I have been a strong and vocal supporter of equal rights for all: whites and blacks, straights and gays, men and women.
With respect to the latter, men and women, I am delighted at how far women have come in recent years at achieving full equality with men.
I am also pleased at how women are increasingly accepted and integrated into our armed forces, albeit they still have a long way to go here—as noted in “Full Participation for Our Women at Arms.”
I have also strongly supported women serving aboard our nuclear submarines and in other “non-traditional” assignments and positions of responsibility.
And I have admiringly pointed to the number of women who voluntarily (and otherwise) have engaged in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan: over 220,000. Sadly, according to the Associated Press, at least 120 of these ladies have died in those wars.
Finally, and for the record, I am in favor of reintroducing the military draft. While the draft will certainly not end all wars, it will, in my opinion—when war is absolutely necessary—spread the cost and sacrifice more equitably among Americans.
Having said all this, I would strongly oppose requiring women to register with the Selective Service (when they turn 18) and become eligible for the draft when and if it gets reinstated.
You may call this “talking out of both sides of my mouth” with respect to equal rights and responsibilities for women and “having your cake and eat it too,” from a woman’s standpoint—and you may be right.
Many readers may agree with Austin American-Statesman columnist Ken Herman who recently wrote, “Allow me to hold the door open for women so they can register for draft.”
In his column, Herman praises the fact that “many legal and societal barriers that locked women out of many opportunities have fallen during [his] lifetime,” and almost immediately raises the question:
So how come they don’t have to register with Selective Service when they turn 18? Maybe I missed it, but when was the parade/demonstration in which women demanded to be equal with males when it comes to potential mandatory military service?
Herman proceeds to list some interesting historical facts about the Selective Service and the draft as they relate to women and, obviously sensing an inequity here, concludes:
So here’s where we stand on military service: Men must register and would have to serve if the draft is reinstated. Women do not register and can’t be required to serve if the draft is reinstated.
Anybody see gender equity here? What color ribbon do I wear to display my support for gender equity when it comes to mandatory military service?
Herman makes a good argument, one that is hard to rebut with cold, hard facts and logic.
But something in my gut, in my male psyche, tells me that while it is admirable that so many women want to serve in the military, even in hazardous and combat assignments—and we should not stop those who wish to do so—as a society we must not systematically, en masse draft women into our fighting forces.
Call me old-fashioned, but perhaps it has something to do with the sentiments evoked in men by the words wife, mother, daughter, and by the fact that men have always, without equivocation, been their protectors.
What are your thoughts? But, first, read Herman’s column in its entirety for yourself, in case I missed some nuances.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.