Hopefully, their support will drown out the cable news host's rhetoric and let female service members know that they are seen and valued.
When Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson made misogynistic comments about service members this week, it ignited a conversation online about women, their service, and the importance of military leaders speaking out against hateful rhetoric.
On Tuesday, Carlson shared his opinion that pregnant women in uniform make a "mockery of the U.S. military."
We wholeheartedly disagree. And so do a number of active military members, veterans, and legislators.
In a news briefing on Wednesday morning, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby condemned the remarks.
"I want to be very clear right up front, that the diversity of our military is one of our greatest strengths," he said. "I've seen it for myself in long months at sea and in the combat waged by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've seen it up on Capitol Hill just this past month. And I see it every day here right at the Pentagon."
"What we absolutely won't do is take personnel advice from a talk show host or the Chinese military," Kirby added. "Maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove — that's on them. We know we're the greatest military in the world today and even for all the things we need to improve, we know exactly why that's so."
Why did the Pentagon feel the need to offer such a strong statement?
Because it was necessary.
Because ignoring the cable host's rhetoric might arguably send the message that leaders agree with him.
When a senior Army leader tweeted in jest about not commenting on "click bait news pundits," one Soldier responded, pleading with him to stand up for her.
"See here's the thing: I need you to tweet about what Tucker Carlson said. You and every other Army male senior leader. I need you to refute him, by name," wrote the woman under the Twitter handle @LethalityJane.
"Because there are people in our formation and government who agree with him. Because this show gets played in DFACs."
DFAC is an acronym for dining facilities. The cable show is also played in gyms and offices across military installations worldwide.
"I have given over a decade of my life to this organization. So when a major news network anchor in a prime time slot on a show that gets played in places where I work and eat and go to the gym says this, I need the reassurance that you have my back," she continued.
"This isn't like amplifying trolls. Tucker Carlson is a mainstream voice in the American media. And he is saying that my existence, the existence of other female soldiers, and the modest efforts you are putting forth to improve our lives is a joke, a mockery."
"I need Army leaders to have my back on this one. And that doesn't mean ignoring it. It means calling him and his ignorance out, by name. It means standing up for us. Please."
She's absolutely right. Senior military leaders need to speak out against ignorant comments like these. They need to stand up for their service members—all of them.
In the wake of Carlson's comments, many leaders have refuted his opinion, including U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Scott Stalker, the Senior Enlisted Leader of United States Space Command.
In a clip that's gone viral, Master Gunnery Sgt. Stalker dismissed Carlson's opinion as "drama TV" and said, "let's remember those opinions were made by an individual who has never served a day in his life."
Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston appeared on CNN to rebuke Carlson's comments, too.
"We have the most lethal army in the world and that is because of our people--all of our people," he said. "So, I am extremely proud of all the women I have served within combat, that have been my commander in units across my 32-year career. So, I am extremely proud of all those women and I don't think those comments need to divide us as a military because we have the greatest military in the world."
In response to the Sergeant Major's comments, @LethalityJane tweeted, "This was pretty cool to see. I've seen a lot of casual sexism during my time in the Army, and a lot of people who tell me to 'stop being so hysterical' or 'stop whining' when I point it out. It's refreshing to have senior leaders call it out for what it is."
I haven't always had a sense of belonging in the Army. But when a leader stands up for you, it really does go a lon… https://t.co/zhQ95OpYbG— Lethality Jane (@Lethality Jane)1615505676.0
"I haven't always had a sense of belonging in the Army," she added. "But when a leader stands up for you, it really does go a long way to make you feel like part of the team. So today, for once, it feels like maybe 'This is my squad' means me, too."
It matters when leaders denounce hateful rhetoric.
It's about more than PR or simply saying the right thing.
It's about modeling leadership through action.
We ask so much of our military. We ask servicemembers to dedicate their careers and talents to their nation. We ask them to train 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to protect freedom. We ask that they be willing to lay down their lives, if necessary.
