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Binders full of mothers: The working woman in Romney’s world

17/10/2012

Twitter was on fire during last night’s debate after Republican candidate Mitt Romney told a young woman his administration’s strategy for employing women was getting “binders full of women” to choose from for cabinet positions they had not originally applied for. In a matter of moments, #bindersfullofwomen was everywhere: Twitter accounts, Tumblrs and President Obama’s campaign already has released a video about it.

Romney’s speech about women in the workplace upset me greatly, but here’s the thing: It wasn’t because of #bindersfullofwomen, it was what he said after:

I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they 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 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 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.

Romney failed in addressing women’s issues in the workplace because he automatically associated working women with motherhood. Let me make this clear: Not all working women are working mothers.

Take me, for example. I am a professional working woman who is unmarried and has no children. I have put marriage and family aside so I can focus on my career. The fact that Romney followed his #bindersfullofwomen statement with the fact that women need more flexible schedules for their families insulted me as a working professional. This means Romney doesn’t really understand women as individuals and what they want out of life.

Right now, I am focused on making a difference in the world through my choice of profession. I want to punch the daily clock, earn an honest wage and contribute to society. By combining my needs as a working professional with the needs of motherhood, Romney disregards all I have worked for and continue to work for.

It reinforces the stereotype that all women want is to get married and have babies. For many women this is not true, and it’s one of our biggest societal hurdles to overcome.

President Obama said women sometimes need advocacy for equal pay “because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family.” While the fact that he mentioned “family,” again, insults me as a single professional woman, President Obama’s acknowledgment of women being the “breadwinners” was encouraging. I may not have a family, but I am my own breadwinner — and proud of it.

I am extremely impressed by working mothers and the struggles they go through to balance work and family, and applaud efforts to assist them in any way possible. But I do not support politicians who insult all working women by lumping them in the same category of needs. It’s bad for both working women and working mothers.

I don’t need a politician telling me he’ll make sure I have flexible hours for the kids I don’t have. I need a politician who will support my professional choices and give me the chance to fight for a fair wage, should the need ever arise.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a — a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that — that they would otherwise not be able to — to afford. — Romney

I am a woman, not a baby maker. Don’t put me in the motherhood binder.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. emperorbailey permalink
    22/10/2012 20:33

    I didn’t feel like that comment Romney made equated to “this is what all women are like, and what they all want.” It was one example of one employee he had. It fits within my “benefit of the doubt” threshold.
    What bothered me more, however, was that his binder-hiring comment was in response to a question about *equal pay for women.* He never actually made a single statement in response that could be construed to address equal pay for women. Obama got up and talked about a real bill he actually signed. It made Romney look like he either had never thought about women’s pay before, or he actively didn’t want to do anything to equalize it (“let the market decide,” right?) but didn’t want to explicitly say so to the crowd/voters.
    It was one of the most telling distinctions in the debate.

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