"Whole Binders Full of Women:" From Meme to Political Satire by way of Amazon's Product Review Page
This paper is inspired by the remarkable story of Lilly Ledbetter, whose name is honored in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Barak Obama's first piece of legislation, a legal remedy to the flawed Supreme Court Decision which caused Ruth Bader Ginsberg to read her dissent from the bench.
It may seem quaint to revisit the inelegance of Mitt Romney's political statements as the country has moved past the rhetoric of the 2012 election campaign, but the blogosphere's response to Romney's boast that he somehow found qualified women to serve in his administration deserves some attention. It is easy to have fun with the "meme" that emerged, the pictorial variations that depicted women in binders. But what explains the manner in which over one thousand "Customers" of Amazon.com posted, within perhaps 48 hours of the remark, "Reviews" of the particular styles of binders at Amazon's Office Supplies site? "Binders Full of Women" got snapped up as its own Political issues site; bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com posted many variations on the meme--including a screen shot of Amazon's product page for the Avery one-inch three-ring binder in White, by which time there were already over a thousand parodic reviews in direct response to Romney's boast.But this examination is not as much about volume of response as it is the re-enforcing of the meme into its own rich parody sub-genre. As Wall Street Journal has highlighted, the Customer Reviews have been used for parody, and they often linger much beyond any event that inspired them. The paper highlights this written satire and its origins. At the presentation, additional features included the display as a slide show some of the most entertaining graphic depictions at the tumblr site, credited to Veronica de Souza.
An addenda to the paper as presented includes updates on Lilly Ledbetter, especially with respect to her appearances in the local area and as archived at JSU's Houston Cole Library and News Bureau and Photographic Services.
Gates, Joanne E. "Whole Binders Full of Women:" From Meme to Political Satire by way of Amazon's Product Review Page. Presentation from 2013 at the Popular / American Culture of the South Conference in Savannah GA.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
scanPCASprogram20130001.pdf (3582 kB)
Program Page from the Conference
Previously unpublished. Presentation at Popular Culture Association of the South / American Culture Association of the South (PCAS/ACAS) 2013 Conference in Savannah, Georgia, October 4, 2013