandings of (post)industrial transformation. Kate will look at cinematic responses to the crisis, specifically the corporate drama Margin Call (2011) and the comedy The Other Guys (2010), focussing in particular on gender, risk and the construction of the ‘Wall Street Alpha Male’. The event will be Chaired by Lynne Segal, who will discuss the significance of these analyses to how the ensuing recession and austerity measures have disproportionately affected women.