So I really feel like I should be one of the last ones to weigh in on Mitt Romney’s infamous “binders full of women” response during the last debate before the next debate. Katherine Fenton asked the candidates what they would do to equalize the pay gap between men and women, because, even in the most “progressive” of states (which aren’t that progressive because hey, women still don’t earn an equal wage), women only make 80 cents to the dollar when they are in the same positions as men. And Mitt Romeny stated that when he was Governor in Massachusetts, he found that he was having a hard time finding qualified female candidates (perhaps because he wasn’t looking in the right places) and an outside group brought him “binders full of women.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, Romney goes on to say
I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
Where do I start?! OK, so binders full of women brings up images that I have of Don Draper looking at Playboy magazines while drinking whiskey or brandy and smoking a cigar at Bain, I mean, the ad agency that he works at. And he didn’t even amass the binders himself. MassGAP, a non profit organization committed to gender equality, compiled the information for him and presented it to him when he was elected governor. The number of senior administration women in the Romney administration declined by approximately 3%. And this is where the flexibility commentary comes into play.
Can’t everyone see how sexist that is? Why is family flexibility a woman problem in what Romney was assuming was a heterosexual partnership? Family flexibility is a family issue – it doesn’t have a gender to it. It isn’t a female problem or a male problem. it’s a partnership problem that should and must fall equally on both parents/partners/guardians/whatever in order for everything to work. And it’s just plain unrealistic and sexist and elitist to think otherwise. At the very least, it doesn’t show that Mitt is tuned into the lives that many, many families lead – which isn’t in and of itself a new concept I guess (47% anyone?).
Mitt Romeny falls so flat on issues that relate to women in the workforce and families. It’s hard to see that he’d be good for anyone except for people that are like him.