Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 27, 2014

Senator’s ‘Hormone’ Comment Whacked by House Republican

A senior House Republican is taking aim at a senior Senate Republican for suggesting the “hormone level” of young soldiers sets the stage for sexual assault.

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, a leader on combating sexual violence in the armed forces, issued a statement that his spokesman characterized as one that “slammed” remarks made earlier in the day by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

During an Armed Services Committee hearing, Chambliss had suggested that high libidos characteristic in young men entering branches of the military could lead to them seeking inappropriate outlets for their sexual energy — in this case through rape and other instances of sexual aggression against their female counterparts.

“These young folks coming in … are anywhere from 17 to 22 to 23,” he said in the context of larger discussions on how the military should be required to handle allegations of misconduct in this regard. “Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.”

Turner responded in just four sentences.

“It’s simple; criminals are responsible for sexual assaults, not hormones,” he said in his statement. “Perpetuating this line of thinking does nothing to help change the culture of our military. We must be focused on combating this issue directly. The numbers speak for themselves.”

As CQ Roll Call’s Megan Scully reports in Tuesday’s story on the Senate hearing, the military estimates that 26,000 sexual assaults occurred within its ranks in 2012 — a 37 percent spike over 2010.

This is not the first time that a Republican has come under fire for trying to explain policy positions in the context of sexual assault.

Last summer, then-Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., lost what might have been a successful bid to oust Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., for defending his opposition to all abortion, even in instances of rape, by saying that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy because, in those cases, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Chambliss, meanwhile, said recently that he would not seek re-election in 2014.

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