Monica Yant Kinney: Putting Romney's 'binders full of women' in a song

(Signe Wilkinson / Staff)
(Signe Wilkinson / Staff)
Posted: October 19, 2012

Jill Biden may yet form an all-girl band called "Binders Full of Women," as she vowed Tuesday night on Twitter, but Philly cabaret crooner Johnny Showcase has already penned a little ditty about Mitt Romney's instantly infamous debate gaffe.

"I got a binder, a binder full of women, big as a pool for me to swim in," Showcase warbles on a homemade video posted at johnnyshowcase.blogspot.com. "I got a binder, cause I'm a job provider, who says that the gender gap got wider, if you've got a vaginder."

Showcase wrote and recorded his campy campaign contribution within two hours of the closing statements. Biden didn't beat him to it because, like millions of women across America, the vice president's accomplished English professor wife probably spent the night smarting over the notion that we are objects to be acquired and squired under a man's armpit.

If you missed the town-hall hullabaloo, an undecided voter asked the candidates to explain their positions on gender inequality given that, on average, women earn just 72 cents for every dollar men make.

President Obama spoke of being raised by strong, working women and reminded the audience that he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on his first day in office.

Romney recalled his time as Massachusetts governor, when advisers said only men had "the qualifications" to serve in his cabinet. The pol said he asked in puzzlement, "Well, gosh, can't we find some women that are also qualified?"

So began the great lady hunt, netting the very married man "whole binders full of women."

Wouldn't that hurt?

Seconds after Romney's remark, women swarmed Twitter and Facebook, laughing and lashing out.

"Can't talk," I warned a friend, "stuck in a Trapper Keeper."

"Nobody puts Baby in a binder," quipped a movie buff channeling Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.

"Romney still uses binders? LOL," typed a commenter imagining the inner thoughts of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton texting on a smartphone.

Good point, Madame Secretary. When's the last time any modern woman used a hole punch?

The morning after, I tried explaining the Internet meme to my third-grade daughter.  

Me: "So he said he had a binder filled with women."  

Jane: "What's a binder?"  

Me: "You know, you can keep big stacks of paper in them."  

Jane: "The things with three rings? (Pause.) Wouldn't that hurt?"

Angry and giddy

Yes, Jane, your friends may say, "Girls rule, boys drool," but only one of those statements is true.

At the same time Obama acknowledged that many mothers (including me) are the breadwinners for their families, male politicians still seek to control our bodies. At another point in the debate, Romney suggested that single mothers were responsible for gun violence, ignoring all the mass murderers raised in traditional two-parent households.

For the record, it was women like Jesse Mermell who put the now-famous binders together back when she led the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus. The nonpartisan group recruited and vetted potential appointees - "like a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval" - to nudge more diverse hiring by a governor who inexplicably knew no women worthy of serving him.

"To be perfectly clear," Mermell said in a Wednesday conference call organized by the Obama campaign, "Mitt Romney did not request those resumés."

Watching the debate at home in South Philadelphia, actor/performer David Sweeny - a.k.a. Johnny Showcase - tapped his inner gal pal and began "strumming my ukulele and humming" when Romney dropped the binder bomb.

"I have a wife, we would love to have kids, and I was just dumbfounded," Sweeny told me. "I imagined him standing before a tank full of women or looking at a catalog saying, 'Ohhhhh, she looks like a woman!' It just made me so angry and giddy. The only way to do it justice was to sing a song."


Contact Monica Yant Kinney at 215-854-4670, myant@phillynews.com, or follow @myantkinney on Twitter. Read her blog at philly.com/blinq.

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