History Says Rick Santorum Is Wrong on Women in Combat

The recent conservative surge in rhetoric opposing the role of women in combat resulting from a Pentagon decision to let women serve closer to combat ignores one important historical fact: women have served in combat since ancient times – likely since the dawn of time. And they were not eliminated from that role due to unsuitability physically or emotionally but because of cultural baggage we would be well rid of and the firm hold of an equally outdated patriarchy.

Here is Mr. Marriage, Rick Santorum last week:

 

This is no surprise coming from Santorum, though he later tried to clarify his position by saying that it wasn’t that he thought women were “too emotional” but that men would want to protect them:

“I’ve never raised that as a concern. No, the issue is — and certainly one that has been talked about for a long, long time — is how men would react to seeing women in harm’s way, or potentially being injured or in a vulnerable position, and not being concerned about accomplishing the mission.”

You don’t need to look any further for evidence for that patriarchal thinking; even Santorum acknowledges it (though he doesn’t see it as a problem that men think this way).

Here is Brian Fischer this week in defense of Santorum’s pre-clarification stance on women in combat:

Not only are women too emotional, but lack the physicality according to Fischer’s AFA blog post yesterday: they can’t throw a grenade far enough to avoid blowing themselves up.

It is just simple fact that neither nature nor nature’s God designated the female body for the rigors of combat. Men have greater size, upper body strength and stamina for a reason. God’s intention is for them to use that superior strength to protect women and children.

His conclusion is that “Bottom line: women in combat will jeopardize our national security.”

Flabby Fischer needs to come to grips with the fact that he is not exactly nature’s male archetype; there are many women far more physically fit than he has ever been or will ever be, who can throw a grenade farther than he can, run faster, and for greater distances; and likely carry more. A set of testicles (which we will presume the presence of in Mr. Fischer’s case) does not translate into instant he-man grenade-lobbing arm strength.

As a matter of record, the M67 grenade used by the U.S. military weighs 14 ounces, a little less than a pound. The average soldier can throw a grenade 40 meters. The effective range of the grenade’s detonation is 15 meters but fragments can fly up to 230 meters. In other words, nobody can throw a grenade to be entirely safe from fragments and it’s highly unlikely that most women can’t throw an object weighing less than one pound far enough to avoid killing themselves.

According to these conservative males women are by their very nature unsuited to combat. Yet women have historically fought in combat roles in various cultures, including the Celts, the Norse, Germans, Goths, Scandinavian Rus, the Scythians and elsewhere. We have evidence both from the literary record as well as the archaeological.

In one instant, a Roman historian, Johannes Skylitzes says that during the invasion of Bulgaria soldiers among the invading forces led by Sviatoslav (ON Sveinaldr), ruler of Kiev (942-972 CE), were found to be women – currently dead women – who had fought like their male counterparts and like their male counterparts, died in battle.

With regard to the Scythians we have abundant archaeological evidence of women buried with all the accouterments of the warrior, including swords and daggers and one historian estimates that 20 percent of the graves contain women outfitted for battle. The grave of a female Iranian warrior has even been uncovered (2004).

Plutarch attests to the Celtic women warriors saying of a battle in 102 B.C.E. that “the fight had been no less fierce with the women than with the men themselves… the women charged with swords and axes and fell upon their opponents uttering a hideous outcry” and Diodorus Siculus said that “Among the Gauls the women are nearly as tall as the men, whom they rival in courage.”

Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, fascinated the Romans and terrified them: here was a woman who led her army in combat against a Roman army – and won. For a time, Palmyra ruled the entire Roman East after defeating a Persian invasion the Romans could not.

The Roman emperor who defeated her and brought her to Rome in chains, Aurelian, also had Gothic women warriors in his triumphal procession. Says the Historia Augusta: “ten women who, dressed in male attire, had been captured fighting among the Goths, after many had died, and whom a placard indicated to be the gens of the Amazons – for placards indicting the names of their peoples were carried before all.”

There can be no doubt that women are suited to combat. There is too much historical evidence in favor of it. If a woman can wield a sword weighing in excess of 2 pounds or a spear she can lob a grenade without blowing up Bryan Fischer’s testicles. Women today are without a doubt larger and more fit than women in the first century before the Common Era.

There is nothing these men are saying that doesn’t smell (and badly) of misplaced patriarchal sense of “proper” roles for the genders – men do all the physically demanding stuff and defend their families (and presumably steal fossil fuel resources from other people) while women stay at home and make babies and nod stupidly at their husband’s ridiculous assertions. Some women have come a long way, but not, apparently, conservative women.

