There was an important conversation on Capitol Hill between the nation's top military officials, the Senate Armed Services committee, and a bunch of other men today — the senior senator from Georgia among them — but Saxby Chambliss, in what was surely the most astonishing moment of a hearing on the sexual assault crisis in the armed forces, essentially blamed military rapes on "the hormone level created by nature." Here's the full quote:
The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we've got to be very careful how we address it on our side.
Make no mistake: Chambliss, as The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel notes, spent much of a long day behind the deis decrying the recent string of reports out of the Pentagon and analyzing a pending bill to do something about the epidemic. But Chambliss's phrasing almost sounded as if he wanted to defend the attackers: "[H]is comments echo the "boys will be boys" mentality that has been used throughout the years to dismiss sexual harassment and assault and avoid taking action to prevent them," Terkel writes.
Blaming rapes on nature and hormones also paints the sad picture that men are somehow naturally inclined to becoming rapists. "You want your misandry? I'll give you your misandry: Thinking that male hormones make men rapists is straight-up misandry," tweeted The Daily Beast's Amanda Hauser.
Chambliss, of course, is known for running his mouth. Back during a debate on same-sex marriage in March, the retiring Senator stated: "I'm not gay ... So I'm not going to marry one." Those words prompted a pretty great Stephen Colbert segment.
But Chambliss outdid himself today, nearly hijacking a hearing with much more at stake. Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand — one of a few very key women on a committee in a room otherwise visually dominated by men — had the runner-up quote of the marathon hearings, stating: "Not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape." And that would get attention any other day when Chambliss wasn't busy giving America his best Todd Akin.
Here's the full video: