The Femo: Romney’s binders of women
From memes to tweets, Governor Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” gaffe has gone viral in the days since the second presidential debate. Perhaps most amusingly, Amazon users have posted satirical reviews on the pages of binders and other office supplies. This Internet explosion speaks to the power of social media — but also to the growing frustration with a candidate who seems so out of touch with the modern woman.
This comment was part of Governor Romney’s response to a question concerning pay equity — specifically, that women still make substantially less than men to the dollar. Romney launched into a discussion of his experience in selecting cabinet members once he was elected the governor of Massachusetts. He claims that all the applicants were men, so he went to several women’s groups seeking recommendations for qualified females and thus obtained “binders of women.”
This story has since been debunked; evidently, a coalition of women’s groups sought out Romney, looking to decrease the gender hiring gap. He went on to emphasize his flexibility as an employer, saying that his female chief of staff needed to “get home at 5 o’clock so (she) can be there for making dinner for (her) kids and being with them when they get home from school.”
Governor Romney then highlighted the still-struggling economy, the net job loss and the unemployment rate. He said, “We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy… that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women.”
It is telling that Governor Romney must sidestep a question about fair pay; he has refused to say if he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and in all likelihood, he would not have voted for it. Also telling is that Romney — despite his years as a prominent businessman — did not know any qualified women and had to rifle through prepared binders to locate some.
Not only that, but he lied about the series of events that led him to this binder. The woman Romney used as his example, his chief of staff, unsurprisingly had to be home in time to cook dinner and fulfill her duty as a housewife. Furthermore, Governor Romney seemed to imply that the economy he plans to create would have so many new jobs that they’d resort to hiring anyone — in their desperation for workers, they’d be “anxious to hire women.”
These implications are all insulting and sexist. They underscore the fact that the misogyny of the Republican platform goes far beyond the debate surrounding abortion and birth control.
This is about a general perspective on women and their roles in society. While Governor Romney relegates women to a subordinate status in which their talents and strengths are brought to his attention only by the existence of special binders, President Obama is aligning himself with women and with the modern era: “I’ve got two daughters, and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody’s sons have. That’s part of what I’m fighting for as president of the United States.”
photo of Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore