We owe women far more

Published 10:28 pm Monday, October 22, 2012

The 2012 presidential debates have been different for me this year. It is not that I am not tuned in; in fact, there is more of a need to be tuned in now than ever before. We have two candidates with totally different philosophies.

One philosophy wants to take us back to the gloom and doom of the past and the other wants to move us forward.

What makes this presidential debate cycle different is the absence of that beautiful smile, unique laughter, and acute insight of my baby sister, Jalaila Joi. We would often watch the debates together, giving our personal political analysis of what was being said.

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During the second debate, I could not help but to think of how she would have responded when presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney, in a subtle way, evaded answering the question about inequalities within the workplace such as unfair pay for women. In referring to his attempt to appoint women to his cabinet, Romney said, “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.”

Regardless of what side of the political aisle you stand, you cannot ignore the archaic and insensitive comments of “whole binders full of women.”

People can try to spin and rationalize that comment all they want, but the comment itself is an indication of how women have been treated throughout this entire election cycle. Our mothers, sisters, and daughters are not commodities. They are highly qualified, intelligent, gifted and amazing women who have helped shape and build the world in which we live.

To add insult to injury, Romney went on to say, “because 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.” He continued, saying he knew she couldn’t work late because she had to be home “making dinner” and “being with her children after they got home from school.”

That comment alone, is insensitive not only to women, but to men as well. Do fathers not have to go home and care for their children? Do single dads not have to balance work and family? Women are not asking for special favors they are asking for the same opportunities that are given to men.

As a woman, surviving in a world that continues to place limits and boundaries on you is more than enough to qualify you. The time has come for equal access and opportunity to be given to all people regardless of race, gender or creed.