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Rick Santorum's 'sexist' gaffe: Women are too emotional for combat

Irking critics, the GOP presidential candidate worries that female soldiers are unfit for the front lines because of the "emotions that are involved"

The video: The Pentagon announced new rules this week that officially allow 14,000 more female soldiers to take up combat positions closer to the front lines. In a Thursday interview, CNN's John King asked Rick Santorum whether this revised policy was a good or bad idea. (View video below.) "I do have concerns about women in frontline combat," the GOP presidential hopeful responded, saying the change could create a "very compromising situation," in which people "may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other emotions that are involved." As critics savaged him for insinuating that women were too emotional to handle frontline battle, Santorum insisted Friday that his statements were taken out of context. What he really meant, he says, is that he's concerned about a man's natural instinct to protect "a woman in harm's way."

The reaction: This is a "blatantly sexist argument," says Jessica Wakeman at The Frisky, akin to "1800s-era justifications for why women shouldn't vote or own property. Heads up, Rick: Women are already ably serving in combat roles; now they can just do so "officially." The comments obviously won't sit well with women who work in male-dominated fields, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. They may, however, "please some social conservatives who were never that keen on women serving in the military" in the first place. Santorum was really faulting men for failing to control their emotions, says Ann Althouse at Althouse. His valid argument is that men will feel "an urge to protect women that would skew decision-making and performance." Watch the video below:

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