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Article published by on 2/12/2012

By Brian T. Murphy

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum believes women to be more emotional and less capable than men under pressure, and that they should not serve in the front lines of combat.

On Friday, Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum expressed his opinions on the ability of women to perform in combat while serving in our armed forces.  To present only a few outtakes from this interview, Santorum states that having women on the front lines could be a “very compromising situation where people [women] may naturally do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotion that are involved.”  For the record, it is unclear whether the natural thing to which Senator Santorum was referring was ovulation, more colloquially known as a woman’s “period.”

In a follow up interview, otherwise known as an opportunity to retract past comments, Santorum reaffirmed that women have inferior physical capabilities in the field, namely that they may be stuck in a situation where “someone is injured and has to be brought back.” He went on to say “just simply the emotions of men in dealing with women in combat, and not focused potentially on the mission, instead of in protecting a natural instinct to protect someone who’s a female…”

To summarize Santorum’s views on women serving on the front lines of combat:

  1. Women “may naturally do things” in the field that would compromise a mission

  2. Women are physically incapable of performing tasks such as removing an injured soldier to safety, or other actions involving object-lifting

  3. The mere presence of women in the field would only serve to distract men 

Given Santorum’s popularity, his ideals are not to be taken lightly.  Why a candidate with pre-World War II era social views has risen to the upper tier of one of the most powerful political parties in the world is a question we must stop ignoring. It is the elephant on our television that we refuse to speak of in American politics.

For instance, Santorum received thousands of Primary votes in Iowa (29,839) New Hampshire (23,432), South Carolina (102,475), Florida (223,208), Nevada (3,277), Minnesota (21,985), Colorado (26,614), and Missouri (138,957).  Of the seven states to hold primaries as of Friday, Santorum was the first choice of over half a million voters (569,787) to be the future leader of the free world.  Americans should be disturbed and ashamed by this.

In a sane world this one interview should have marked the end of Santorum’s political career, exposing him as a loveable, often polite, well-intentioned, bigoted sexist.  And I mean this in a polite, sincere way, just as when Santorum politely speaks about the inequality of women when under pressure, or when he courteously claims that denying gays the right to marry has no ties to bigotry. One must take this at face value, for I believe that he is being absolutely sincere – bigoted and oblivious to the implications of his words – but sincere.


So by Santorum’s rationale, should women be able to serve as policemen, fire fighters, or emergency room doctors? Certainly these are jobs that have intense physical requirements and often place the employee in harm’s way, requiring them to make quick decisions while under intense and sometimes life threatening pressure. Should a woman be trusted with the Presidency, given her emotional deficiencies under pressure? What about as a Senator? Surely there is intense pressure accompanying all of a Senator’s responsibilities.


I wish Senator Santorum the best of luck as he ponders these questions. If we are fortunate, he will quickly recognize the antithesis to which he is faced, just as registered American voters will recognize the bigoted, sexist, yet polite and well-mannered elephant to which they routinely face on their television.  And lucky for our female voters, there are no intense pressures to distract them from this decision, as it can be made safely within the confines of their living rooms.

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