Women Closer To Combat


by Chris Bodenner

Some social progress out of the Pentagon yesterday:

The new rules, slated to go in effect this summer, will open up about 14,000 additional jobs to women and reflect the realities of asymmetrical warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan where there are few "safe jobs." In some cases, the Pentagon is simply lifting restrictions on jobs women have already been doing. As ABC News explains, "Typically, these jobs have been made available at the combat brigade level, but not at the lower battalion level, which was deemed too close to combat situation."

Rick Santorum responded to the new regulations:

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 camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat.

Pundits on the left and right are interpreting those ambiguous words to mean that he thinks women are simply too emotional to deal with combat. It seems more likely, however, that Santorum is saying that male soldiers will have to endure a new kind of emotional stress seeing women face death and dismemberment on the battlefield.

But that of course plays into the sexist notion that women should be uniquely protected against harm. So regardless of the interpretation, Santorum's words condescend to the professionalism of female or male soldiers, who successfully control all kinds of emotions under extreme duress and danger. Previous Dish debate of women serving in combat here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

(Photo: Female Marine Corps recruits listen to instruction during hand-to-hand combat training at the United States Marine Corps recruit depot June 23, 2004 in Parris Island, South Carolina. Marine boot camp, with its combination of strict discipline and exhaustive physical training, is considered the most rigorous of the armed forces recruit training. By Scott Olson/Getty Images)