more machine now than man

10/18/12

Can I just say something about Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” thing? Maybe it’s my own buried sexism, or not sweating the details of conversation, but if 45 of my friends on various social media outlets hadn’t freaked out, I WOULD NEVER HAVE THOUGHT HE SAID SOMETHING WRONG.

Honestly, didn’t we all know what he was talking about? Hell, when I was Senior Fellow in various dot-com companies, I looked at binders full of prospective employees all the time. Whenever we cast for theater, film or TV, we get a binder for each role, full of headshots and resum├ęs. In the case of a female lead, we most definitely have “binders full of women”.

Of course I’ve been enjoying the fallout of the “binder” meme, because anything that gets in the way of Mitt Romney being president is sauce for the gander, but in my heart of hearts, doesn’t anybody wish this was actually about sexism rather than semantics?

For a powerful body-blow in this very genre, check out Virginia’s excellently indignant take of the real problem. Point is, if all you got from the debate was a tumblr meme, then fucking social media isn’t doing its job.

To me, the very essence of Romney – and indeed, this 1% we hear so much about – was crystalized in this debate. The truly rich and truly entitled in this country believe that the rules don’t really apply to them. I mean, they “apply”… (wink, nudge, shit-eating smirk)… but at the very least, the side door will be left open, the tickets will be in a special envelope at Will Call, and this last one is on the house.

Romney steamrolled, interrupted, and broke the main rule of the debate (“no direct questions to the other debater”) within 5 minutes of the opening klaxon. He had no respect for either moderator or opponent. And one of his sons, all of whom had the murderous rage-filled faces of missionaries playing violent hoops with me on their P-days, actively thought about taking a swing at the President.

You only contemplate that if a) you’re an asshole, and b) if you fundamentally believe yourself to be above the rules, and harbor a resentment that is about twelve synapses away from using the word “uppity” and another that starts with “n”.

So if you’re going for debate decorum and true ugliness masquerading as a blunder, you can do a lot better than “binders full of women”. The Romneys just make it all so easy.

menacing-josh-romney-bond.jpg

[UPDATE: fixed Virginia’s column link. Honestly, why would Yahoo put quote marks in a URL, meaning it couldn’t be pasted into another outlet for sharing? – ed.]

0 thoughts on “more machine now than man

  1. Srinath

    I agree with the explosion of attention to such a stupid idea. Gravitating toward meme’s is great for comical relief. But it waters down all the bullshit that is coming out like a fire hose. What has happened to consistency establishing trust?

    Reply
  2. Sef

    Indeed, it’s been a challenge to explain to Latvians why the binder comment is significant. Which clarifies how, any time you’re required to explain something that in the end doesn’t say much, you can obfuscate the more important argument. Social media can be fun, but the oversimplification of things is often not great.

    Reply
  3. Sean

    1) Women are not things that are kept in binders, resumes are. Memes only pop up when they make sense in terms of a larger narrative. Clint Eastwood yelling at a chair made sense because the Republicans have decided to attack a version of the President based on invention, i.e. someone who doesn’t actually exist. Republicans see women as objects, particularly objects that can be kept in a secure location, silent, until needed. That’s the narrative and why the meme works.
    2) “Meme” is just another version of an inside joke. Why is “NoTrons” funny as a slang term for breasts? Because it’s a commentary on a) fratboy assholes invented slang terms for body parts, b) asshole fratboys switching words around to sound cool and c) the fact that “Nortons” is just an absurd name for… for *anything* let alone breasts. When six guys do it on McCauley Street it’s an inside joke, when 60,000 people do it on Twitter, it’s a meme.

    Reply
  4. kent

    While it is true that women’s groups presented binders full of resumes from qualified women — they did so for both candidates for Government, before the election was decided. Verified fact.
    Which means another thing that’s wrong with Romney — he made up everything about that narrative except the binder itself.
    I’m beginning to think that he’s either a very bad Mormon, or that when it comes to white guys in positions of authority, the church must think lying is OK.

    Reply
  5. Tammy O.

