Men's Rights Activists often bring up the historical (and possible future) use of conscription, and are often dismissed for doing so. But is their reasoning without merit?
A while ago, I stumbled on a video from TheTruePooka attacking MRAs such as myself for “blaming feminists for the male-only draft.” This leads me to wonder if maybe there is a problem with people listening when a woman speaks.
Very few MRAs, myself especially, actually blame feminism for something that’s been happening throughout most of history, and we don’t even lay blame on feminism for being unable to change that situation. I certainly never have.
Feminists DO, however, get criticized by MRAs for their marginalization of the draft and their dismissal of it and other traditional male obligations when they are offensively speaking about so-called historical “male privilege” and “patriarchy.” So let me try to spell this out for everybody so we can clear the air a bit.
So, Pooka, it wasn’t even 90 seconds into your video when you drop this astounding strawman: “Lately the people who are putting this argument forward are saying it with an implied hostile tone that suggests that America’s male-only draft is the fault of women, especially feminists.”
Now, I’m not going to say there isn’t a hostile tone involved, but I could have stopped watching right there. This is what I don’t get at all. I mean, I’ve had people in the comments of my “Feminism and the disposable male” video accuse me of blaming feminism for male disposability. I’m as perplexed by how they can possibly draw that conclusion from a video in which I clearly state that “male disposability has been around since ‘the dawn of time,'” as I am by how the primary reason MRAs bring up the draft escapes so many people.
Now, some MRAs do criticize feminism for not having pushed for an equivalent female obligation to society to the one that acted as the primary justification for universal male suffrage, and for the lowering of the voting age to 18. Many of them feel that the suffragettes should have kicked and screamed a lot harder for such an obligation, especially since when suffragists were agitating for the vote for women, huge numbers of male soldiers fighting and dying in World War I on behalf of countries with universal male suffrage did not have the vote, because they were under the age of 21. Suffragette leader Christabel Pankhurst even took a break from agitating for female suffrage to hand out white feathers to teenage boys to shame them into enlisting in a war that killed millions, many of whom did not have the vote.
To her credit, she also advocated mandatory “war work” for women, but was somehow less successful in that effort, which she seems to have effectively abandoned once women had the franchise. Huh.
And this is where we come to the real issue, Pooka. The real reason MRAs being up the draft. It’s not to blame women, or blame feminists. It is simply, and plainly, a refutation of the feminist concept of historical male privilege and female subjugation. From the website “great war fiction”, regarding Britain’s white feather campaign:
What is significant about the involvement of the suffragettes is that it makes explicit what was otherwise unspoken – women were claiming the right to inform males of their duty, and were demanding that they fulfill the obligation implied in the restriction of full citizenship and the franchise to males, the obligation to defend their womenfolk.
In other words, the white feather girls and the suffragettes understood that men had political franchise and women did not *because men had a duty to go to war to protect women.*
I find it strange how the suffragettes seemed to have forgotten that men and men alone had been burdened with this obligation–to protect their womenfolk and act as cannon fodder in the interests of their governments, according to their individual will or against it–long before universal male suffrage was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. But there you have it: Men had the vote and women did not, so men had better be prepared to suit up and do their duty.
When the US government began sentencing draft dodgers to life imprisonment, years in penal labor camps, and death, a group of anarchists challenged the constitutionality of the draft. Their challenge failed. In the Court’s decision, it was stated that:
It may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government and its duty to the citizen includes the reciprocal obligation of the citizen to render military service in case of need, and the right to compel it. … To do more than state the proposition is absolutely unnecessary in view of the practical illustration afforded by the almost universal legislation to that effect now in force.
In other words, men enjoyed the rights and privileges of citizenship granted by government *because they paid for it through the reciprocal obligation of the draft.* And the court considered this bargain to be so self-evident, it need do no more than state it.
As late as 1917, the US government was executing men who refused to fulfil the obligation they owed in return for the right to full legal person-hood in the eyes of the state.
Three years later, women won the vote. Without even the obligation to do “war work” like sewing uniforms, or community service like picking up litter from the sides of highways.
Do you get that, Pooka? Three years before women won the vote, the “privileged” class was still being sentenced to death for refusing an obligation that women have never been burdened with. An obligation they bore in exchange for full, but conditional, legal personhood in the eyes of the government.
That was the “privileged class,” Pooka. The “oppressed” class got the vote 2 years after the end of a war where thousands upon thousands of young men died without franchise. And before you argue that women were not “allowed” to make this bargain with the state, I’ll remind you that men were not “allowed” to refuse it.
And I think what really gets me is in your video you claim that Selective Service: you just came to accept it as “part of becoming an adult.” Not for women, only for men.
Now, it would seem to me that a class of people who get something valuable for essentially nothing, for the grand accomplishment of turning 18, might be viewed as privileged, and the class of people who, if they had the temerity to decline the bargain–the whole draft in exchange for citizenship and political franchise thing–got the gallows, are the ones who might have had some problems with society’s conditional view of their personhood.
You spend the rest of your video beating what is largely a strawman, expounding on feminism’s struggle to win women the *right* to serve in the military and in combat. Up until 1973 in the U.S., that was never a right for men, Pooka. It was an obligation that hung over the heads of young men since before the feudal age. Like the *right* to earn income women won over the last century was and still is an obligation for men. Like the *right* to financial independence feminists worked so hard to achieve for women was and still is an obligation for men.
