02 May Can Women Put an End to Sexist Politics?
“Daddy,” said my pensive 10 year old daughter to me the other day, “Why is Anthony Weiner in the news all the time, with naked pictures? I thought he wasn’t in Congress anymore.”
Most of you probably don’t know that I almost ran for public office in Queens, New York in 2008. For years, I’ve had a deep interest in public service – and while ultimately I chose not to run five years ago, I am still interested in one day serving in government, in New York City or elsewhere. So I’ve followed the goings-on of government officials and would-be elected officials with a keen eye.
Frankly, what I’ve seen is disgusting.
I looked up to Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, and then he let me down, in a scandal with a hooker that led to resignation. Now he’s running again for office in New York City.
I looked up to Anthony Weiner, the former Congressman from New York, (finally, an elected official who used Twitter well!) and then he let me down, in a scandal involving him sending nude pictures of himself to young women. Now he’s running for Mayor in New York City!
The two elected officials I admired most have both been disgraced by sex scandals. But that’s just the beginning. In the last five years, the list of male US politicians disgraced by sex scandals is both exhausting and embarrassing: John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Kwame Kilpatrick, Vito Fossella, Pete Domenici, Herman Cain, Chris Lee, Mark Souder, Eric Massa, David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, and Gary Condit sadly represent just a partial list.
While all those men have been disgraced by politics, elected women, admitted far fewer in number, have not been. Why? Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, had this to say:
“The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody.”
That may be the case, but it’s no excuse for the seemingly-endless stream of male politicians in New York and throughout the country who can’t remain faithful to their partners. The news media doesn’t make it any better, as they follow every move of these disgraced male politicians and their inevitable attempted comebacks.
My friend Reshma Saujani is running for New York City Public Advocate, and just launched a campaign called, “Up to Us.” The campaign aims to empower women to help shift the political climate in New York from sex scandals to women’s issues. An online petition at UpToUs2013.com attempts to reclaim the public discussion from misogyny to the real needs of women and girls.
Up to Us might be aimed at women, but as a husband to one amazing and talented female leader, and a father to two amazing daughters, I believe men have an equal responsibility to shift the conversation from sex scandals to the gender gap, and put an end to sexist, misogynistic, sex-crazed male leaders.
My daughters deserve better. We all deserve better.
What do you think? Learn more now at UpToUs2013.com.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the current stream of sex scandals in NYC politics and throughout our country? Why do you think female leaders are not disgraced by sex scandals while men continue to be? How much do youthink the martial and sexual conduct of our elected leaders matters? What responsibility do you think women and men have for our elected leaders? Let me know in the Comments section below, and please do share this post with yournetwork.