Conservative columnist George Will argued on Sunday's edition of ABC's "This Week," that women should not be allowed in combat because of what he termed "certain anatomical facts." The moderator Martha Raddatz challenged Will's arguments.
Will was responding to a question from Raddatz about the decision to allow women in combat provided they met the same physical fitness standards as men. Will responded with the argument that the new policy would inevitably force the US military to lower the standards.
Will: "That’s what they always say. Let me give you an example: ‘No Child Left Behind’ said, ‘We’re gonna have a hundred percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014, and the scary thing is we might, because the only way we’ll get there is by dumbing down the standards, which is actually under way. The question is, will we change the physical fitness requirements so that we don’t have a ‘disparate impact?’ Are we going to ‘gender norm’ the requirements?"
Will (contd.): "Give you an example, you’ve been out, Martha, in these... in these combat zones. You’re a 6-foot, 4-inch, 240-pound Marine and you’re injured and you need the Marine next to you to carry you back to safety, and the Marine next to you is 5-foot woman who weighs 115 pounds. It’s relevant."
Raddatz: "Okay, can I tell you something, though, George, I’ve met a lot of combat medics who are women, who rappel down, who pick up big 6-foot, 4-inch Marines and take them to safety. I just interviewed a woman…"
Will: "Okay, that’s fine. We know that 152 women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know that they’re now serving on submarines, and it’s all good for the military. But there are certain anatomical facts about upper-body strength and stamina."
[Protests from the ABC panel]
NPR's Steve Inskeep: "If I may, though..."
Raddatz: "OK, very quickly here, Steve."
Inskeep: "Those anatomical facts are averages. The average woman may not be fit for the Army, but the average man probably is not, either. The question is whether they're going to deal with individuals, and there are surely individual women who could pick you or I up wounded and carry us off a battlefield."CrooksAndLiars rounds up with an apt comment: "We've had women out there putting their lives on the line for years now, and it's about time they were allowed the same opportunities and recognition as their male counterparts."