    It is actually about sexism, not just semantics. Women have been at the receiving end of an unbelievable litany of bullshit from the Republican Party for the past couple of years. It’s not frustrating. It’s maddening. Romney’s non-answer to the question of pay equity at the debate was hollow, clueless and offensive — and handed frustrated creatives out there a beautiful opportunity to skewer him for his gender politics. (Also, to many ears, this type of statement underscores just how much Mitt is part of the old white boys club). Sharing this meme has been like a collective, “Aren’t you sick of this crap?” served up with a side of comedy awesomesauce.
    “Point is, if all you got from the debate was a tumblr meme, then fucking social media isn’t doing its job.”
    I don’t really even know what this means. Social media didn’t invent the soundbite. It doesn’t have a mission. What job is social media supposed to provide, other than to provide us with more technologies/channels to communicate? I, for one, was actually pretty impressed at how much quickturn fact-checking and discourse was occurring about all the debate topics during and after the debate on social channels. And yet, I can’t tell you how great it was when someone posted “Nobody puts my baby in a binder” on my Facebook page. You were talking about how awesome cat and dog memes are on this blog a couple of days ago, and yet you expect this set of technologies to automatically elevate our discourse about politics? At its core, the “binders full of women” meme is clever, pointed and hilarious, which is what makes memes stick.

    Reply
  6. sbw

    I’m surprised nobody called him out for more obvious sexism a little later in his remarks: He gave himself a pat on the back for allowing the women more flexible schedules.
    Because, y’know, the womens have to skip out of work to raise them babies.
    He didn’t speak to pay equity. Instead, he tried to get credit for practicing affirmative action when, in fact, he closed the Mass. office of affirmative action at that same time. Worse, he promoted the old canard that women’s duties in the home make them less reliable employees.
    That’s far more blatant sexism than the binder thing.

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  7. Ian

    WHOA!
    I’m quite overly aware of the blatant sexism of Mitt Romney, which is why I put the link to Virginia’s excellent piece on Yahoo, so that I wasn’t repeating all the things she’d articulated so well. But there’s a reason her piece – and my blogs – aren’t on social media in full, because they’re too long and contain too many subjects, verbs and objects.
    So what we’re left with is a picture of Patrick Swayze that says “NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A BINDER”, which is awesome, of course, but only serves to confuse election fence-straddlers, and to enrage conservative-leaning voters who think we’re being purposely obtuse to score political points (which is THEIR job). My comment about social media was obviously hyperbole, but what I mean is this: it wasn’t clarifying anything, other than Mitt Romney is a horrible sayer of words.
    Sean, “binders full of women” is a use of synecdoche (or is it metonymy?), the use of a whole to mean a part, like using “Washington” to mean “specific people in government”. As much as a dolt he is, I doubt Mitt thinks women are actually kept in binders.
    My larger point of the blog? Why go after Romney’s SUBTEXT when there’s SO MUCH ACTUAL TEXT to get him with?

    Reply
  8. Bob

    Ian: My larger point of the blog? Why go after Romney’s SUBTEXT when there’s SO MUCH ACTUAL TEXT to get him with?
    This is something Andy Borowitz hammers away at almost daily, in the form of “I’m afraid that paying attention to [something relatively, if not completely, trivial about Mr. X] is going to distract voters from the dozens of legitimate reasons why Mr. X has no business holding public office.”
    As for confusing election fence-straddlers, I’m not sure you could add to the confusion of someone who still can’t quite figure out which candidate is better. There are low-information voters, but now we’re down to the no-information voters.

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  9. jasonsavage

    the soundbite witch hunt is just pathetic.
    put a microphone on any one of us and see how often we say stupid or unintentionally offensive things.
    it’s ridiculous.
    and no, i’m not anti-witch. i’m using an old metaphor. seriously, look at the whole comment. oh great, now there’s a witch meme.

    Reply
  10. John Galt

    This post is one of the more pathetically hilarious things I’ve read following the debate; thanks ever so much for the grins. But not even a single mention of the obvious Obama lie about the Libyan embassy debacle? “I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people… That this was an act of terror.” The truth of the matter is that he and his surrogates all tiptoed around that word hoping that if they don’t mention it, the American people might be fooled into believing he’s accomplished something about the terrorism problem in the last four years. When he took office so much baloney was spread around about how he would improve America’s reputation in the world, but he and his idiotic policies have kept other world leaders laughing in their sleeves about us.
    And for Candy Crowley to pick up a transcript of the Rose Garden speech, on cue from the President, and confirm that he did say the word “terror” in that speech — can you say “collusion”? I didn’t think so. But when you actually read what he said in that speech, he’s caught in his lie. And so is Joe Biden. And Hilary Clinton. And Susan Rice. And… You get the picture.
    Watching that debate it was pretty obvious that Romney was debating against two, and he still won. All the whining about how a Romney presidency will be harmful to women — or any other group (other than perhaps terrorists) — is just stupid. You people are hilarious. All signs show Obama losing big, like George McGovern big, in November. And just watch; Mr. McGovern will hang in there long enough to see it happen too.

    Reply
  11. Caitlin

    Oh John Galt, that’s ridiculous. When people start criticizing the moderator and fantasizing about “collusion”, you know their candidate is in trouble.

    Reply

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