Another battleground for gender equality | Image: US Government / Selective Service Publications, CC0 (Public Domain)
In September, I wrote about how particular brands of bad people like to point out all of the “privileges” women have. The one “privilege” that MRAs like to think of as the their trump card (or perhaps more accurately, their Drumpf card) is obligatory service in the military. “But if women are equal,” they say, their eyes already promising the “gotcha” that is coming, “shouldn’t they register for the draft?” It takes some of the wind out of their sails when I say, “Yeah, they should.” And now we’re one step closer to that happening, as the latest defense authorization bill to pass the Senate includes a provision that requires women to register for the Selective Services.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-draft. I think that basically any time you have a fighting service made up of people who seriously don’t want to be there, you’re in trouble before you even get started. And that’s not even touching on my many, many objections to the military-industrial complex. But I am pro-equality. And “equal” doesn’t mean “protecting the gentle women-folk from wars and fighting.” I think that women should be able to fill all roles in the military, and I think it is only fair that women face the same potential call-to-service that men face. Women have long been considered unfit for certain roles or for the draft thanks to sexist stereotypes about women being weaker and needing protection. And while I’ll admit that the average woman has less muscle mass than the average man, I dare you to tell Serena Williams that she isn’t strong to her face. Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver proved that women are capable of being Rangers, which means they’re capable of being just about anything else in the military, too.
Now there’s no guarantee that this bill will make it into law; the House also looked at requiring women to register for the draft in the House version of the defense authorization bill, and decided against it. So even if it moves forward, the two different bills will have to be made to align, which might mean the draft provision leaves. (Not to mention the fact that Obama will probably veto the bill because it says he can’t do things like close Guantanamo Bay. Because our politicians are terrible, terrible people.) But I would like this provision to make it into law, if only because it will make Ted Cruz really, really angry and that is basically the best thing that can happen in my life right now.
I’m an unlikely individual to be a cheerleader for military service, but I see this as a step forward for women. The fewer artificial barriers we have between what is “men’s” work and what is “women’s” work, the sooner we’ll achieve actual gender equality. A draft that only affects 50% of the population is one of those barriers, and I’m happy to see it come down.
But really, for serious, can we not have the draft at all? Because it is a super bad idea.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not trying to explain that yes, she does believe in gender equality even in the ways that don’t benefit her gender, she studies gender in popular culture.
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