Santorum needs to rethink what women want

By Alexandra Petri, The Washington Post
Posted Feb. 16, 2012, at 8:36 p.m.

When John King of CNN asked Rick Santorum his opinion on women in the military serving on the front lines, Santorum noted: “I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country, and they do so in an amazing and wonderful way, and they’re a great addition and they have been for a long time to the armed services of our country, but I do have concerns about women in front-line combat.”

Really.

“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.”

Ah.

The next day, Santorum noted that he meant men’s emotional issues. “I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them,” he said. “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.”

That’s much better.

I was really warming to Santorum. Maybe it was the sweater vests. Maybe it was his vision of an embattled America where sneering people in the White House refuse to listen to Average Americans, as they have refused to listen to Rick Santorum for so many years. Maybe it was the fact that he’s been able to open his mouth without sticking his foot in it, a rare quality these days.

Until right about now.

Santorum seems like a nice guy — sincere and family-oriented. His face resembles a friendly oval.

But every so often he says something that reminds me of what he believes women should be doing, which, by and large, is — as my colleague Jennifer Rubin pointed out — staying in the home cultivating traditional families. Because that’s where true fulfillment lies. Perish the thought that “professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.”

Silly women. Professional accomplishments are for men. Any notions to the contrary stem from, as Santorum called it in his 2005 book, “It Takes a Family,” “radical feminism’s misogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect.”

I’m glad he’s here to tell us these things.

No, social value and self-respect derived outside the home can’t be what women really want. And if there’s a man out there who knows what women really want, it’s Rick Santorum.

I have no objection to stay-at-home moms. I have no objection to working moms. What I do object to is Rick Santorum telling me that he knows what is really best for women — on the front lines or anywhere else. It’s nice that he thinks the women in our armed forces are “amazing and wonderful” and “a great addition.”

They are, whether he thinks so or not.

And that’s the trouble with these family-focused candidates. Someone has to mind the family while the man of the house runs for president. It takes two to make a home, but God had some very specific things to say about who should be doing most of the home work, ever since a little incident with an apple in a garden some unspecified number of years ago. We owe men one.

It’s time, with God’s help, that we repudiated all those awful family-destroying ideas of the 1960s. “The Feminine Mystique” had it backward. That vague, soul-crushing sense of unfulfillment that overcame Betty Friedan no doubt was because she’d ingested some Pine-Sol by accident, or maybe she wasn’t praying enough.

Santorum is here to set us straight. Fulfilled? By working? Please! That’s an illusion, stemming from the combination of radical feminism and all those “other types of emotions.”

If Santorum feels more fulfilled in the home, that’s fine. If Santorum would be excessively emotional on the front lines, that’s fine, too. And if he has some data regarding women on the front lines or, heck, anything other than the vague feeling that maybe “other emotions” are going to be a problem for the women themselves or the men with whom they serve, he should give us that data right now, before I become brusque.

Santorum told King that compromising situations already happen “with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women or the mission.”

The best interests of women? He would know.

Alexandra Petri wrote this for The Washington Post.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/16/opinion/santorum-needs-to-rethink-what-women-want/ printed on September 21, 2014