September 26, 2011


The September issue of “Vogue” features a profile of Christine Lagarde, the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is the first women to hold the position. The article recounts the usual vital statistics: married twice and divorced twice, currently living with a mystery man and is the mother of two grown sons.  As “Vogue” is a fashion magazine, there’s some talk about her dress style, Chanel being her favorite, but by reading between the lines, one can glean how hard she has worked to be accepted by the old boys’ financial network and how careful she has been to present herself in a way that poses no threat to them. As the author, Eric Boman writes:

          “Altogether, she conforms to a profile common to women who project a steady hand and a cool head and are therefore acceptable to men as leaders of male-dominated organizations…”

(Yahoo Images)

Though she has shown she can play the mens’ game, Christine Lagarde may yet prove to be less orthodox than the men surmise. She has already announced plans to encourage gender diversity at the IMF (“Vogue” 9/11 pg. 708), and has been quoted as saying that left to themselves men are apt to make a mess of things.

I suspect, however, that this canny woman knows there are limits to her heresies if she wishes to breathe the Olympian air. Still, something she said at the end of her profile piece struck me as having the kernel of a genuine revolution, female style.

          “…more women should raise their sons to respect and like women.  Men, at the end of the day, are the sons of their mothers.”

Rather than tackle gender bias in the workplace, Largarde suggests efforts should begin in the home while toddlers are still in their diapers. To teach boys to like women, as opposed to needing them, is how a culture could change. The first woman to write that instruction manual would sell more books than all other women’s liberation literature combined.