Female service members shouldn't have to ask their leadership to defend their existence within the military.
We're grateful to every service member, veteran, legislator, and citizen who contributed to the conversation this week, decrying Carlson's misogynistic comments.
Hopefully, their support will drown out his rhetoric and let female service members know that they are seen, supported, safe and valued.
I signed up to serve my country at 18. @TuckerCarlson did not. I served with women who risked their lives to prot… https://t.co/O4upvoFsYj— Rep. Mikie Sherrill (@Rep. Mikie Sherrill)1615486092.0
Contrary to what you may be hearing this 🇺🇸WOMAN & 1000's of 🇺🇸WOMEN like her are NOT "making a mockery of our mili… https://t.co/rtrxfC4omh— LTG Ted Martin (@LTG Ted Martin)1615398843.0
Hey @TuckerCarlson, this is my Squad and they’re @USArmy Strong. You’d be lucky to meet them. #VictoryStartsHere https://t.co/9TUfyuc0pz— GEN Paul E. Funk II (@GEN Paul E. Funk II)1615496652.0
Women lead our most lethal units with character. They will dominate ANY future battlefield we’re called to fight on… https://t.co/5cIpZ4pOo0— SMA Michael Grinston (@SMA Michael Grinston)1615435204.0
This Aussie aviatrix was lucky enough to fly with the USAF. Does that count as “feminizing” two militaries at the… https://t.co/0Vj0U8p7vA— Maz Jovanovich (@Maz Jovanovich)1615466750.0
I will unflinchingly go to war any day with these Combat Medics. #WomansHistoryMonth @PaulFunk2 @TRADOCCSM… https://t.co/nfMhQQvCAW— MG Dennis LeMaster (@MG Dennis LeMaster)1615474178.0
@pjellis88 @TuckerCarlson Here is a pic of my Army wife & I after a 5K near Ft Hood. I am the top overall male fini… https://t.co/m487mdVAa2— CSM Rocky Carr (@CSM Rocky Carr)1615466472.0
Our All-Volunteer Military depends on America’s daughters and sons willingness to serve and, if necessary, to put t… https://t.co/3fC6TBo9DB— GEN(R) Martin E. Dempsey (@GEN(R) Martin E. Dempsey)1615493784.0
For over 30 years I have been an Army Civilian and during that time I have served with men and women in uniform. Th… https://t.co/QXK4RL6mXJ— Under Sec Army (@Under Sec Army)1615499341.0
Gen. James McConville, asked about Tucker Carlson's comments about the "feminization" of the military, says that he… https://t.co/EVkdbixtaR— Dan Lamothe (@Dan Lamothe)1615495022.0
I’ve had 2 children while serving in the Army, deployed to 2 combat zones, advised commanders at home & in war, and… https://t.co/ccKCcmrTsA— Heather Tregle (@Heather Tregle)1615422983.0
During one of the worst days in my life in Afghanistan the person next to me protecting me and probably saving my l… https://t.co/FElpm2gx7Z— Joe Kassabian (@Joe Kassabian)1615426818.0
This is me, yesterday, conducting a re-enlistment for one of the tens of thousands of women who serve in our Army.… https://t.co/8tvYP06dVl— Patrick Donahoe (@Patrick Donahoe)1615428272.0
Every day women don a bomb suit designed for men, train and save lives. Proud that in April we’ll test the first su… https://t.co/fkciTKGiSK— David Silva (@David Silva)1615505906.0
I'll never forget the day in 2005 when @TuckerCarlson took control of a firefight near Baghdad, directing his team'… https://t.co/IOlKDvE86Z— J.D. Simkins (@J.D. Simkins)1615501295.0
Hey @TuckerCarlson , I have served this great nation for over 30 years, assisting, protecting, and defending in bot… https://t.co/0iMWLBXej7— Rebecca Myers (@Rebecca Myers)1615492529.0
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