You can usually tell a person’s politics just from the language they use. It’s as simple as the difference between saying “illegal immigrants,” versus “undocumented citizens,” or “homosexuals” and “queer people.” Language is powerful and intricate, sets the context through which we have a discussion, and ultimately reveals the depth of our understanding around certain matters. Along this vein, Romney’s gaffe, “binders full of women,” is not only hilariously awkward, but also reveals how uncomfortable and ill-equipped he is talking to and about marginalized groups.
First, it’s worth noting that Romney’s statement was misleading, if not a lie. The “binder” of which he speaks was actually spearheaded by MassGap, a bi-partisan coalition of women’s groups that actually seek to increase governmental employment opportunities for women. It was not some initiative that Romney launched out of his good ol’ affirmatively acting heart. Perhaps the “binder” stands so prominently in his mind because that was the only concrete aspect of his crafted narrative. Romney’s comment was not only objectifying, but allowed him to dissolve the efforts of many individuals into political ammunition. I wonder, is Romney actively lying, or is he so saturated in white patriarchal privilege that he actually thinks thumbing through a binder of potential female candidates shows that he is dedicated to leveling the playing field for women? I shudder to think.
Let us not laugh before we listen. Romney’s latest fumble, his 47% comment, coupled with his repeated offenses to the rest of the world, reveal that Romney would be a president who cannot talk to people. Furthermore, the sheer frequency of his comments reveal that he does not even have the critical intuition to think about what comes out of his own mouth. Employment disparities for women are real, and it’s scary that this was the only answer Romney could think of in response to that question. If this man cannot even listen to himself speaking, who is to say that he can listen to the rest of the country?