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February 24th, 2012

Last night my husband and I were watching Downton Abbey, season 2, episode 4.* A non-spoiler-y version of what happened: two of the male characters are on the front lines of WWI and they’re about to attack enemy lines. They charge out of the trench while bullets zinged and bombs rain down. And as I watched bodies being thrown left and right, I thought: “If Rick Santorum has his way, women will never be on that front line.” And that makes me so incredibly angry.

For anyone not following this particular piece of news, a couple of weeks ago Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum said women shouldn’t serve in combat roles. His words: “I do have concerns about women in frontline combat. I think that could be a very compromising situation where people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved…. I think that's probably not in the best interests of men, women, or the mission.” (Go here to listen.) Seriously, Mr. Santorum? SERIOUSLY? Later he backtracked and said he meant men's emotions, or essentially that when the bullets start flying male soldiers are going to be so worried about female soldiers on the battle field, they will just try to save the women rather than focus on winning the battle. I don’t have any way of knowing if this is true, but I have faith that the men who serve our military will do their job. And if that job involves engaging an enemy in fire, our soldiers will do it no matter the sex of the person standing beside them.

It’s interesting to watch Downton Abbey and see how women are treated, to consider that a woman’s right to vote was an issue at one point. I cannot imagine living in a world where I couldn’t vote, where my husband and I weren’t on equal footing. Thankfully, I don’t have to imagine it. I can watch Downton Abbey and fall in love with the characters but know the world they live in has passed, and women have a much stronger place in society now.

But people such as Rick Santorum threaten some of our rights. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to his own opinion on birth control and abortion and women in the military – but I don’t want him to inflict his opinions on me. Rick Santorum’s beliefs will set women’s rights back decades. I tend to vote Republican more than Democrat, but I will wear an Obama sandwich-board if Santorum is the Republican candidate for President.  

*Yes we’re behind