Before the Internet diverts us to the next bloom of idiocy in this algae pond we call politics, it seems important, nee REQUIRED, to discuss these goddamned binders of women. DON'T RUN AWAY. I really mean it. Let's discuss why this whole thing exploded last night.
What's the big deal, right? As governor, Romney was looking to hire more women. He was presented with women's resumes. He hired some of the women. Why would socialist liberal elitist feminist vaginae get all ramped up about this? Women were given jobs! They were given flex time to take care of their families! Who gives a flying fart about binders when Romney's Massachusetts administration went out of their way to hire qualified women for important jobs? I mean, SHUT UP, INTERNET. Right?
Except, wait. Didn't he just say he needed help finding qualified women to hire? Meaning that all those years he worked at Bain – a tiny little business requiring drastic tax cuts to hire people – he never came across any "qualified" women coworkers? Never any women partners in the business? In his whole professional life he couldn't call on ONE woman to join his cabinet? He had to get outside help to find those resumes for him?
And when asked if he supported fair pay for women, Romney couldn't answer. He wouldn't answer. He didn't answer. He did, however, emphasize that women needing to leave the office at 5 so they can cook dinner for their families was A-OK with him. But you know what? Women aren't the only people in this great nation who know how to make a pot of mac 'n cheese. What if a woman needed to stay at work for a late conference call and her husband had to go home to make the hot dogs? Is he in a binder full of men who make hot dogs? No he is not. Though, to be fair, he may be in a binder of men who have redundant jobs. Or a binder of men whose jobs would be more cheaply filled overseas.
Because here's the thing – the heart of this icky truth – to Mitt Romney you are not a person. You are an asset or you are a liability. If you have a vagina you have a slash against you already. (Sorry.) If you have a vagina and you are raising a child on your own you have many, many marks against you because – as Romney so eloquently stated – you are more likely to raise a violent, gun-loving psychopath.
So what he's saying, underneath all the platitudes and the pandering and the binders, is that women need to be at home taking care of their born-in-hetero-marriage babies. Men need to be working past 5 pm while their dinner is kept warm for them.
He's saying that it's OK for women to get paid .72 on the dollar because they are not the go-to "qualified" applicants for jobs. They only really need jobs when there's such a glut of employment all the men are already taken! That's why he has these binders, you see. Binders of women who can finally be employed because it's finally OK to have someone working who cannot fully commit to a day's work because she has be at home hashing out what to whip up for supper.
He's saying, "Aren't you proud of me, that I'm such a stand up guy I have piles and piles of women's resumes all neatly sorted and collated?"
He's saying, "Isn't it enough that I have these binders? That I know these women exist? Does it even matter that there are more women in the binders than in the workforce?"
He's saying, "I won't pay you equally if you're a girl. Also, I don't like it that the government can assist you if you are a girl, and you aren't making enough money to pay your bills, and you have no partner."
He's saying, "I will strip you of your healthcare, of the preventative measures to help you not birth an AK-47 wielding sociopath. I do not support funding to help teach your children how to adequately protect themselves from becoming single parents. In fact, I do not support the funding to teach your children about anything – unless it's to take a standardized test, drive a tank or fly a bomber."
He's saying, "It's better for babies to grow up violent than it is for them to have a loving same-sex set of parents."
He's saying a lot when he talks about these binders. And I hope you're all listening while you're posting your funny memes to Facebook. It's interesting to me how people glommed on to this binder thing so quickly. I think some people definitely saw it immediately for what it was, and I think others just thought it was funny. But even in just thinking it was funny, there was a deep down unrest. A kind of knowledge on the cellular level that this statement was not just ill-advised, but so much more than that. Because in these easily mockable moments there is a stark truth. And that truth is even if the words come out wrong, the sentiment is there. The sentiment does not get changed. Maybe he could have said "binders full of women" differently. Maybe that asshole from Missouri could have said "legitimate rape" differently. But does it matter?
I am here to offer this answer: NO.
It doesn't matter how it's phrased, because the phrase comes from a notion. And the notion comes from an ideology. And the ideology comes from a deep-seated system of beliefs. And those beliefs are that women are not equal citizens. And as much as these men – these politicians – will argue that this is not what they mean, it is. As much as they talk about sitting at tables across from ordinary Americans, across from the unemployed, across from the under-insured, across from the over-taxed, across from the beleaguered Olympic committees, what they are saying is that there is one thing they look for first: genitalia. And if yours doesn't match theirs, woe be to you.
Put that in your gaddamned binder. And file it under W, right before "Women."
5 thoughts on “Wherein I rail on and on about the b-word and the vaginas that inhabit them”
in which Kari, once again, says it better, and funnier, and truthier, than I ever could.
I think essence of how he feels is why I dislike everything he says, even if I agree with it. Because I know he doesn’t.
He avoids questions. He twists answers. It’s why he’s a popular politician.
But I feel like every time he speak, he’s that oily used car salesman who you have to take your husband to see because you know he’ll try to rip you off as a woman.
Thank you for putting into words how I feel – when I didn’t even know how I was feeling, much less be able to put it into words.
Emotionally charged but I have to agree with your words. The question he had to answer was about equal wages for equal work but he just talked about hiring women like it was affirmative action. Romney’s binders full of women definitely was not an answer to that question. Obama’s Lilly Ledbetter act signing was a very good answer.
Tomorrow I’ll look for your blog on Obama’s answer on this question – and how women’s need for contraception has something to do with equal pay. Maybe the “binder” reference wasn’t as elegant as we’d like. Romney did not invent this problem and I give him credit for taking one tiny step toward some kind of correction, as lame as it may seem.