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My File Cabinets Full of Men

 I completely appreciate why the internet is buzzing about Governor Romney’s claim during Tuesday’s presidential debate that he had “binders full of women.”  But there’s also a part of me that identifies with his statement.

I, after all, have file cabinets full of men.

While Romney said he used the binders to identify qualified candidates for key positions in state government, my file cabinets serve an entirely different purpose.

I use them to store reminders of all the men that are NOT qualified to be in any part of my life.

I started my first file when I was a young girl and a boy told me that men were more important than women because they got to keep their last names when they got married. I was devastated, but I was also angry. As a result, that boy had the honor of being the first male I ever put in a file cabinet.

Over the decades, I’ve filled several file cabinets with men. Some of the most memorable include:

*  The minister who insisted my friend keep the word “obey” in her wedding vows.

*  The agency director who tried to prevent me from getting a management position because I breastfed my baby during a meeting that I graciously attended while on maternity leave.

* The community leader who always referred to me by using my husband’s last name, even though he knew I had never changed mine.

*  The manager who issued a dress code that all female employees must wear pantyhose with skirts or dresses.  (For the record, the dress code was issued during the summer when I was eight months pregnant.)

*  The nonprofit executive who, with a staff of all women, refused to let mothers take sick leave when a child was ill or had a doctor’s appointment. At that time, we were all granted a set number of days for both vacation and sick leave, but vacation was much more limited. The director’s exact words were, “letting mothers take sick leave for their children isn’t fair to the employees who don’t have children.”

* The supervisor who blatantly promoted young, attractive females over more qualified, middle-aged women.

I’ve recently been considering adding another man to my file cabinets. While this man claims to support women, he’s never demonstrated any real understanding of the often life-long battle many of us have faced. He’s skirted around the issues of equal pay for equal work and reproductive rights. And even when he tries to express his appreciation about the need for equality in the workplace, he falls short by indicating that women don’t want to work long hours because they have to go home and fix dinner.

Yes, this week I’m definitely thinking about adding that man to my file cabinets. I’m just not sure if his binders will fit too.