Let’s Get Serious: An Interview with Cynthia Enloe

To accompany Davita Silfen Glasberg’s review of Seriously!: Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered in last month’s Gender & Society, author Cynthia Enloe sat down with SAGE’s Sarah Shinkle to speak about the makings of her book. While not herself an economist, Cynthia Enloe’s book applies feminist theories and concepts to crises such as the banking crash of 2008– how were the ideas of women taken (or not taken) seriously, and what effect does this have on contemorary dynamics of gender?

Read the full review and access the podcast on SAGE’s book reviews page, or listen to the podcast here.

Cynthia Enloe
Cynthia Enloe

“I think like so many of us, we’ve sat in meetings and we’ve watched some woman — if she’s lucky enough to get at the table — say something really smart or useful or thoughtful, and the guys around the table just move right along and never respond. And I think that’s about the politics of who’s taken seriously. So I got thinking about that— I thought, well, feminists can investigate everything… we should all investigate who’s taken seriously, and that means who gets to bestow the idea of seriousness on other people.

I really began thinking about that as a political dynamic that happens in all kinds of settings, and wanted to really pursue under what conditions are women’s analyses, particularly feminist analyses, of all kinds of events and trends and conditions . . . when are they treated by the listeners as if they mattered?”

Seriously!: Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered  (2013)
Seriously!: Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered

“There is something peculiar or at least distinctive going on within the culture of contemporary banking. Because one of the things that so many observers were saying — and these were non-feminist observers — was that the crash was brought on by irresponsible risk-taking. And feminists know that risk-taking is something that is very gendered. . . the celebration of the risk-taker tends to be the celebration of a certain kind of masculinity.”

“It was very interesting to realize that you could ask feminist questions about masculinities in order to reveal how a financial crisis had been created, and it also helped to do it cross-nationally.”