|Within minutes of the infamous remarks being uttered, this Facebook page was launched. |
“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can't we—can't we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”
Mitt Romney, October 16, 2012.
There are good reasons why the interweb was abuzz last night about Mitt Romney's "binders full of women", all of them pointing to a bad, though perfectly justified, debate outcome for the Republican candidate. While it was hardly the only misstep in Romney's testy, truth-challenged performance, it was the distillation of everything that he - and the Republican party - believes about the intrinsic inequality of women to men that makes him the worst possible candidate for women voters.
Before we take a closer look through the window into Mitt's attitude toward women, let's look at what he did not say in his remarks.
Katherine Fenton, a participant in the Town Hall audience, asked this question:
In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?
In response, Governor Romney had this to say:
Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about (but not nearly enough, apparently), particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.
And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified?".
|"Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some |
— some women that are also qualified?"
Gee, Governor, can we?
: Governor Romney succeeded a woman governor, Jane Swift; his lieutenant governor was a woman, Kerry Healey, and his opponent in that gubanatorial race was a woman, Democrat Shannon O'Brien - (fun fact!) whom Romney portrayed literally as a dog in his ads during that campaign. His claim of not being able to "find" qualified women rings particularly hollow in light of his equally false claim of bi-partisanship).
And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.
'What actually happened was that in 2002 -- prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration -- a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected'. David S. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.)
I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.
a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office. Bernstein
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce (like, if you really, really, must have women in the workforce and not, you know, at home with 5 or 6 children, right, Mitt?) 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.
|Or, let's have pay equality and improved|
access to decent child-care for families
so that parents (usually mothers)
are less burdened and can actually
focus on the careers they love without
being forced to "choose" work or family.
(For this nugget of horse hocky, Romney plumbed the depths of cultural gender discrimination by conflating two popular myths
about the reasons for wage inequality: the myth that female employees are inherently
less reliable and not "team players" like their male counterparts and the myth that unless an enlightened employer hands out special privileges and accommodations, women won't even try for demanding, highly-paid jobs, so they don't deserve them. This is a corollary to the ever-popular "women don't ask for equal pay
" myth which studies have proven are false).
We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.
|This is not a "women's issue". Bad Republican policies|
hurt women, men and the families that both women and
men are trying to support.
. The Great Recession caused by the Bush administration and the financial policies - which both enriched Mitt Romney and continue to be the foundation of his financial vision for the country - have been hard on both men and women. Women, who typically have been relegated to the poorest-paying and least secure jobs (except, at least for now
, those in the public sector) have always suffered greater job insecurity. In both single-parent families and in families where women and their partners are struggling together
to make ends meet, this is a serious issue for both men and women, and for most American families. Legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Act
and the Paycheck Fairness Act
might have helped prevent thousands of women and their families from slipping further into poverty, but the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, does not support these efforts, and his party blocked them in Congress).
What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.
(Got that, American women? The Guv promises that if you will just quit asking awkward questions about fair pay and reproductive security and let him get back to business, he will create such a great economy that all those employers out there will overlook your deficiencies and special needs and hire even you
This is what I have done. It's what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.
(Really? "I know what it takes to make an economy work
" What is that, exactly? The question was "How are you going to address inequalities in the workplace?" and you have neither answered that question, nor explained how you expect to create your "new economy". Governor, you're a little too long on "just trust me, you don't need to know what I know
", and much too short on specifics).
I'm going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.
|Actually, Governor, women already know what they need|
to succeed: affordable education, wage parity, reproductive
freedom and social support for American families.
Wait, we already have a president who understands that!
(You still haven't answered the question, Governor. How are you going to float this "stronger economy" within which, we presume, all boats (even those with flighty female skippers) will be lifted? And, again, what are your new ideas to address pay inequity?).
Mitt Romney may or may not actually "know" what needs to be done to fix the economy and to address the inequalities in the workplace, not just for women but also for millions of men who have also been denied a level playing field in the workplace. He may know
, but he has no intention of doing
what it will take.
