In A Bind

I’ll admit a couple of things, first off.

Last night, I didn’t watch the second presidential debate. I’ve sadly become cynical about this election. I already have a darned good idea of how I’ll be voting, and it won’t be for the guy talking about…what was it again?…

Women in bondage?

A book of mail-order brides?

Great bookmakers (pun intended and not intended) who happen to be women?

Well, no, I mean this:

ROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women? 

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. 

 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?” 

 ROMNEY: 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. 

 I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

I want to believe that the man had some good intentions. It would be nice, after the past couple of weeks (hell, couple of months, couple of years, couple of millenia – take your pick…but I digress) that women around the world seem to be having.

I need you to get out of bed and go to school this morning for Malala.

Grumbles and a slight roll over from the bed.

 Hala. I need you to get out of bed today, without any whining, without complaining for Malala.

…and then a grumpy, whiny voice comes from under the blankets.

Mom, what are you talking about, what is Malala.

No. Not WHAT is Malala…WHO is Malala.

Malala is a girl, just like you. She lives in Pakistan. And all she wants to do is go to school and learn. She wants to get out of bed every morning and learn. And the other day, she was coming home from school, and horrible men who think she should NOT be allowed to learn shot her. They shot her because she is a girl who dares to think she deserves an education. She dares to think she is just as smart as boys. She dares to think she should get to read every book and do every math worksheet and write every paper and do every report and learn and learn and learn just like every boy in Pakistan. But some of the people there do not believe that girls should learn. Malala stood up to those bullies. She stood up to the mean, horrible men who believe girls should not be allowed to go to school. And she went to school. So you, you will get out of bed, and you will go to school without one whine, without one moan, without one complaint…because you are lucky to live in a country where you CAN.

Slowly my daughter got out of bed. Looking at me with confusion. She got dressed with me watching, and we went into my room where she brushed her teeth and continued to get herself ready for school. So far, she hadn’t said a word. She was still processing everything I had told her. The silence was deafening.

I wasn’t sure I was going to tell her. She is only seven. A seven-year old should be not burdened by the evil in this world. But she is also old enough to understand that she is extremely fortunate to be able to get an education in a world that still does not treat its females with the respect and reverence it treats its males.

Would that this were confined only to Pakistan. It’d be easier to dismiss it as something belonging to another country, or another religion. Another religion…ohhh, I wish I had that smokescreen. While the Obama-Romney debate was finishing up, however, I got this news from a member of the Jewish clergy:

On the eve of the Jewish New Month of Cheshvan, 16.19.12, at 11:00 PM Anat Hoffman, Chair of Women of the Wall, was arrested while leading a prayer along with members of Hadassah, some of whom have travelled to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate Hadassah’s centennial convention. Over 250 women joined Women of the Wall for a late night prayer which started off beautifully, until Hoffman was detained during the Shema prayer. Hoffman was held in police custody for over 12 hours, much of the time in handcuffs and has sustained bruises from violent and aggressive treatment while detained.

This morning, 17.10.12, at 7 AM, while Hoffman was still detained, Women of the Wall gathered for the monthly new month prayer service. Though the services went smoothly and quietly with no disturbance, police arrested Lesley Sachs, Director of Women of the Wall and board member Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, in the middle of prayer. The two women were detained and questioned for several hours. Upon release, the women were asked to admit to the crime of disturbing the public order, which they refused.

In court proceedings today, following her detainment, Anat Hoffman was accused of disturbing the public peace for singing out loud at the Western Wall. She was finally released and issued a restraining order from the Western Wall for 30 days.

The leadership of Women of the Wall remain committed to their struggle to gain the right of all women to pray at the Kotel, each according to her own custom, with Torah, Tallit and voices raised in song. Violence, intimidation and threat will not deter the group of women from joining together and praying together to celebrate every new Jewish month at the Western Wall.

Rosh Hodesh, the celebration of the new month, is sacred to Jewish women. So is their right to pray, to take on the obligations of prayer (tallit, kippot, tefillin) so long reserved only for men, to say the blessings that were meant to be said only by men, to gather and read Judaism’s most sacred text at Judaism’s most sacred site. Their only crime at the Kotel? Doing those things as women.

And then we go right back to Romney.

Sure, I laughed over “binders full of women.” So did most of the internet. So did Tumblr. Hell, I may have helped create the Sacred Krewe of Binder Femmes as a marching bunch via Twitter. Look for lots of 36-to-48-to-50+ inch bindered broads come Halloween in New Orleans.

My question once all our giggles die down…

When do we do something other than make jokes about these acts and these lies?

And in Romney’s case, I DO mean lies.

I know where I can keep on keeping on on all of this. In the voting booth next month.

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12 thoughts on “In A Bind

  1. About Malala, where you say this: >>>They shot her because she is a girl who dares to think she deserves an education. She dares to think she is just as smart as boys. She dares to think she should get to read every book and do every math worksheet and write every paper and do every report and learn and learn and learn just like every boy in Pakistan. But some of the people there do not believe that girls should learn. Malala stood up to those bullies. She stood up to the mean, horrible men who believe girls should not be allowed to go to school. And she went to school. So you, you will get out of bed, and you will go to school without one whine, without one moan, without one complaint…because you are lucky to live in a country where you CAN.<<>>Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it. So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.<<<

    Now THAT last quote is from President Obama speaking IN CAIRO about American values. Frankly I find it shocking you would choose to be offended by a quote from Romney saying that he went out of his way to personally pore over resumes to ensure there were women in his administration over a quote in which our own President of the USA made it his personal business to go to the mideast and speak for us and say that the USA supports just the very kind of oppression of girls and women that makes the kind of thing that happened to Malala possible in the first place.

