Friday, October 19, 2012

High Heels and Pearls Are No Longer for the Kitchen

In my post yesterday I poked fun at Mitt Romney for his unfortunate remark about "binders full of women".  Mr. Romney probably meant his remark in a sincere, albeit misguided way and the resulting memes that spread through the Internet were just way too much fun.  Unfortunately, Romney is a Troglodyte and he needs to get into the 21st Century.  There are now more women in law schools and medical schools than there are men.  There are more registered women voters than there are men, and women are now scoring higher IQ scores than men.  This is not a trend.  This is what happens when more than 50% of the population is no longer subjugated and kept "in its place", and are no longer "bound" to their kitchens baking cookies, wearing high heels and pearls.  Well, they're now wearing their high heels and pearls in the boardroom.

In 1903 Madame Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize in Physics.  In 1911 she won a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 1935, Madame Curie's daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their contributions to the field of medicine have been immeasurable.   Madame Curie was aware of the discrimination against women and she made a point of hiring women who also had suffered discrimination by the male science establishment. By doing so, she gave several of these brilliant women their start in physics. One was Marguerite Perey who began as a test tube washer and, a few years later, discovered the radioactive element Francium. Another woman she hired was Ellen Gleditsch, who was a radiochemist, and who established the half-life of radium.

During the 1940s, the actress Hedy Lamarr wasn't just a beautiful movie star. According to a new play, Frequency Hopping, she was also a shrewd inventor who devised a signal technology that millions of people use every day in their cell phones. During the Second World War, Lamarr realized that by transmitting radio signals along rapidly changing, or "hopping," frequencies, American radio-guided weapons would be far more resilient to detection and jamming. The sequence of frequencies would be known by both the transmitter and receiver ahead of time, but to the German detectors their message would seem like gibberish. "No jammer could detect it, no German code-breaker could decipher a completely random code," she says in the play. The technology, says Singer, was far ahead of its time. Although her ideas were at first ignored, the technology (which she and Antheil patented in 1942) was later used by the military—during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, for example—and more recently, it has been employed in wireless technologies like cell phones. It was eventually recognized in 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation honored Lamarr with a special Pioneer Award and she became the first woman to receive the Invention Convention's BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award. ~~ Scientific American

The use of x-ray diagnosis and treatment in medicine, and the invention of cellular phones – both invaluable contributions by women. What a loss that would have been to the world if those brilliant woman had been kept in the kitchen, or worse, kept on a shelf in binders. I wonder how many women in Mitt Romney's binders were actually more qualified than the men, to do the jobs for which they had applied. Probably more than Romney would care to admit. We can poke fun at Romney, we can even poke fun at Obama for picking up the binder gaffe and running with it.  The truth is, the world is full of brilliant women.  Step out of those binders, ladies (isn't *bind* a somehow fitting word?) -- literally and figuratively. The world needs your brilliance. And let's face it, could we possibly do any worse than the men? Who knows, we might even just do better than the men. And we promise not to put them in binders.


PhilipH said...

Posting par excellence Jo.
And Heddy Lamarr was perfection personified, in looks and intelligence.
Yes Jo, excellent piece of work.

Paula Slade said...

Here, here Jo - a most excellent post!

Leslie: said...

That is exactly why I was hoping Madame Clinton could have beaten Monsieur Obama to run for the presidency. She's the closest any woman has been to attaining that position and would have done an awesome job! (in my humble opinion)

Sextant said...

The ironic thing about Curie if she had not been discriminated against in her native Poland she may have very well been an excellent but unheard of professor. Being rejected from the Polish university, she returned to France where she thrived.

Check out the two large photos here:

There is a lot of intellectual horsepower in both photos and only one woman, Madam Curie. What a phenomenal lady, and what a shame that for millennia we have chosen to ignore half of the great minds that were bestowed on to human society.

Check out Lise Meitner, I think you will like her as well:

She should have shared Otto Hahn's Nobel prize in physics. She explained to him what the hell was going on when uranium suddenly turned into barium during fission.

Sextant said...

@ Leslie,

Well I am hoping for Elizabeth Warren in 2016. I think she will make a great president, and we won't have to hear about how she is really just a first lady under Bill's third administration. Although if Clinton ran I think she would do well also, but there is always so much baggage with the Clintons. We will have to fund yet more obligatory investigations into White Water and Vince Foster's murder. Then of course we can alway bring Monica back. Liz will just be a lot cleaner. She is probably born in this country too (that would be the US-sorry Jo).

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Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Great post, Jo! So true! The bad old days aren't that far behind us -- remember the "Help Wanted - Female" and "Help Wanted - Male" classified ads? I remember the HR director asking during the hiring process for my first full-time job what form of birth control I used and my family plans. At the time, I was not married, a virgin and totally humiliated. Naturally, no one asked such questions of male new hires. We still have a long way to go, but it's heartening to know that women are making such progress in the professions. I am very fearful of setbacks if Romney/Ryan win, especially if they were successful in rolling back reproductive freedom - a key to women's advancement.

Momcat said...

Well, I cant promise not to put some of the guys in binders but thank you for your post, Jo. Sometimes us girls limit ourselves as well and really, the sky's the limit isnt it!?

Katy said...

I have to say when I saw this exchange in the debate I didn't laugh. Perhaps because I'm a woman in the workforce... in the Southern US I hear these kinds of comments a lot. Men trying to sound benevolent towards the opposite sex in ways that are just so patronizing.

And yet, in true southern bell style we are suppose to nod and smile at the subtle insults least we been seen as a feminist with a back bone. After all, "I'm sure he didn't really mean what he said."


Linda Myers said...

I wouldn't fit in a binder. Poor Mitt.

Single and Sane said...

I suspect Gov. Romney still has no idea what was wrong with his choice of words. As I told a friend on Facebook, it's kind of the opposite of "Corporations are people" with women as inanimate objects. Honest to Pete.


Carol E. said...

Spot on. Romney is so out of touch. I have enjoyed many laughs over the Binders of Women memes all over the internet.

melanie said...

what a wonderful and inspiring post, thank you x

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Amen. I feel too strongly about this issue to express it adequately, but I so enjoyed your post.

Marie Curie was one of my childhood heroines, and I have always considered Hedy Lamarr the most beautiful of the 30s actresses. I didn't know until recently of her intellectual accomplishments, but that makes her demise even sadder.