21 Replies to “History Says Rick Santorum Is Wrong on Women in Combat”

  1. it’s obvious that Santorum and Fisher know absolutely nothing about the military. If you have an all-male squad, those males are trained to protect each other the same exact way that a mixed sex squad would protect each other. This is perhaps the weakest and one of the dumbest things that Santorum could come up with.I believe it is called training. When you go through basic training you are either prepared to kill someone or you are washed out. Under no circumstances should Santorum ever be in charge of any type of military force including as commander-in-chief.

    It’s obvious where he wants women. At home where they belong

  2. In fact, women in every society that has experienced invasion, women have fought defensively. One of the reasons cauldrons have been associated with witches is that, in besieged castles and citadels, the tarpots were often operated by women, usually sturdy kitchen wenches who were used to handling cooking vessels of equal size and weight. The last words of many an invader as he fell from his scaling ladder in flames were likely to be, “@%!!***#%@@!!itch!” And so, a legend was born.

    The kitchen implements of a medieval hold were as formidable as weapons: iron spits, giant cooking-forks, knives and cleavers that could disjoint whole carcasses, meat mallets and rolling pins as deadly as maces were all likely to be used if the invaders got past the tar-pots. Only arbalests and cannons did not have their culinary counterparts. Nonetheless, anyone who has seen Goya’s “Disasters of War” remembers the lone woman mounting the hill of her dead menfolk to light the match of a cannon aimed at Napoleon’s invading armies. She was iconic, but not alone, and as long as war and its gruesomeness are with us, she never will be.

  3. I have a better idea…let’s keep all people out of combat and live in peace. Surely these ‘Christian’ men remember Jesus and his teachings? I fail to remember one time when he told people to kill each other in His name as America does now, and as Santorum and the rest of the GOP is so eager to continue.

  4. I think we all need to face the fact here that this has absolutely nothing to do with the military and far more to do with women who are not in the home where Brian Fisher and Rick Santorum want them to be. If either of them were president today they would try to pass a law banning women from working anything more than menial tasks outside the home

  5. Well, no: they also get to be nurses, secretaries, cashiers, and (ununionized, underpaid) grade-school teachers. Oh, and the ones who aren’t white scrub floors.

  6. I would add that women with combat training might start fighting back against batterers and rapists, and then, where would “men” like these be?

  7. And keeping women in 6″ stiletto heels, full makeup, and fake tits is just another way, too, of keeping women’s real power in check, no matter how they try to slice it.

  8. I just think old Rick gets a thrill from seeing a man in uniform and doesn’t want any stinky old women messing with his fantasy time.

  9. Antidote: My daughter (and son) served with the 82nd, which means, she had to “jump” or be transferred…I doubt if Fisher the Phisher or little Ricky have the guts to make one qualifying jump let alone 5…I digress…

    I have asked my little darling (Sgt. Bilco with tats…naw, just joking), about these remarks made by Santorum/Fisher. She had a very cool head and laughed stating, “I can’t tell you how many times the evangelicals in uniform made these snide remarks and were rebuked time and again by everyone else in uniform for their unprofessional attitude and ignorance.”

    She just waved’em off like flies buzzing around light bulb…Then, she proceeded with funny stories about showing up on base (off duty) in civilian clothes a couple of times, and, how awkward her troops were at her appearance…as in “oh it’s you Sar…we thought it was a girl, er ah, I mean, we didn’t know it was you and now were grossed out, er ah, ahh, I mean…” they were so used to her being a solider that she appeared totally out of character to them…they were bewildered that she was also a “girl”, not just a “Joe”. (mind you these are “kids”…)

    That is something these guys never get; soldiers are just that–soldiers.

  10. “History Says Rick Santorum Is Wrong on Women in Combat”

    Redundant;
    Rick Santorum is just wrong, period.
    Time for him to go back to the hole he crawled out of.

  11. In the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Fanny inquires as to where her post will be during the planned rescue mission:

    Little John: “Are you bleedin’ cracked, girl? You’d get hurt.”

    Fanny: “I’ve given birth to eight babies. Don’t you talk to me about gettin’ hurt, ya big ox.”

  12. Bingo.

    Having interviewed plenty of women on base in training for combat, and filmed them in exercises along side men, I can say with certainty that these boys are smoking keep-her-in-the-kitchen crack. Of course, that is their entire raison d’être so no shocker there.

    Another sector gone from the shrinking tent.

  13. By the way, the earliest defenders of Stalingrad against the German onslaught were female flak gunners, who, despite the fact that antiaircraft weapons were difficult to use against ground forces, defended the city so ferociously that when the Germans finally entered the city, they were astonished to find so many female dead at the guns.

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