    With much respect towards you, would love to hear your response to this.

    Thanks.

    • 1) Romney lied about the binder, and about hiring women in that way. If he hadn’t lied about it, then I agree with you, hiring more women who are qualified for the jobs in question using tools that will assist employers in hiring such women is something that should be happening more often.

      2) I did not say that part that you are quoting about Malala, Erin Kotecki Vest said that to her daughter. I don’t have any daughters, only a son. If I had a daughter, I would most likely say something like that to her.

      3) I honestly believe you are missing a forest for some saplings here. Obama was speaking of how religious freedom works in this country with regards to protecting the rights of Muslims. Ever hear of a fellow named Patrick Henry? He once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Personally, I don’t agree with wearing hijab or burqas, but plenty of Muslim women hold fast to the belief that such dress is part of their tradition. I could argue ’til I’m blue in the face with them that hijab is a sign of oppression, but I’m sure they could argue just as strongly that to discard it would be like tearing at a strong religious tradition and expecting it not to rip. Fine.

      BUT where hijab is truly oppressive is in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, places where it is mandatory to wear it or else women face harsh punishments and even death. In countries like Egypt, which sits on a fence about it in relation to its more fundamentalist neighbors, we have to tread lightly when speaking of hijab while still making a point about what we have here in this country. The particular quotation you highlight doesn’t deal with whether or not hijab is wrong, it deals with whether or not we will defend someone’s right to choose to wear it.

      I wish we could dictate to all of these countries currently oppressing women even more than our country does that they should stop it right this second and then they would heed us immediately. We can’t. But we can lead by example. Obama gives us a better chance at that than Romney does, in my opinion.

      • Hi Liprap, I’m good on 1 and 2, that makes total sense and I can live with it.

        On No. 3, I don’t expect that he “dictate” to any foreign country. What I would expect is that he hold up America as a place where women and girls can think for themselves, educate themselves (crazy we even have to discuss such a thing), speak for themselves, dress and live however they like, and advocate the same for other girls and women. When Obama went to the mideast he sent the exact opposite, he turned the idea of freedom for women on its head – wearing the hijab is freedom? Really? Then allow women and girls to wear the hijab as they see fit, which (outside the muslim household (for some to many) mind you, and by law) is how it is in the USA. THAT is the message he should have imparted while IN the mideast, those are American values. It seems to me that he did the very opposite of speaking up for universal women’s rights, quite the opposite, he threw them right under the bus. I think a girl in the mideast (or in an oppressive US household) would be discouraged by such a message and those doing the oppressing (and killing and shooting, as with Malala) would be encouraged.

        Thanks for the response, much respect and love for your work.

  2. For whatever reason that quoting & formatting did not come out clearly, let’s try that again:

    About Malala, where you say this: “They shot her because she is a girl who dares to think she deserves an education. She dares to think she is just as smart as boys. She dares to think she should get to read every book and do every math worksheet and write every paper and do every report and learn and learn and learn just like every boy in Pakistan. But some of the people there do not believe that girls should learn. Malala stood up to those bullies. She stood up to the mean, horrible men who believe girls should not be allowed to go to school. And she went to school. So you, you will get out of bed, and you will go to school without one whine, without one moan, without one complaint…because you are lucky to live in a country where you CAN.”

    I just thought this was interesting and would provide some context that perhaps you were not aware of:

    “Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it. So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”

    Now THAT last quote is from President Obama speaking IN CAIRO about American values. Frankly I find it shocking you would choose to be offended by a quote from Romney saying that he went out of his way to personally pore over resumes to ensure there were women in his administration over a quote in which our own President of the USA made it his personal business to go to the mideast and speak for us and say that the USA supports just the very kind of oppression of girls and women that makes the kind of thing that happened to Malala possible in the first place.

    With much respect towards you, would love to hear your response to this.

    Thanks.

  3. Are you saying Pres. Obama’s reference to the hijab is supporting suppression of Muslim women? (I think that’s what you’re saying as I don’t see anything else in that quote even remotely offensive.) Actually, wearing the hijab is not oppression, it’s the culture, and most Muslim women prefer to wear it. I’m proud that I live in a country founded on freedom of religion and that means ALL religions, not just Protestant and Catholic.

    • Charlotte, my point is that Liprap (big fan, here, seriously) raised Malala as a counterweight to to Romney’s (either offensive or innocuous) “binder comment, by stating, “When do we do something other than make jokes about these acts and these lies? And in Romney’s case, I DO mean lies”, when in fact what Obama was *extolling* (yes, he was…) has much more relevance to Malala and girls like her in the middle east than anything Romney has ever said and done (and in fact, his anecdote, if true and if practiced by employers, was precisely the kind of thing that cures inequality).

      As for your point here: “wearing the hijab is not oppression”: ok, Malala was attacked and almost killed for speaking for education of women, how do you think a woman is treated in a muslim household if she “chooses” not to ear the hijab and what’s more if she starts advocating that women and girls NOT wear it? How do you think that would go? For an example: take a look at Malala, above.

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