KATHLEEN TROIA 'K.T.' McFARLAND: How Women Can Strike Back at Letterman

By Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarlandNational Security Expert/Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Almost every woman I saw last weekend talked about David Letterman. "I can't believe he said those things about a child!" "How can he get away with it?" "No wonder women don't run for office, they want to put their families through that."

But after the outrage was vented, most women just shrugged that shrug of helpless: 'Can't change the way it is, politics is a dirty business.'



As a former candidate for public office, what happened to Gov. Palin is too often par for the course for any women candidate. Not only is she considered fair game, so is her husband, and so are her children -- regardless their ages. I experienced it myself when I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and so did Jeanine Pirro as a candidate for Attorney General from New York the same year. The media wolf pack attacks on women candidates observe no political boundaries -- Caroline Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Geraldine Ferraro were also savagely attacked. We are portrayed as crazy, dumb, witchy, bitchy, sexy or man-haters -- take your pick. Sick as it is, it has become the norm, and women candidates know there will probably always be a double standard. I've talked about it with several of them and most of us agree that until women stand up for women, it will continue.

But David Letterman has gone too far in attacking an innocent 14-year-old child whose only crime was going to a baseball game with her mom. He has called her mom a slut, and told the child she could be raped. When asked to apologize he likened her to a prostitute. And said it was just a joke. That's like saying as long as a woman is getting raped she should lean back and enjoy it. His supporters have even suggested Gov Palin brought it on herself by taking her daughter out in public. That's like saying the rape victim was asking for it because she wore a short skirt.

What David Letterman said was bad enough. But the terrible thing is so many women feel there is nothing they can to do about it. It's that sense of helplessness rape victims talk about -- the deed was horrible, but even worse is the feeling that it could happen again anytime, anywhere and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

But women aren't helpless. They can change things. Forget about appealing to David Letterman's conscience - not only did he refuse to apologize to the child, he heaped on more verbal abuse.

So, ladies, use your grocery cart as a weapon. Women are the nation's primary purchasers -- that is power. So let's use it. Boycott products that advertise on Letterman's show. There is a complete list of advertisers at: firedavidletterman.com. But for starters stop buying anything made by Kellogg, Mars Candy, or Johnson Johnson. That means no Special K or mini-wheats. No MMs or Snickers. No Listerine. Going out to dinner this week? Cross The Olive Garden off your list -- they're big Letterman sponsors, too.

A couple of hundred people boycotting these products won't make a difference. But if Kelloggs is down a few hundred thousand boxes of cereal sales this week, they'll pay attention. They may pull their ad spots and CBS will be forced to do to Letterman what they did to Don Imus when he did something similar. Say "you're fired."

When you head to the grocery store this week, go to war. You'll be striking a blow for all women. Not only will you feel better for having done something, you may succeed in getting Mr. Letterman fired. If so, the media may finally get the message to knock it off -- or risk losing their jobs.

If that happens, you can look your young daughter in the eye and tell her that in America any little girl can grow up to be president -- and know that your granddaughters will be safe if she decides to take you up on it.

Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She was a Republican candidate for Senate from New York in 2006.