Carmon does a good job of putting Romney’s BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN in the proper context. On the one hand, the binders remark came in the context of Romney running out the clock because his offer to American women facing ongoing employment discrimination is nothing. (His offer to women more generally is to make things much worse.) It’s worth noting as well that when Romney repeatedly asserts that the job of regulators is not to regulate, that includes civil rights laws. On the other hand, Obama was surprisingly good, making it clear that reproductive freedom is also an issue of economic equality — a truth all too rarely heard from elite male political leaders.
And Matt is also correct that Romney’s utter indifference to discrimination against women is a logical outgrowth of his reactionary conception of the role of women in society more generally:
I am favorably disposed toward both full employment and flexible workplace scheduling. But what Romney is saying here is that due to their family responsibilities women are burdened with an inherent disadvantage in the labor market. In conditions of full employment, firms do become desperate for workers and are willing to do things they won’t do in weak labor market. High-margin businesses, for example, hand out raises to competent experienced workers. And firms of all kinds take risks on people they wouldn’t otherwise go for—those who lack formal credentials, those who might have had legal problems in the past, smart people who seem to lack experience, and so forth. Romney’s suggestion is that a woman—at least a woman with a family—is basically like a high school dropout with a felony conviction in his background. A marginally employable worker who’ll get a job if and only if the labor market is super-tight. After all, everyone knows mom needs to be home at 5:00 to start cooking dinner.
But maybe dad should cook dinner!
This reflects a persistent problem for conservatives, who seem to think that pay inequities may reflect discrimination, or they may reflect the fact that women have greater domestic responsibilities. But women being assumed to have more domestic responsibilities is sexism!