The comments follow a speech for International Women’s Day by President Joe Biden during which Biden went over recent efforts to better accommodate women in the military. “We need the young women just beginning their careers in the military service to see it and know that no door will be closed to them,” Biden said Monday. “… We need little girls and boys both who have grown up dreaming of serving for their country to know that this is what generals in the United States armed forces look like.”
Carlson criticized the changes as a picture of a female Air Force officer, who was wearing an artificial bump while modeling a flight suit designed for pregnant women, was displayed on the screen. While the changes are just garnering widespread attention, the Air Force has been working on buying maternity flight suits since 2019, the year it announced that it would allow pilots to continue flying longer into their pregnancies without a waiver.
Following Carlson’s comments, military members and leaders both took to social media to blast the misogynist. The Pentagon even commented on the issue.
“We pledge to do better, and we will,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday. Kirby noted that the military had “a lot of work to do” to become “more inclusive, more respectful of everyone — especially women … What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host, or the Chinese military. Maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove. That’s on them,” he added.
But most noteworthy response was Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s clap back to Carlson on Thursday.
“F— Tucker Carlson,” Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, tweeted. “While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women.”
This isn’t the first time Carlson came after women in the military, or Duckworth specifically. Last year, when Duckworth was in the running for Biden’s presidential pick, Carlson targeted her on not one but two shows, calling her a “coward” amongst other names. In response to his comments, Duckworth published an op-ed in The New York Times.
As a retired lieutenant colonel who served 23 years in the Illinois Army National Guard, Duckworth lost her legs when her helicopter was shot down over Iraq in 2004.
Women make up about 16% of the armed forces. Following Carlson’s demeaning comments toward women in the armed forces, the U.S. Army’s official Twitter account as well as women and those who served alongside them took to Twitter to share stories of women’s resilience.
When reporters asked Kirby if he felt Carlson owed an apology to women serving in the military, Kirby said he hopes Carlson is acknowledging the responses armed forces officials and members are having. “I would hope … that he’ll realize the mistake he made and express some regret about the manner in which he essentially demeaned the entire U.S. military, and how we defend and how we serve this country,” he said.