News

Santorum clarifies “emotions” remark regarding women in combat

Pin it

Following the Defense Department's announcement on Thursday that it would be opening thousands of combat-related positions to female troops, including tank mechanics, medics, and intelligence officers on the front lines, CNN's John King asked Rick Santorum for his reaction. Santorum responded:

I do have concerns about women in front-line combat, I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. It already happens, of course, with the cameraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat, and I think that's probably not in the best interest of men, women, or the mission.

It sounded like Santorum had once again put his foot in his mouth, suggesting that women were not equipped to serve as front-line soldiers because of their "emotions."

But on Friday, following an outcry from critics, the GOP hopeful clarified (or backpedaled) his remarks, saying that he was actually referring to the emotions of men, not women, explaining that men's "natural instinct" to protect women could serve as a distraction from their mission. Appearing on the Today show, Santorum said:

When you have men and women together in combat, I think men have the emotions when you see a woman in harm's way. I think that's something that's natural, that's very much in our culture to be protective.

Santorum also told CNN that:

If you're out there, for example, in a group, or just with two people, and some people, because of women, have, as you know with respect to physical capabilities, they don't have the same requirements that men do in the military, and may be in a position where someone is injured, has to be brought back.

Santorum tried to bolster his argument by alluding to the Israeli Army, which also restricts women from combat, saying "We have to look at mission-effectiveness and the safety of those who are deployed." (Unsurprisingly, he also made it clear that he has a problem with the Israeli Army allowing openly gay soldiers to serve.)

Whether Santorum's original comments were misinterpreted, or whether he's just doing some necessary political troubleshooting, his clarification does save his skin, to an extent. When debating whether women should be front-line combat soldiers, certain biological, and rational, arguments are beyond dispute. But even when explaining what he "really" meant, Santorum comes off sounding like a bit of a condescending douche, as if men are victims of their own chivalry, with poor helpless women screwing up the mission. (As a side note, an ABC/Washington Post poll last March found that seventy-three percent of Americans supported allowing women in the military to serve in close-combat ground units.)

video platform video management video solutions video player