The Problem With This New Step For Women

Photo: Dacotah Lane/ REX Features.
Equality is a fascinating concept. We tend to think of it as only applying to good things — equality of wages, equality of access, and equality in justice. But equality must apply, well, equally to all things, good and bad. And thus, the news today, that the heads of the Army and Marine Corps support requiring women to register for the draft.

I don’t mean to suggest the military is inherently a bad thing. Choosing to defend our principles of pluralism and equality by defending our nation is valorous and honorable. Yet compulsory military service flies in the face of the same freedom our military supposedly defends. And the Pentagon announced in December that all combat roles will be open to women, a move that will increase the number of paths open to those who choose to join the U.S. armed forces.

I no more think women or men should be forced into the draft than I think women or men should be effectively forced into military service because of a lack of meaningful alternatives — whether for a livable wage, college funding, or access to immigration. Freedom isn’t free, but the decision to risk your life defending it should be.

Personally, I want to see the U.S. military dramatically downsized from its current scale. Also, the scope of military service should be reduced alongside the scope of our military activities in other nations — which includes destroying them politically and culturally, and leaving them vulnerable to lawless terrorist takeover. And I’d like to see us stop being so trigger happy with deadly drones.

But if we’re going to have a military draft, then gosh darn it, women should get equal treatment and be required to sign up — just like men.

At this point, we don’t have compulsory military service in the U.S., nor do we have an active draft. What we have is the Selective Service, which under the current Military Selective Service Act, requires most men in the U.S. between ages 18 and 26 to register — including non-citizens such as refugees. This is the list from where an active military draft would be established, were one to be initiated. And yes, as we open all military service to women, we should equalize Selective Service mandates as well.

If we really believe in equality, it should govern not only the ranks of military service, but military philosophy — and our foreign policy advancing true equality and equity around the globe. We should not just use the rhetoric of equality to mask American opportunism and supremacy, as when we invaded Afghanistan and used the plight of women there as a fig leaf for moral justification.

Women shouldn’t just be free within the U.S. military. The military should be a true tool of freedom, equality, peace and opportunity — for women and men worldwide. Now that’s an agenda I’d march for.

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