Friday, February 10, 2012

Santorum Word Salad

What the hell is Santorum talking about?



What are these mysterious emotions that he's talking about?  At first it seemed like he was implying that women might be too scared or emotional to carry out a mission, but then he starts talking about men and camaraderie and these things already happening and I was thrown off.  Usually the things coming into the spotlight regarding men and camaraderie in the face of war revolve around groups of soldiers doing bad things together, like urinating on bodies, or taking trophies of the war, or being overly aggressive and killing non-combatants.

I think he is trying so hard not to say what he really thinks, that women are not fit for combat, that he is wandering all over the place spewing non-sensical word salad.

A Santorum candidacy would push me even further away from the Republican party.  He is a culture warrior through and through.  There isn't a single issue that he speaks about that isn't directly tied to a religious position he has or is influenced by.

No objectivity. No openness to any area of policy that doesn't already line up with his predetermined view of the world.

*Update*

 Santorum clarified his remarks about women in combat, saying that he was referring to the emotions that men would have while working with women:
“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women. I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them. So my concern is being in combat in that situation instead of being focused on the mission, they may be more concerned with protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position.”
Well, it wasn't just my imagination that Santorum wasn't making much sense. Apparently, he was wandering all over the place in that first clip.

The problem with what Santorum says here is that it is based in his own view of gender roles.  He naturally assumes that because he believes women need to be protected, and that men are responsible for protecting them, that every other man feels the same way.

It is self-evidently obvious to him.

Personally, I think it's bunk. If you're in the middle of an intense battle, you're not going to be thinking about gender roles.  You're going to be thinking about survival, plain and simple. And...soldiers are already trained to look out for each other and work as a team, "protecting" each other.

The women who choose to enlist and want to be closer to combat are women who are probably naturally inclined to do just that.  They aren't garden-party, creative-memory-making, trophy wife women who are being forced into a life they aren't suited for and don't want.  They don't need to be protected any more than any soldier needs to be protected.

6 comments:

DH said...

Upfront caveat - I didn't watch the footage of Santorum's speech. With that said, the belief that women should be kept from combat positions, while ostensibly well-intentioned and "chivalrous", seems antiquated, sexist, and out of touch with reality. Women have worked long and hard to secure equal footing with men - a battle (no pun intended) that continues to this day. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure, and I could be completely wrong, that the research shows that women make excellent combatants and oftentimes exceed their male counterparts on the battlefield.

Don't get me wrong, there's a very "old fashioned" part of me that would love to keep women from the battlefield -- to assert the classic male, protectionist role -- but we can't do so at the cost of treating women as somehow less-than or subservient.

terri said...

You should watch the clip. It's actually not that long, but it seemed a little incoherent and non-sequitir-ish to me.

VanceH- said...

Hi Terri,
Well said! I wish the candidates could manage to think half as clearly as you do.

-- Vance

DH said...

Okay, so I watched the video clip, and with the clarification that he made about his remarks, which you provided in your addendum, his comments make sense. I'm not saying that I agree with him but rather that I now understand what he's saying. I guess he's trying to express that he believes we already have situations where men in combat make poor decisions and compromise the overall mission out of a kinship or, as he calls it, camaraderie that they feel for a fellow soldier (i.e., the put the needs of the one above the needs of the many) and that he fears that type of feeling and situation will only become worse if women are on the front line - due to his feeling that men will feel an even stronger personal connection to a woman and will have a harder time sacrificing the individual needs of a female fellow soldier in battle if it's in the best interests of the overall mission.

While I do agree that some of what he fears might occur, I think he's overstating the size and potential impact of the issue and that, as he himself asserts, it's really not a whole lot different than the challenge faced by the personal bond that fellow male soldiers form with one another.

Ultimately soldiers, male or female, are trained to work together as a team and fiercely protect one another but also make the hard decision to subjugate the needs of one person to the needs of the larger group when necessary. It's not easy for anyone to do, but it's what soldiers are trained to do, and I'm confident that if women were introduced to front-line combat situations, the fighting force would continue to perform this challenging role to the best of its ability.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In non-combat situations, men behave differently when women are around (and that flows both ways). What is your evidence that this disappears in combat?

There is a combat difficulty that goes unmentioned. It can be worked around, but it is a work-around. Many tasks require skills that women have as good a supply of as men, or better. But some require bursts of physical strength. They just do. In the IDF, they have been extremely clever in keeping people in roles where they can succeed. They have also decided that whatever they lose militarily from their emphasis on collective responsibility at universal preparedness, it is worth it to the society they have designed.

But it my not be easily replicated in other countries. I sometimes wonder if both sides of this argument don't lose sight of the fact that we are talking about life and death, not what gender roles we would like to see expressed in the military.

As soldiers pretty rapidly fight for their comrades, or the honor of their unit, or the girl back home rather than patriotism - and they always have, as far back as we have records - I am reluctant to dismiss camaraderie as a reason.

terri said...

VanceH...Thanks. I'm not sure I deserve the compliment , but I'll take it. ;-)

DH...I would only ask how often men fail the mission out of camaraderie? Santorum says it happens, yet offers no examples of it happening even in male soldiers. It's not that I don't think it could happen, but I think it's probably rare.

Soldiers are highly trained and while they are definitely trained to carry out missions, they are also charged to make good decisions in split seconds and adapt. I just don't know how Santorum can says what he says and what criteria he's using in the case of male soldiers, let alone female soldiers.

It seems to me like he's just making stuff up to suit his already pre-determined view.

AVI,

I don't think that it matters that men and women behave differently around each other. Men and women already work together in the military. What matters is whether they would act differently in a detrimental way in combat situations. Santorum has no basis for saying that other than he feels it must be true.

I just go back to thinking about the training that soldiers go through and the nature of how modern combat occurs. It isn't a lot of hand to hand combat. It's precision work and strength is important as far as being able to carry heavy gear and have physical endurance. I believe that there plenty of women who are physically capable of doing that.

When it comes to discussions about the physical strength of women in combat, I can't help but wonder if everyone thinks that all male soldiers are big bulky he-men...that there are no lean, lanky soldiers who are physically fit but not as musclebound as others.

Soldiers don't come from a factory, all equally strong, smart, and capable.

For me it's all about whether a particular woman is a good soldier, or not. If they prove themselves physically and mentally capable as any other soldier, then I see no reason for them not to be in combat.

I was going to say that the main problem with women in combat would be the possibility of sexual relationships occurring and women becoming pregnant....but then I guess that''s already a possibility for women currently in the military.

I'm not sure what happens to female enlistees who become pregnant, or how the military handles them.