Christine O’Donnell in 1995: Women In Military Colleges Damage National Security

Chalk up another instance of the religious right not being dead. Christine O’Donnell’s victory last night in Delaware — Delaware! — shows that it’s alive and well, and the tea party loves it. Or at least loves its protégés.

O’Donnell is a former press secretary for Concerned Women for America, the group founded in the 1980s by Armageddon fantasist Tim LaHaye’s wife Beverly to train conservative Christian women for political activism. In a 1995 appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, O’Donnell, appearing as CWA’s press secretary, stated that women are detrimental to military readiness. 

The appearance took place just as Shannon Faulkner, the first female cadet at the military college The Citadel, left the institution just days after enrolling. Faulkner had sued to gain entry to the all-male, publicly-funded stronghold, only to depart shortly after matriculating due to abuse and exhaustion.

O’Donnell, when asked by the moderator whether taxpayer-funded, single-sex military institutions were constitutional, said:

I think they’re definitely constitutional and I think they’re vital to the security of our country and to the defense of our country. By integrating women into particularly military institutes, it cripples the readiness of our defense. Schools like The Citadel train young men to confidently lead other young men into a battlefield where one of them will die. And when you have women in that situation, it creates a whole new set of dynamics which are distracting to training these men to kill or be killed. And these dynamics between men and women are what make the relationship between men and women beautiful. So I don’t think that we should try to desensitize men to the differences.

In response to a critique of sex discrimination by Hannah Olanoff of the National Organization for Women, O’Donnell replied, “It’s an honor to be a lady. That’s a beautiful part of womanhood is to be ladylike.” She insisted that West Point “has had to lower their standards … in order for men and women to compete.” By lowering standards, she added, “we have reduced the effectiveness of our military.”

She continued, “You will cripple the defense of our country if you lower the standards at all.”

O’Donnell further claimed that women have a special role in society, just not in military combat, citing the special role of mothers. “When you remove the role of the mother, the family is left to crumble,” she said, blaming even declining SAT scores on this alleged phenomenon.

You can watch the whole thing here (relevant clip begins at 16:44).

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email