WOMEN AND GUNS: In the Trenches with Newt [revisited]

[This is cheating—–running a Tygerpen column from a few years ago (12/1/2011)—— but I couldn’t resist, based on today’s headline: “Women to Serve in Combat.”
I’m hoping that doesn’t mean lattes and frappuccinos.]

A January 19, 1995 New York Times article reported that Newt Gingrich, while teaching a history course at Georgia’s Reinhardt College, raised concerns about women in military combat roles.  The Times reported Gingrich told his students that “females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections…”

True, it was years ago when Newt made the remark. But remembering his controversial cautionary remarks, I worried about my niece Melissa who’s planning on a career in the Army. Did she know about these infections?

To put my mind at rest, I called the local Army Recruiting station.

“Do women in combat who stay in ditches for 30 days get infections,” I asked Sergeant Renfro, the officer in charge, “like Newt Gingrich has said?”

“M’am, I don’t believe that’s what Mr. Gingrich said,” the sergeant replied uncomfortably. “From all our information, Mr. Gingrich said women get inspections after 30 days in a ditch.”

I was relieved. Later than night, I heard on local news the old quote attributed to Newt.

The next day I called my gynecologist.

“What kind of infections do women get in the trenches, like Newt Gingrich once said?” I asked.

He laughed. “Don’t believe everything you read, just like the conflicting reports on medical research. I’m sure Gingrich said women get injections after 30 days in a ditch. After all, there’s a lot of bugs in those close quarters.”

I felt a lot better until I watched a news commentary show on CNN. Republicans and Democrats were yelling back and forth while the commentator pretended to keep order. One of the Democrats attacked Newt for his women-in-combat remarks at Reinhart College.

That was it. I FAXED a polite note to Joe McQuaid, publisher of New Hampshire’s only statewide newspaper, the influential Union Leader, who has endorsed Gingrich’s bid for President.

“How could you support a Neanderthal like Gingrich?” I wrote.

One of McQuaid’s assistants Faxed back swiftly. “Regret that Gingrich was clearly misquoted. He really said women get confections after 30 days in a ditch. Candy from home, chocolates.”

That put my mind at rest until I went to a party and heard several angry women remember Newt’s “infection” comment.

“Don’t worry, “  I said, “It was all a silly mistake.” But I agreed to call up Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s office. Deal is one of the few powerhouses who has endorsed Newt’s candidacy.

“Of course Newt didn’t say that, “the Governor’s aide said. “What Newt said was, women get directions after 30 days in a ditch. They get their marching orders.”

At dinner that night, my friend Michael, a loyal Republican, was adamant. “No politician, particularly one as high up as Newt Gingrich, would ever say something so stupid, sexist and unfounded. The press is just out to nail him, to dredge up all the old garbage.”

“You’re right,” I replied. “But I wish I knew exactly what he said. None of the Republicans seem to agree on what he said.”

“So call Speaker Boehner’s office.”

The next day I did, cautious that Boehner was not a Gingrich fan. But surely the House majority leader would know Newt’s history.

A young man answered. “Oh, yes, that was quite a flap,” he remarked, over the rustle of paper. “Mr. Gingrich actually said women get inflections after 30 days in a ditch. Their voices get louder from being underground.”

Still uneasy, I called my niece.

“I know your heart is set on the service,” I told her, “but if you go into combat and get stuck in a ditch, you may have a problem.”

“Oh, yeah, “ she replied, “but I’m not worried. I remember Newt Gingrich’s comments. That men have problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get erections. Hey, war is hell on everybody.”

About these ads

6 responses to “WOMEN AND GUNS: In the Trenches with Newt [revisited]

  1. Be sure and run that in 2016 when it becomes a reality. Funny, funny, stuff.

  2. Hi Sunshine,
    This has been one of those posts that keeps getting looked at by readers even though it goes back a ways. Good to see that “Women in Combat” is back in the news. Whether one agrees with that idea or not, Newt provided me with hours of fun that led to the post.
    XXXX T

  3. So flawlessly and wittily written leading the reader to a perfect climax! Loved it.

  4. “Perfect climax”?? You bad girl!!
    Say, I heard Newt, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin are going to be jointly teaching a class in fiction called “Women’s Anatomy.” Sign up! XXXX T

  5. Funny stuff… thanks for the smiles.

  6. Hi K,
    Always makes MY day to hear from you! Almost as good as a hot fudge
    sundae. Tough choice, but I don’t get 1200 calories from you.
    XXXXX Trudo

LEAVE A REPLY

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s