I'd be lying if I said I didn't commonly get political on this blog, and I'm about to do that again. Life's political; the way one lives speaks endlessly to who you are and in what you believe. Every dollar you spend is a vote for how you want companies to behave. Each activity in which you participate is a vote for what you see as valuable. The compliments you give show your priorities.
With that particular world view in mind, it might not be surprising that I'm choosing to weigh in on the whole "binders full of women" issue. This simple little comment has spawned Twitter and Tumblr feeds, Facebook groups, and a website, not to mention the hundreds of memes and reviews on Amazon products. There are also people saying that this is all taken out of proportion, and the comment was just a gaffe that meant nothing. So which is it? Is this comment a game-changer for the women's vote in the election, or was it simple off-the-cuff misspeak? While I don't know that it will be a game-changer (I don't have that much confidence in the average US citizen to think critically and analyze at this point), I do think it shows that Mitt Romney has a huge problem with women.
Let's think about the actual phasing of "binders full of women." If you've served on a search committee or hiring committee, you likely have an idea that Romney meant "binders full of resumes of women," and he may very well have meant just that. However, by omitting "resumes" he essentially objectified the women represented by those resumes. A woman- or any person- is not simply the paper that their resume is printed upon, and to use the person and the paper interchangeably is insulting for the person. Similarly, what Romney implies in this statement is that there were separate pools of candidates- the original (male) candidates, and the new (female) candidates, and that this addition was a good thing. In arguing this point, what Romney is saying is very much like affirmative action, an idea that the Republican party is staunchly opposed to and wants to roll back. One could also argue that this was a quota system, which is definitely a bad idea and has been rejected by none other than the Supreme Court of the United States as unconstitutional. At the best, what Romney is saying that he did was against his party's platform, and at the worst it was unconstitutional.
On to an analysis of the background of this story. Romney portrays himself as an extremely capable business person, and much of business is networking. So we're really supposed to believe that there was not a single female in his circle that he could think of when trying to fill cabinet positions in Massachusetts? His experience at Bain might back up this fact, as his record for hiring women there was horrible. The fact that his circle is so insulated as to not include any competent, qualified women is disturbing, quite frankly (and if you want to make the "there are none" comments, then feel free to do that to my face so I can properly refute your idiocy).
Also of note is the fact that his ENTIRE STORY WAS A LIE! Romney did not go out in search of female candidates, and he did not instruct his subordinates to do so, either. The resumes were collected by a non-partisan group MassGAP before Romney was elected. MassGAP brought these candidates' credentials to Romney. They fought for women- not Romney. But this shouldn't be a surprise from a campaign that has stated that they won't let facts get in the way of their election.
On the context of this whole issue, one has to consider what Romney has done for women, and his stances during the debate. In response to the same question (which was on the pay gap), he talked about giving women flexibility in the workplace so they could go home and cook dinner. In his time as governor, the number of women in high office in Massachusetts actually declined. Romney has repeatedly said that he refers to Ann on women's issues, implying that either he doesn't know other women to ask, or that women's issues aren't important enough to him to learn about them himself.
Let's be honest, electing Romney would be a travesty for women in the United States, and would take us backwards, not forwards. If you really want to take women (and the nation) forward, vote for one- Jill Stein of the Green Party.
P.S. On the disturbing side of this debate are the purported "joy books" of the FLDS.