Conservative columnist George Will on Sunday argued that women should not be allowed in combat because of "certain anatomical facts," ignoring that ABC Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz had pointed out that she interviewed female service members who were capable of carrying "6-foot, 4-inch Marines."
Appearing on an ABC News panel, Will told Raddatz that the military was effectively lowering the bar by lifting the ban on women in combat, even though the Pentagon had said both men and women would be subjected to the same physical standards.
"That's what they always say," Will opined. "Let me give you an example. No Child Left Behind said we're going to have 100 percent proficiency by 2014 in reading and math in the schools. And the scary thing is we might because the only way we'll get there is because is by dumbing down the standards, which is actually underway. 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?"
"Give you an example, you've been out, Martha, in these combat zones?" he continued. "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."
"Okay, can I tell you something, though, George," Raddatz interrupted. "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..."
"Okay, that's fine," Will replied, dismissing Raddatz' argument. "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."
Will's assertion was met by groans from the ABC panel.
"Those anatomical facts are averages," NPR's Steve Inskeep explained. "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."
Watch the video below from CNN's State of the Union, broadcast Jan. 27, 2013.