Mitt Romney is being criticized for his comment about obtaining binders full of women’s names to choose from for political appointments when he was governor of Massachusetts. Even though I am not a Romney fan I do not see the harm in what he said or did. There is a male culture in politics, and where it may not be “politically correct” to say the consideration of women for staff roles is thinking outside the box, it doesn’t mean that thinking outside the box isn’t exactly what needs to be done to alter the paradigm.
When I was born, we were a nation on the cusp. We were on the cusp of women’s liberation, and women as a force in the workplace. With this rise of women and all the effort given to prepare them and position them for equality, why were men left out of the transition plan? Perhaps it is because in a male dominated society, men are the oppressors and women are the oppressed. Therefore it is better to conquer us than be responsible for transforming us.
I am not and have never been a male chauvinist, but reconciling how to be a man and gentleman as my mother and father reared me, with how women expect to be treated today is a challenge that at times makes me feel lost at sea. My parents’ generation had much better defined gender roles that they adjusted with partial success to accommodate the coming era. Women’s liberation was a revolution and not a revelation, and so women were the first and only priority within the movement. To this end, my parents had to teach their daughters to be independent and self-sufficient in the hopes that they would prosper amid this revolution, meanwhile rearing their sons in a more traditional since.
For the most part, women of today seem focused on and comfortable in the role of bread winners, workers, and leaders. Meanwhile men have become a jumbled mass comprised of those that are part of gender equality, those that are chauvinists, and those that are social dinosaurs. I am not sure that the relatively small portion represented by the chauvinist will ever be eliminated, but they and their effect will be minimized. We social dinosaurs will take care of ourselves as we are committed to self-extinction, begging for a metaphorical meteor to collide with our world and release us from our evolutionary dead end. We dinosaurs are the men helping to rear and encourage a unified gender view for a better world, while balance how things are with the siren call of ancient genetic memories that whisper into the primitive regions of our brains, “Provide, protect, procreate…”
We dinosaurs find it both fair and necessary for the world’s survival for it to change in this way, but it is difficult for us to deny the ancient concepts of hunter-gatherers and nesters. We still open doors for women even though those who recognize the gesture often think of it as patronizing, and those who are unfamiliar with the act sprint for the open door as if it were simply a limited time offer. We still stand when a lady leaves the table or enters the room, an action met with confusion for all but a few. We still use ma’am as a term of respect, usually to be rebuffed, and accused of making the woman on the receiving end feel “old.”
Democrats (who I have primarily voted for) have been conditioned to their platform of equality of the sexes (derived from the need for a political advantage), while Republicans have been slower to come around. They want to embrace women into their ranks, but many just do not know how. Older established Republicans, I consider to be among my ranks of dinosaurs moving things along ploddingly and inevitably even though there is no place for us in the resulting landscape. So it is a mystery to me with all the other issues of substance out there, why Mitt Romney should be mocked because he made an honest effort to be inclusive. It was an old fashioned approach, not as contemporary in thought as many would want, but I believe he was doing the best he could under the context of how he was reared and the world he grew up in. For Romney, it was probably even a “liberal” thing to do.
Today women occupy high levels of government and business not out of the need to meet quotas, but because they deserve it and are the ones most worthy of those positions. The pace has been too slow on equal pay, and women need to be more readily lumped into the general hiring population rather than looked at as a special segment. These things are being addressed, sometimes with reluctance, sometimes with passion, but they are being addressed. Mitt in his plodding dinosaur way was trying to demonstrate this, and deserves credit for it. Since my birth, a great deal of progress has been made and I feel the greatest strides taken. What remains are loose ends and detail work that will only be accomplished in the passage of time. We will recognize the completion of this societal metamorphosis, the spreading of the butterfly’s wings when we stop counting heads, when our candidate binders are filled with the resumes of people and not men and women, when the red necks have been subdued, and when we dinosaurs die off leaving a better planet in our well worn tracks.