Sexy Money: The Hetero-Normative Politics of Global Finance


Brassett, James, and Lena Rethel. 2015. “Sexy Money: The Hetero-Normative Politics of Global Finance.” Review of International Studies 41 (3): 429–49.

Authors: James Brassett, Lena Rethel


The article develops a critical analysis of gendered narratives of global finance. The post-subprime crisis equation of unfettered global finance with the excessive masculinity of individual bankers is read in line with a wider gender narrative. We discuss how hetero- normative relations between men and women underpin financial representations through three historical examples: war bond advertising, Hollywood films about bankers, and contemporary aesthetic representations of female politicians who advocate for austerity. A politics emerges whereby gender is used to encompass a/the spectrum between embedded and disembedded finance, approximate to the divide between oikonomia and chrematistics. The apparently desirable ‘marriage’ between the state and finance that ensues carries several ambiguities – precisely along gender lines – that point to a pervasive limit: the myth of embedded liberalism in the imagination of global finance. 

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, International Financial Institutions

Year: 2015

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