Binders Full of Malarkey: A ~30 yr old, intelligent woman’s opinion

5 years ago

It’s maddening that at this critical juncture in America, headlines, tweets, and commentary are focused on sound bites. (Thus the title of this piece – with those keywords alone it should get picked up, right?) 

So let’s take that now infamous binders comment and drill down to the substance.

The question was:

In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”

If you read the transcript and its obvious neither candidate answered the question.  But I suppose that’s just the nature of these campaigns…

President Obama talked about being raised by a single mother and his grandmother who didn’t have a college education, was smart as a whip, worked her way up but hit a glass ceiling. And then there was this comment, which I’m baffled got no attention given the implication that the question was a complaint by our generation:

“She didn't complain. That's not what you did in that generation.”

To Obama’s credit, he did reference something related to pay equality – the Lily Ledbetter bill.  But that was in the past Mr. President. It hasn’t fixed the problem, and the question about new ways to rectify the situation. After a tangent about college education affordability (not the topic Mr. President), it was Romney’s turn.

‘Kudos’, I thought to myself about his administration leading the nation in women in senior leadership positions, ‘but how are you going to implement that nationwide and fix the problem?’

To his credit he talked about what he’d done to achieve this – pushing recruitment of females leading to an abundance of qualified female candidates (e.g. binders full of them).  Perhaps not the most eloquent way to say ‘there were many qualified female candidates’, but so what? His point was that when he looked for them, he found them, and flexible schedules allowed him to actually hire them. 

In terms of actually answering the question, it might have been better stated as, ‘I would lead from the front, set an example for the rest of America, and recruit from as wide of pool as possible  – men and women – in order to find the best candidates.  (And heck, maybe even pull out those old binders as a starting point!) I will also put my model of flexible schedules and open communication about female candidates needs out there for others to replicate.’

Those are great , but not necessarily a solution. The real meat of Romney’s response was this (unfortunately lost in binders full of tweets):  when we fix the economy, employers are going to be so anxious for good workers, that the free market will rectify the inequality.

What Romney said had merit, and this binders distraction is simply that.

Where is the outrage about President Obama’s somehow thinking a response incorporating Planned Parenthood was relevant to the question was pay equality for women.  Personally, I hope the government stays out of my vajayjay entirely. 

In the end, speeches and sound bites aren’t going to fix our problems. There is obviously merit to making sure the person we elect to the Presidency can represent us well on stage, camera, etc, but we’re past that test of these candidates.  Less than 30 days away from the election, we have a big choice on our hands, one that should be informed by reflection on the whole of what is said, and the policies behind it, because four years from now, whether they said binders or malarkey, I doubt we’ll care.  

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