If you watched the second US presidential debate last night I've got four words for you: "binders full of women." (If you didn't watch the debate, here are a few more words for you: In response to a question about equal pay for women, Romney told moderator Candy Crowley that while he was governor of Massachusetts, he sought qualified women for his administration by going to "a number of women's groups asking, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women." Yeah.)
Binder? I hardly know 'er!
During a 90-minute peacocking session—Candy Crowley, you deserve a medal for moderating that alpha brofest—that was filled with sound bites, "binders full of women" is the one that stuck. And it stuck hard. At the time of this post (three hours post-debate), a widely shared Tumblr, Twitter account, and Facebook group were already up, running (200,000+ fans), and hilarious.
It's Ladies Night (in my binder)!
So why the binders meme? Well for starters, Mitt Romney is not exactly known as a champion of women. In fact, over the course of his unending campaign, he's proven himself to be quite the opposite. And like so many questions he's dodged so far, instead of answering the question about equal pay, Romney pulled an anecdote out of his ass about a time he used his largesse to help one person/a binder of people. A nice story, but hardly a Trapper Keeper full of fairness and equality.
As Emma Keller puts it, "The [binder] phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration—that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back. And it turns out the way Romney presented it—that he asked for a study of women in leadership positions—wasn't true anyway." She's right; it wasn't.
Three rings to rule them all.
Like Romney's Big Bird comment from the first debate, his statement was asinine AND picturing "binders full of women" (or the firing of a giant bird) is also funny. And since—despite so much gum-flapping to the contrary—many feminists are really fucking funny, a delightful meme was born. Delightful because it pokes fun at the Romney campaign while reminding people that the wage gap is realer than Candy Crowley's moderating skills and Mitt Romney is a misogynist who wants to restrict the rights of the women he's got trapped in those binders. That hypocrisy, and the way the Romney binder jokes underscore it while making us laugh at the same time, is why this photo of Hillary Clinton is the most popular version of the meme yet:
FWIW, binders can be useful if they are filled with paper and not, say, women.
Mitt Romney has ignored women and women's issues at every turn of his campaign, and he can't expect to talk a semi-good binder game at this point and get away with it. Using women as a talking point to get votes when you're planning on throwing women's rights under the bus is not okay, and the whip-smart funny women of the Internet aren't letting Romney get away with it. Another example of this righteous bullshit-calling is this SchlepLabs video from Monday where Rosie Perez calls Romney to task for saying he'd have it easier if he were Latino:
Mitt Romney doesn't care about women, and the women of the Internet are using humor, smarts, and technology to prove it. In an election cycle that is downright depressing for feminists, memes like these are the silver lining in the War on Women cloud.
Now, who wants to wear a binder with me for Halloween?