Women in Combat: Rick Santorum's Peculiar Way of Courting Female Voters

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I'm a total pacifist -- a vegetarian, animal rescuer, protector of spiders, etc. Until, of course, I feel my family or farm is threatened, in which case, I don’t care what I have to do to protect those I love.

The past few nights, aside from the usual paranormal activity that happens here during a full moon, the tenants on the commercial side of our farm have been seeing people sneaking around the property at night. I mentioned this to the state police, who said they would patrol the farm, and I also told our tenants that if they felt threatened, I had no issue with them heading out their front door carrying a loaded gun. Because this is Bethany, folks, and trespassing on ANYONE'S property at night or any other time is just, plain stupid –- people here have guns, including the women. Or is it especially the women? In any case, all of them will hit their intended target, as they are excellent shots and none would dare miss for fear of accidentally hitting a horse, instead. (I'm only joking here, people . . . kinda . . . but not about their aim.)

I remember reading a story from New Year's Day about an 18-year-old mother in Oklahoma, Sarah McKinley, whose husband had just died of cancer. Two men were trying to break into her house, and she had locked and barricaded the doors, popped a bottle in her infant's mouth and called 911. There was no way help could get to her in time, and Sarah asked the dispatcher if she could shoot the man if he got inside. The woman replied she should do what she had to in order to protect her baby, and when one man finally barged through the door, Sarah shot him dead. The other, who was slower and possibly smarter, took off running. Talk about a woman keeping a cool head under pressure in an emotional situation.

Which, of course, is not at all what I wanted to write about today -– I was actually determined to tell the story of Mikey our bull calf getting out of his pen and into our youngest pig, Petunia Buttercup's paddock. But being a news junkie, one of the first things I do every morning is visit CNN.com, where I generally avoid videos in favor of articles as I need to get my information fast so I can get outside to feed the horses. This morning, however, I got sucked in by two video headlines:

The first one intrigued me because while Mrs. Gingrich is always by her husband Newt’s side, she seldom speaks. And now we know why. Callista Gingrich took an eternity to say her husband’s hobbies are golf and reading, and frankly, I’ve met animatrons at Disney World that had me more convinced they were human than Mrs. Gingrich did. Also, the animatrons were far less scripted.

The second video, in which Rick Santorum opined about how female emotions were not appropriate on the front lines in a battle zone, was flat-out offensive. First, because he suggested females are emotionally different and somehow not as strong as men, and second, because he stated with authority that the men fighting on the front lines would feel so protective of the women with them they wouldn’t be able to focus on the mission at hand. OK, Rick, take a step back and listen to what you just said –- the women aren't the ones with the “emotional” problem; you said, on the record, that the men would be influenced by their feelings. Well, which is it, big boy?

But let's take a moment to talk about war. What about war is not emotional? If you don't have strong feelings about what you’re fighting for, what the hell are you doing on a battlefield? I should hope there is plenty of emotion involved.

Given a choice, whom would I put in a foxhole beside me? Well, let’s see . . . the toughest people I know aren't men . . . they’re women. In fact, they are friends of mine who are country veterinarians who work with large farm animals and horses. These women can be awakened at 2 a.m. by a desperate phone call, drive an hour to treat a patient with colic, spend three hours tubing, walking and injecting a 1,500-pound horse that does not want to be tubed and injected. All the while they are comforting a frantic and emotional horse owner. Should all efforts fail, at the crack of dawn they have to help a desperate owner make a life or death decision about an animal they love more than life itself. And then, these women go to work for the day.

Emotional? Well, yeah, because they love animals and their jobs. Does that affect what they do? Well, yeah, because if it didn't, they would suck at their jobs. Do soldiers get emotional? Hello? Have you ever been to a military funeral? It doesn't mean they don’t perform their jobs while under pressure, just the way most woman do. Of course, there are exceptions for both genders, people who simply don’t have the inner core strength to hold it together at key moments. But then, they don’t make it through boot camp, never mind to the front line in a battle zone.

And Rick, honey, one more thing. I spend my days working with 1,000 to 2,000 pound animals. I carry up to two tons of hay in a day, 80 pounds at a time. I can lift a sick pig into the back of a truck, lug two 50-pound bags of feed at a time, and if a bucking horse throws me into the dirt, I'm back on again in two minutes flat ready to fight it out again. And even as a devout pacifist, if I feel one of my children is threatened, I can put a bullet in a target three acres away (and if I miss, the female veterinarian living on the other side of our property won't.) I know a lot of women who could do the same. Don’t ever question our strength, Rick, especially when we put a little emotion behind it.

Men, on the other hand, have a tendency to get too emotional to keep their priorities in order under the pressure of battle; I mean, you said it yourself, Mr. Santorum. And of course, you do know what you're talking about for both men and women, don't you? Unless, of course, the only example of female strength you’re familiar with is that set by Callista Gingrich.

You see, the women I hang with are a lot more like Sarah McKinley, as I believe the majority of women are.

And I haven’t even brought up the tremendous feat of childbirth, yet . . .

Kathleen Schurman owns Locket’s Meadow Farm in Bethany where she lives a life filled with “glamour” which is her cute little euphemism for “manure/mud/slime, etc.” When she is not writing for the Bethwood Patch she is shoveling glamour, teaching therapeutic riding and occasionally writing a book. But mostly, she’s shoveling glamour . . .


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