Last weekend, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta said of reports on increased sexual assaults against women in the military: "Now, what did they expect? These people are in close contact." Trotta also said that "we have women once more, the feminist, going, wanting to be warriors and victims at the same time" and later added that feminists "have also directed them, really, to spend a lot of money. They have sexual counselors all over the place, victims' advocates, sexual response coordinators. ... You have this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much." Trotta's remarks received widespread condemnation.
On the February 19 edition of Fox's America's News HQ, Trotta responded to the criticism. She said that the intent of her remarks was not to say that "all military men are rapists," but to express that "the environment of combat, by definition, sets up a situation where basic instincts rule. The niceities of male-female interaction fade in this arena, and any scientist will tell you that testosterone rules." Trotta claimed that "most" of her critics "have no experience with the subject" of women in the military.
Trotta went on to claim that "the political correctness infecting the Pentagon has resulted in silly and dishonest fairy tales about female heroism," citing the case of Jessica Lynch, an Army private who was captured during the Iraq war. The Pentagon "saw fit to send in the SEALs to rescue" Lynch, even though "by all accounts including her own" she was not being "mistreated," Trotta said, and the rescue was done "in a videotaped operation that seemed headed straight to Hollywood." Trotta added: "There are countless other stories of fake heroism or exaggerated prowess in which women are the stars, many of them tailored for The New York Times and its agenda to promote militant feminism no matter what the truth."
From the February 19 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
TROTTA: This is a subject that has never gotten a fair and open hearing, either in the national media or in Congress. Starting in 1991 with Rep. Patricia Schroeder, a Democrat from Colorado, the hardline feminists have seen to it that the subject is a fait accompli, a matter already settled, one that must not be aired before the American people. The leftist thinking seems to be that if a subject isn't discussed, then it obviously isn't there. Their main objective is to force the Pentagon to lift the ban on women in combat.
Accordingly, the political correctness infecting the Pentagon has resulted in silly and dishonest fairy tales about female heroism. Has anyone forgotten the Jessica Lynch story? A PFC captured by the Iraqis and by all accounts, including her own, not mistreated. Yet the Pentagon saw fit to send in the SEALs to rescue her from a hospital in a videotaped operation that seemed headed straight to Hollywood. There are countless other stories of fake heroism or exaggerated prowess in which women are the stars, many of them tailored for The New York Times and its agenda to promote militant feminism no matter what the truth.
ERIC SHAWN (host): Well, you know, you were the first woman network news reporter in Vietnam. You were fired at, you were out there living with the troops. Did you ever feel threatened?
TROTTA: Well, you know, dragging out credentials is not something I feel comfortable doing, but this situation demands it. I did do three tours of duty in Vietnam back in the 1960s as a correspondent for NBC News. Troops in combat are what I covered, and it is troops that I will always admire and support, because of this experience. I also covered Israeli troops in combat during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the British Army in the Northern Ireland troubles in the 1970s, the India-Pakistan war in 1971, the Grenada invasion in 1983, et cetera, et cetera.
In those days, you see, networks had the money and commitment to send correspondents into wherever a shot was fired. So covering combat was very much on the foreign correspondent's daily menu. There is an enormous difference between covering war as a correspondent and fighting it as a soldier. So my outlook is one of the reporter and writer.
In Indochina, we ate, marched, and lived with the troops from all the U.S. services. They earned my respect and returned it. There was no embedding, no censorship. We virtually roamed free in the areas of operation. As a result, I'm very sensitive to the needs of the forces and the political chicanery of the feminist left. The military is not a social services operation or a testing ground for gender wars. It is a fighting machine. Yet male troops are now encumbered with the realities of feminist biology. Women are not as strong as men; their instincts and reactions in crisis are markedly different. It is a reality the left will not face -- biology is destiny.
SHAWN: Then why do you think some people found the remarks offensive?
TROTTA: Well, all I can reason is that, firstly, most have no experience with the subject. Making war is a deadly, unforgiving business. By necessity, the atmosphere of war is amoral and visceral. It's a hothouse of adrenaline and close-up violence.
Secondly, many supporters of women in combat conflate this issue with issues of a woman's right to choose; women's right to control their bodies, et cetera, et cetera, in the feminist creed. There is no such thing as a difference between men and women, the way they see it. Oh, then why do you suppose the physical requirements in basic training are less demanding for women? It's not only unfair, it's dangerous. Underlying all of this argument is the reality that experience in combat is also a must for military promotion. So, careerism is a major factor in the defense of women in combat. If you want to advance in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, you'd better get with the program.
SHAWN: Well, among the criticisms, the Vietnam Veterans of America group says they are, quote, enraged that you would condone criminal acts, they say. A Time magazine blog said that you were, quote, essentially saying all military men are rapists. What's your reaction to these type of comments, and do you feel that you were misunderstood?
TROTTA: Yes, very much so. I certainly did not say all military men are rapists. What I believe and tried to express, apparently not well enough, is that the environment of combat by definition sets up a situation where basic instincts rule. The niceties of male-female interaction fade in this arena, and any scientist will tell you that testosterone rules. If common sense won't be applied to the whole question of women in the forces, consider the escalating incidents of sexual abuse at the three military academies. And if that's not enough, then how about a report released last month by the Pentagon indicating a 64 percent increase in violent sexual assaults in the Army since 2006? Well, the report said there were 3,191 reports of sexual assault last year. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta added that, realistically, the number is probably around 19,000.
His answer to the problem is better training for military lawyers as well as sexual counselors and expansion of the never-enough bureaucracy that exists to support women victims in the Armed Forces. These are facts, not emotions. And while I defend my critics' right to their opinions, they should be informed by facts and nothing less.
SHAWN: Well, there is no question that all men and women who risk their lives to protect us ought to be admired and certainly deserve every protection we can give them.
TROTTA: The best protection would be to pry open this subject for an honest discussion. Why won't the Pentagon release the annual number of pregnancies among women in the forces? Especially those in the field. And why is there not a study on how children react when mommy goes off to war -- and sometimes both mommy and daddy. Everyone talks about the American family shattering, but it will not face what is happening to the forces for fear of, again, political correctness.
Before we start throwing money at new ways to support this feminist idea, let's stop the hypocrisy and see the facts. Something is drastically wrong here, and both men and women are victims of the irrational claims of angry feminists. If the whole subject of women in combat cannot be given an open hearing, then it's left to journalists to do their homework and start discussing it honestly. They might even consider what former Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Barrow told Congress in 1991. He said, women give life, sustain life, nurture life. They don't take it.