Working toward economic equality for women - and for most men, too - is not Mitt Romney's goal. It never has been his goal, and it certainly is not the goal of his backers in the moneyed elites. This is a continuation of the 47 % narrative. Romney believes that like his 47% who will never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives", women are not getting good jobs because they don't try hard enough to get them. Romney thinks that like the 47% whom he says "believe they are victims...who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing", women want everything handed to them. He barely hid his opinion that women demand special treatment in the workplace - like the right to leave the office before 7 or 8 in the evening to care for small children; forcing employers to provide "flexibility" like fewer than 60 or 70 hours of time spent in the office each week. "See?" the Governor seemed to say, "I did everything for them, while they did nothing to help themselves."
Romney's blindness to the qualified women who surrounded him during the Gubanatorial race itself and then in the office when he was presented with the "binders" containing resumes of a long list of qualified women - gathered proactively by women's groups in Massachusetts
and not by his own people at his request as he claimed - speaks to his apparent habit of neither seeing nor hearing women as peers in his professional life. His claim that his record of hiring female staff was due to his efforts to "recruit" women, not to the initiative and qualifications of the women themselves, and his whining that one of his female staffers asked for what he clearly considered to be special treatment (shockingly, she wanted a workday that ended before 7 or 8PM!) speaks to both Romney's disrespect for women's abilities and his dismissal of the workplace challenges of parents. Presumably no male staffer would have dared to talk about family obligations at all
, of course. In the conservative Romney culture of rigid patriarchal roles for women and men
, it is women who annoyingly demand special treatment to balance work and family, while men at work must behave as if they have no family obligations at all.
Mitt Romney did not misspeak at that private fund-raiser for his wealthy supporters. He really does believe that at least
47% of Americans are lazy takers who sit around waiting for their government to bail them out of their sloth. Last night, as he struggled to sugarcoat his disdain for women and his disinterest in the question Ms. Fenton asked, everything about Romney - his halting, careful remarks, his patronizing demeanor, his refusal to actually answer the question - pointed to a deeply contemptuous attitude not only toward women, but toward all Americans who are being crushed between the competing demands of scarcer job opportunities (thanks Mr. CEO of Bain, et al) and family responsibilities.
The final irony is that, in a bid to secure more women's votes, Romney threw out the bone of pointedly boasting that he "recruited" women for great jobs in his Massachusett's administration. Such affirmative action
goes against not only the Governor's own professed views
, but it flies in the face of the ideology and agenda of the conservative right wing that supports him. Mitt Romney has attempted to dodge the issue
recently, in the latest of his notorious "flip-flops" - although to be fair, his silence on affirmative action (except when holding it out as a carrot to lure women voters) cannot really be called change. In this case, it is more like concealment of his true intentions while hoping the issue will go away. Too bad that glib tongue ran away with you last night, Governor!
Why the Republican gender gap mirrors women's pay disparity
, Moira Herbst, The Guardian, September 6, 2012.
Mind the Binder
, David. Bernstein, The Phoenix, October 16, 2012.
Presidential debate transcript, questions, October 16, 2012
. Politico staff, October 16, 2012.
Mitt Romney to Gubanatorial Staff: "Find some women that are qualified"
, Christina Wilkie, HuffPost Business, October 17, 2012.
Mitt Romney's "Binders Full of Women" Comment Sets Internet Ablaze
, Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast, October 17, 2012.
Mitt Romney's Binders Full of Women is a Trapper Keeper Full of Lies
, Sarah Jones, PoliticusUsa, October 17, 2012.
In Debate, Romney Struggled on Substance
, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, October 17, 2012.
Romney and the Women Who Still Don't Love Him
, Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, October 17, 2012.
|The frat boy bully Mitt Romney is coldly furious that he was schooled by that ... oops! Is that a camera?|