Last week, I watched the second Presidential debate with one eye on the tv and the other eye on Twitter. My method of coping with political circuses is to live-snark the whole event. Which is why I was only half paying attention as Mitt Romney bragged about selecting cabinet members from “binders full of women”. My Twitter feed immediately blew up with binder gags and a friend on Facebook lamented that a Binders Full of Women Tumblr had already been started before he could do it himself. Before long that Tumblr sported a shot of the late Patrick Swayze captioned “Nobody puts Baby in a binder”.
Hell to the yeah, Johnny Castle. No one puts Baby in a binder because Baby is a person who shouldn’t be categorized by her gender.
As a feminist mom of a baby girl, I tread a delicate balance of wanting to instill my ideas of equality and opportunity in her but not engage in outright brainwashing her with my most closely held beliefs. I will need to let her find her own way in life as she grows up and I can’t expect her to share 100% my sensibilities. If she takes away one feminist value in the years I spend raising her, I want it to be this: I flatly reject the thesis that anyone’s lifepath must be dictated by gender and that anyone must accept a particular type of treatment based on gender.
In other words, I don’t want my baby placed in any kind of binder full of women. I want her in a binder full of people.
The world I want for my daughter is one where everyone is judged, as Dr. King said, on the content of their character. Where being a woman is neither a negative nor a positive, but rather just a data point. Neutral. Significant only to her prom date, not her employer.
Mr. Romney’s brag-fest about his binder full of women and his appointments of female cabinet members shows just how far we have to go before women aren’t considered tokens. Before we stop adding gender as a qualifying or disqualifying attribute. Before women are judged simply as people, not as women first.
We need go get beyond seeing gender first because I can tell you right now that my daughter is going to be amazing on her own merits. I can see in her small, wise eyes that she will be smart and courageous and witty and creative. She will add something spectacular to any room she enters. And NOT because she’s a girl. Just because. I want the world to see that about my daughter. I want the world to see that about all of our daughters.
No one puts our babies in binders.
Photo credit: Binders Full of Women
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