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GERALDINE FERRARO: Hateful Language Has No Place In Campaigns

I was wondering when sexism against women in this election cycle was going to draw some attention. -- I won’t go back to the ‘84 campaign when I, too, was called a “word that rhymes with witch.” -- Since then I have received several rather embarrassed apologies from a very gracious woman who was, understandably, caught up in her husband's campaign. And that is over.

But in 2008 I became a lunatic and ended up loosing a lot of friends in the media when I was extremely vocal about how Hillary was treated by the press and her opponent. 

After that campaign was over, numerous reports were issued by academics across the country as well as some women in the media but the change in behavior that I had hoped would be forth coming in this campaign, never materialized. Instead the silence was deafening. 

Until a report came out that Meg Whitman was called a “whore” by one of former Governor Jerry Brown's staffers. Brown did what he could. He apologized and fired the staffer sending the strong message that such behavior would not be tolerated by his campaign.

Almost like a one two punch, Joy Behar -- an old friend of mine for over 30 years, an entertainer in some ways caught up in the fun of ratings,  kind of like Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and coming off the O'Reilly tiff on her show -- issued a challenge to Sharron Angle to debate the immigration issue on “The View” and referred to her several times as “bitch.” 

If you've heard any of Joy's routines you would know that, like most comedians she is an equal opportunity basher. That doesn't excuse her and I will tell her the next time I see her to lay off the sexist comments during campaigns. We all know how much good that will do!

But though Sharron complained about Joy's sexist rant, for some inexplicable reason, she leveled a sexist and low blow (double entendre intended) against Senator Reid, telling him to "man up.” He was too much of a gentleman to respond. That is not a line she would get away with in New York. She can't object to sexist behavior against her and then turn around and act sexist to her opponent.

But it’s not only Democrats against Republicans who sometimes cross the line. Take for instance, Carly Fiorina. Don't tell me she didn't realize that she was being sexist -- as well as a tad ageist -- when she said referring to Barbara Boxer in an off-mic comment: '"God what is with that hair? So yesterday."

And how did she stand by when Sen. John McCain issued an unheard of jab at a colleague in the Senate, when he said about Barbara Boxer after distorting her record that “I should know (how difficult she is on defense issues) because I have had the unpleasant experience of having to serve with her.”

For those who don’t know how the Senate works, no Senator refers to his colleagues in that matter. John McCain has never referred to any colleague before like that. He thought he could get away with it because she is female.

If the women of Arizona go on the Internet and Google three words: John McCain, rape and gorilla -- they might see where he is coming from as far as women are concerned.

His public statements are just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe the women of Arizona will take his lack of respect for women into the polls with them on Tuesday and send him out looking for a new job after the first of the year.

And while they're at it, maybe Alaskan woman should check out Joe Miller who asked Sen. Murkowski, “What's the difference between selling out your party and the oldest profession?" Would he have asked that of a man? Don't they get it?

Then of course, there is Nancy Pelosi. When she spoke up on "Charlie Rose"  in October of last year commenting that General Stanley McChrystal's decision to publicly air his views on the war in Afghanistan instead of privately to the president, was inappropriate, the communications director for the National Republican Campaign Committee, Ken Spain said, among other things, “that taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place." 

Well. I guess both General Petraeus and the president agreed "her place" was in the Speaker's chair and General McChyrstal’s place? Not sure where he is now.

And even more superficially -- no one, even her detractors, can say that Nancy Pelosi doesn't know her job or doesn't do it well.

So what have we heard about unceasingly – Armani suits, her hair style, speculation on whether she uses Botox, and even her age. 

Do you remember Dennis Hastert? Did anyone laugh at his girth or gait? Did anyone speculate that he bought his suits at an end of season sale at Men’s Warehouse? They may have criticized him for his actions, but never demeaned him for his appearance.

When Sarah Palin ran in 2008 I stayed away from any criticism of her as a woman. I focused on policy and on what came out of her mouth just as I had done with Dan Quayle and others.

Karl Rove’s criticism of her is not because she is a female. He was and is critical because of her credentials as a candidate. That’s where criticism should lie on both sides of the aisle with both genders.

It’s time for sexism to be eliminated from campaigns. It’s up to the media – liberal and conservative alike; it’s up to the candidates. Carly Fiorina and Sharron Angle can’t take two bites from opposite sides of the apple and think it’s OK. It’s time to stop the hateful, non-relevant language of campaigns and get down to issue that are important to our country.

Fox News contributor Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1984. She is the author of two books: "Ferraro: My Story," which recounts the '84 campaign, and "Geraldine Ferraro: Changing History."