This is why MRAs bring up the draft, and when discussing the draft–or Coverture, or traditional gender roles, for that matter–MRAs seem actively hostile to feminists and resentful of the new position women enjoy in society.
Because oddly enough, for all of feminism’s successes, they haven’t been that interested in acquiring obligations for women, and society isn’t especially interested in imposing them, either–which kind of smells like Female Privilege. The social and legal obligation a man had to provide for the material needs of his family is one feminists don’t seem to want to impose on any those women who choose to make families on their own, or choose to take the leadership of those families by expelling the fathers of their children. On the contrary, organizations like N.O.W. support or ignore the continuation of paternal obligation while simultaneously agitating for continued erosion of paternal rights—that would be the family equivalent of reinstating the draft while revoking male political franchise.
And now we live in a system where the government will deny a father the right to involvement with his children if the mother wants it badly enough, while simultaneously requiring he provide for them, and jailing him if he fails.
Feminists still call this system “Patriarchy,” and describe it using terms like “Male privilege” and “female oppression”, because the top 1% of society happens to be mostly male. Of the thousands of men who were sent to war without political franchise, two years before women were handed their right to vote for nothing, they apply the minimizing and insulting phrase “patriarchy hurts men too.”
That’s why MRAs bring up the draft, Pooka. Not to blame women or feminists for America’s male-only draft, but to remind them that getting the vote without being required to die for it if necessary is not f***ing oppression, and neither is having to wait a mere 50 years longer to be handed something that men were still required to pay for with their lives. That having to trade your autonomy or your life for your political franchise *is not privilege*–it’s a sh** deal. So sh** a deal I wonder how many men would have taken it if Uncle Sam hadn’t been willing to run them up a gibbet if they refused.
And the fact that feminists can incessantly moan about the oppression of women, partly based on the fact that since the beginning recorded history, women had to wait less than 1% longer than men did for their own, obligation-free political franchise, and can be taken seriously by anyone, is the very definition of “social privilege.”
A social privilege to not be called on their bull***t even when their advocacy tramples on the rights of others. For crying out loud, we live in a society where a woman whose sole claim to notoriety derives from her complaining that the government–of a country that supposedly values the separation of church and state, no less–won’t force the Catholic church to subsidize her sex life, where that woman is given the podium at the Democratic Convention, all while the sisterhood bitches and moans that women have no voice in society.
The very fact that society is willing to indulge this level of cognitive dissonance simply because the lunatics spouting it claim to represent women as a group is a testimonial to Female Social Privilege, Pooka. As is the fact that after less than a year of doing this, I have the largest following of any Men’s Rights Movement channel on Youtube.
I watched the video you made about stalking and harassment. The fact that you were prepared to take a punch from a 300 pound man to protect your wife: that’s Female Privilege, Pooka, and it’s a privilege you almost certainly would not have enjoyed had the situation been reversed. As is the fact that you–someone who claims to be sympathetic to men’s rights issues–could spend an entire video talking about stalking and harassment *of women*, as if it is solely a problem that women have to deal with. That’s also about female privilege, Pooka.
You effectively erased and ignored male victims of stalking in your video, and while most victims of this kind of harassment are women, “most” is not “all.” The very fact that you would DO that and not realize someone might call you on it shows the privileged position women hold when it comes to society’s desire to protect its members. I have an acquaintance with an 18 year old son who could tell you a thing or two about being stalked and then screwed over by the system, if you wanted. At least you and your wife weren’t facing felony charges despite a mountain of phone records, alibi witnesses, and email and voicemail evidence proving you were the one being harassed, simply because your stalker was a young woman and you were a young man.
“Male privilege” is a load of s**t, Pooka, because none of those perks that men enjoyed through history, none of those perks and benefits came for free, just for having a penis. They were bought and paid for.
So guess what? Whenever ANYONE whines about “male privilege,” or kvetches about how women didn’t get the vote the same afternoon men did, I’m gonna bring up the f***ing draft. And the very fact that you could see that as an attack on feminism so egregious that you’d feel compelled to defend those feminists by beating strawmen, and complaining about how women don’t have the right to choose to serve their country, when for most of history men didn’t have any choice about the matter once their government called them to serve?
Well, I’d tell you to check your privilege, but that would be stupid, wouldn’t it?
SO let’s review: almost no one has ever said feminists are responsible for the draft. What they do take issue with is the constant whinging about women not being handed the vote as soon or even sooner than SOME men, without acknowledging historical realities that for men, the vote always came with an OBLIGATION. An obligation society never demanded, and still does not demand, of women.
Feminists demand rights and privileges for women, but do not accept obligation. Instead, they kick the s**t out of men and call them privileged even when men had to pay for that privilege with life and limb. Clear enough?
Below is a a video version of this essay, with some non-related introductory material on how to help your fellow MRAs, and some more such stuff on the end:
A Voice for Men’s fundraiser:
Donate to Family of Men/Men’s Alternative Safe House (Calgary):
Great War Fiction on the White Feather Campaign:
Feminism and the disposable male transcript & video:
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Note: I am once again pleased to have created and provided the above transcript for my friend Karen, aka Girl Writes What. By the way, “MRM” is “Men’s Rights Movement” and “MRA” is “Men’s Rights Activist” (or Advocate)–shutterstock.com
Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice