When Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was sworn into Congress last month, she became the first disabled woman in the House of Representatives. A veteran of the war in Iraq, she lost both her legs in combat as a helicopter pilot. After returning to the US, she served in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and then launched her successful campaign for Congress. She was also the subject of a great interview in the New York Times magazine this week that made clear: You do not mess with Tammy Duckworth. Here are our favorite three questions and answers, in which Duckworth explains what’s sexist, what’s sexual harassment, and why whining against women in combat “doesn’t make any sense at all.”
1. You were not particularly happy when pilots you flew with called you Mommy Platoon Leader. Did you consider this sexual harassment?
Oh, please. No, it’s not. They were just giving me a hard time, because I served hot cocoa. Do you know what? That hot cocoa got my pilots and crew chiefs warm faster, my crews took off faster and they were more deadly. If marshmallows and blowing kisses on the hot cocoa made my men more deadly, I would have done that too.
2. The retired four-star general Volney Warner, who helped integrate women into the Army division he commanded in the ’70s and has since lost a granddaughter in Afghanistan, said recently that “women are better at giving life than taking it.”
I think it’s sexist. It’s insulting to men. Men view life to be as precious as women do, and to say that men have a more violent nature is insulting to men.
3. There has been a good deal of hand-wringing about the recent ruling opening up combat positions to women. Some argue that since there are a limited number of frontline combat jobs, women shouldn’t replace men there.
It doesn’t make any sense at all. All this ruling does is give everyone the chance to do these jobs. You want to be infantry? Here, carry this 80-pound rucksack and march 20 miles. Can you drag a 200-pound dead weight 200 yards like you may have to? If you can do it, and if you’re willing to lay your life down for this nation, then I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, black, white, yellow, male or female, good for you, thank you for serving. Go do the job.
Photo: Navy Times