Beyond The Double-Binders: Putting Women in Their Place in 2012

Of course the minute Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said the phrase, social media exploded. And women’s issues, which didn’t get nary a mention at the first debate on Oct. 3, were front and center Tuesday night as the first woman in 20 years – CNN’s Candy Crowley –ably moderated–dare I say ‘held court’ at the town hall forum at Hofstra University.

Governor Romney said the phrase while answering a question that first went to President Barack Obama about inequalities in the workplace and fair pay for women.The governor recounted his days as Massachusetts governor and how he wanted to hire some women – and not all men – for his cabinet.
I knew where he was going–trying to make his case that he wanted to hire women. But his way—he said, “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.” Yes, no doubt there are whole binders, truckloads full of them, of qualified women.

And there it was, the “soundbite” of the debate. The audience was picturing women inside of the binders (the rhetoric of containment) and I was thinking about Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s famous  Beyond the Double Bind  book.

Oh those binds that tongue-tie us, Gov. Romney! I actually felt a little sorry for him. The intention was there. But instead, he reminded me (and others) that women are ‘other’ and that we have to get into the huddle more (as Pat Schroeder told me when I interviewed her once) in order to make Jamieson’s double binds moot. Jamieson wrote that women face these binds when it comes to leadership:
1. Womb/Brain
2. Silence/Shame
3. Sameness/Difference
4. Femininity/Competence
5. Aging/Invisibility
The more women who get into the huddle, the more we throw the book at the double binds that keep us filed away.

1 Response to “Beyond The Double-Binders: Putting Women in Their Place in 2012”

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