07/17/2013 04:41 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

Remembering Alice Paul


Let's not vote for Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner, for the sake of our daughters and every young woman growing up in New York City and around the world.

What Weiner did was despicable, gross and degrading of women. And yet his actions have been excused by many, or trumped by a collective belief (and his excellent PR machine) that this man's intelligence is so special and so rare that we must have him in our midst even though he flashed pictures of his private parts to young women across the country. Many of these young women now have a difficult time finding employment and report being ridiculed wherever they go. They are the ones who really suffered, not Anthony Weiner.

Eliot Spitzer clearly broke the law, engaging in unlawful conduct that is by its nature deeply degrading to women. Spitzer committed a crime. The women he involved in his illegal behavior live difficult and challenging lives. He used his power to take advantage of them, and he is using his power now to have us forget about them.

Both men subsequently lied about their behavior, revealing the truth only when they were caught, and then asking for forgiveness. The theme of forgiveness has soared to incredible levels as they become more and more eager to win votes and convince us that it is them we should be feeling empathy for, with not a mention of their victims.

But let us consider what we want our daughters, or any girls we love and care for, to know about how we stand up for them going forward. I want my daughters to know that I don't tolerate this behavior. Not in my private life, of course, but also not in the life I create for myself and contribute to by living in a democratic society that allows me to use my vote to say something about who I am, who I hope every girl will get to be, and what I hope for the world.

I want this world to be a safe place for women and girls. I don't want my daughters to grow up in a world where they see that their elected officials have clearly demonstrated hateful and disrespectful behavior to women, and where it is possible for us to start to believe that either of these men are so indispensable that we cannot find anyone else to govern who might be both intelligent and ethical towards women. Why would we believe such a thing? I don't want a world like this. So I am going to use the power of my vote, and I vote no to all of that.

In 1917, Alice Paul and other suffragettes went to prison to fight for the vote for women. They waged bitter fights against a powerful political establishment at the risk of great personal deprivation, including jail time and hunger strikes, to at long last secure every woman's right to vote. Their humble, courageous and heroic efforts led to the historic passage of the 19th Amendment.

In this fall's election cycle, let's honor Alice Paul and the dignity of what she was trying to do for all women. I urge you not to vote for candidates who degrade and diminish the dignity of women and girls with repulsive and misogynistic behavior. Remember Alice Paul. Use your vote. Keep men who degrade women out of public office and out of public life.