LOCAL SPIN: Binder Baby
Romney to women: Get your asses in the kitchen.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
I had an almost violent verbal argument (OK, as violent as two reasonable adults can get on Facebook) with a dear old friend (my former dot-com-era writing partner) a few weeks back over the subject of Marissa Mayer.
As a fast primer, Mayer at age 24 became Google’s first female engineer. She was employee No. 20 and ran the behemoth’s search division, the prime reason the company exists. Now 37, she’s a millionaire a few hundred times over, a philanthropist who sits on a variety of arts-related boards, and a geek’s geek who as a Stanford University student used to stay up all night writing code as she worked her way towards bachelor’s and master’s degrees in symbolic systems and computer science.
A few months ago, she stunned the geek and business worlds alike when she announced she was leaving Google to become CEO of Yahoo, the lackluster Internet company founded when Mayer was still a teenage Stanford student. Her new job: dragging Yahoo back to relevancy. A few days after that announcement she made another one, tweeting “Another piece of good news today.” She was six months pregnant, and she and her husband were expecting a boy.
Talk about a shit storm. Suddenly Mayer’s womb, and how she planned to parent what was inside it (she said she would take only a few weeks maternity leave, and work during it), was everyone’s business, including my old friend. When her baby was born in late September, he had this to say: “Now that her baby is here, one can only wonder if she really has her priorities straight. Methinks that she’ll pay a major price for being so cavalier about what it means to be a parent. It is simply not possible to simultaneously raise an infant and run a billion-dollar corporation.”
And that’s when my head exploded. “What,” I asked, “should her priorities be, and why should her priorities be any different because she has a vagina?”
He accused me of trying to stir the pot, that what he said was not gender specific and that he’d say the same of a male CEO. I called BS, because nobody ever – ever – says the same of a male CEO. I also told him, after a half-dozen exchanges, that he, a seemingly enlightened guy with a teenager, a pre-schooler and a brand new baby himself, wasn’t making any sense.
And lack of sense brings me to Mitt Romney, Binder Master.
Asked during the Tuesday debate how he would rectify workplace inequalities, specifically the fact that women make only 72 percent of what male counterparts earn, Mittens waxed poetic about putting together his cabinet as governor of Massachusetts, and finding most of the applicants were men. How he coped? He reached out to various women’s groups, he said, which sent him “whole binders full of women.”
That’s not the best part. That came about a minute later, when Romney said this: “I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible.” His chief of staff, for example, said she wanted to get out of work at 5pm to make dinner for her kids, and darn it, he was going to be supportive of that.
It made one of my friends wonder whether Romney even realized he was being insulting. He blew off answering the equal pay question completely by telling women they should have the flexibility to go home to their kids – and further perpetuating the myth that women don’t work as hard as men, that all working women have or want kids, and that men don’t want or need to get home to their families too. And when it came to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 – the first bill Obama signed, which allows women greater rights to sue over pay inequity – one of Romney’s own advisors said that while Romney wouldn’t repeal the act if elected, he was never in favor of it.
Fellow breeders (hell, fellow non-breeders too), do you need any more evidence that Mittens is not your friend? During the debate, he said every woman in America should have access to contraceptives, and that employers should not be able to tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Go back to March, when Sen. Roy Blunt introduced a bill that would allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage to workers, and Romney was Blunt’s cheerleader. “Of course I support the Blunt amendment,” he said. “I clearly want to have religious exemption for Obamacare.”
Romney’s former second-in-command, Mass. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, told the press that Romney wants to be judged on his whole record regarding women’s issues. So let’s do that, right after we get our asses back in the kitchen and try to make ends meet with less pay for equal work.