Dear Mr. Romney,
It’s been a little while since you received a letter from a Sprocket Ink writer, so I wanted to take a moment and help you out with an issue from last night’s debate. You unsuccessfully dodged giving an answer regarding your position on the Ledbetter Act—which mandates equal pay for equal work for women under the law—and because I actually wanted to hear you give your position on this, I watched with acute interest.
You didn’t give your position on this important issue, and I’ll get back to that in a minute. First, let me tell you how important this issue is to me (and I believe many other women like me). As my husband routinely likes to point out, I am the breadwinner of our family. That’s not to say he doesn’t work; he does. He only makes a few thousand dollars less than me each year. What’s sad about this fact is that this is a very recent development in our life together.
Also, I’ve been ‘Mommy-tracked’ before. I’ve worked for places where men in comparable positions made thousands of dollars more than me. I’ve been told in job interviews that I am not ideal for the job because the position would require me to be away from my children more than I should be. And let’s be honest; that’s some bullshit right there. I’m a damn good employee, and just because I possess lady bits and have children shouldn’t discount me from making the same as my male peers.
Your answer to the question of your position on the Ledbetter Act was this:
“And I—and I went to my staff, and I said, ‘How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.’ They said: ‘Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.’ And I said: ‘Well, gosh, can’t we—can’t we find some—some women that are also qualified?’ 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.”
Okay. So you didn’t answer the question. That irritates me right there. And you’re actually fibbing; many organizations came to you with their binders full of women demanding that you place women in senior level positions. You didn’t think of it on your own. But what you went on to say about hiring ONE woman from your binders is what infuriated me:
“I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.”
This statement about flexibility in hours (which should not just apply to women, but to ANY parent, despite gender) and your evasion in answering the question at hand lead me to believe that you were trying to state women should not receive equal pay because they can ask for flex time. Because they want to be home to cook dinner for the hubs and the kiddos. Because they have other things they need to be doing AT HOME.
And this is why there is now a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page, and a Tumblr dedicated to your awkward phraseology– it is offensive.
The Guardian actually wrote an interesting piece dissecting your comments to this question, and ultimately stated:
“The phrase objectified and dehumanized women. It played right into the perception that so many women have feared about a Romney administration – that a president Romney would be sexist and set women back.”
Which is why many of us were flabbergasted by your out-of-touch response, and why my dining room table now has a head-sized dent in it.
So, Mr. Romney, I have a proposition for you: I happen to be in possession of lady parts, am heteronormative (so as to not disgust your delicate sexual disposition) and a registered voter. I know a lot of others who are the same. We can sit down with you and have a discussion about why what you said was wrong, and how you might best go about changing your mindset when it comes to women. The only caveat is, I expect to be paid for my time, and at the same rate as you would pay a man.