Gentlemen — and ladies — start your parody Twitter accounts! A consensus has been reached regarding the most viral moment of last night’s second presidential debate. The question that inspired it: “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”
President Obama cited the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in his answer. Governor Romney responded by relaying an anecdote about searching for qualified female candidates for his Cabinet — specifically, he “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.”
Why did this phrase hit a nerve? Was it feminist backlash against the Republican party’s perceived bias against women? Was it Romney’s curious phrasing? Is there just something inherently funny about the word “binder”? Whatever the reason, #bindersfullofwomen has been trending on Twitter since last night and shows no signs of ebbing.
104,704 tweets per minute were sent when the candidates began discussing equal pay for women, according to Twitter’s official blog, though not all of them included talk of binders. (Barack Obama’s official account, however, did: “Mitt Romney still won’t say whether he’d stand up for equal pay, but he did tell us he has ‘binders full of women,'” it promptly tweeted.)
At least two rival Twitter accounts, the joke-focused @RomneysBinder and @Romneys_Binder, which initially took a different spin by imagining the specific women who may have been included in that binder, are fighting for memetic dominance. There’s also a Tumblr and a Facebook page, all filled with references to collation and Trapper Keepers. Eat your heart out, Laughing Joe Biden.
In case you missed it, here’s video of the remark that started the Internet feeding frenzy: