Equal Access to the Draft Is Equality Not Worth Having

The New York Times recently reported that the Senate has voted to require women to register for the draft, with few Senators in opposition. This bill comes as no surprise given the military has been increasingly opening its doors to women.

This culminated in last December when “…Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in December that the Pentagon would open all combat jobs to women…” which helped military officials advise Congress to make the draft apply for both women and men.

This bill has such broad and widespread support because of its intuitive appeal: If all combat jobs are open to men and this requires them to register for the draft then why should women be any different? Taking the institution of the military and its rules at its face, it seems implausible that women should be treated much differently.

Although the opposition was overall insignificant it should be noted that some of the more conservative members of the Senate, such as Ted Cruz, opposed the legislation on the basis that, “The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls in combat to my mind makes little sense at all…”

The final outcome of this bill is uncertain with the House of Representatives to deliberate on the bill and President Obama promising a veto, should it go through. But as Nora Bensahel, a military policy analyst, says, “It just seems that now that you have women allowed to serve in any position in the military, there is no logical basis to say women should not be drafted.”

I agree with Bensahel with regards to inevitability and if we accept the coercive power of the state, the military as a legitimate institution, the draft as a legitimate law and so on, then we can swiftly move to a “logical basis” that Bensahel mentions.

However, these are presumptions that unsurprisingly seem to be left out of the conversation so far.

The worst part of this bill isn’t the bill itself but that the minimal opposition it has relies on dangerously conservative ideas about women and their fragility. Notice the way that Cruz uses “little girls” instead of “grown women” when he talks about combat. He has to infantilize women in order to justify the government not being able to force them into the military.

But perhaps just as noxious is the “egalitarianism” liberals and “progressive” Republicans alike can appeal to so they can justify this law. They’re able to distance themselves from using the coercive arm of the state because it’s for “equality”. But equality under the law doesn’t mean anything when the law itself is unjust.

Jessica Pavoni, for the Foundation for Economic Education, writes, “The real issue is that a Selective Service registration (which leads to a draft) is immoral for both men and women, and that neither should be required to register at risk of becoming a felon, being fined, or being put in jail. The mere presence of a draft registration is an assertion that some people are qualified to put other people’s lives at risk. They aren’t.”

Laws that allow the government to throw our bodies in front of guns with threats of fines and imprisonment are ownership claims. They are ways for the government to show us that our bodies do not belong to us but are instead at their discretion and convenience.

And now it’s so graciously extending this discretion to women as well.

This is the exact opposite of any sort of feminist revolution.

Feminists aren’t winning out when men and women are both equally locked into illegitimate and murderous institutions. And any feminist who would consider this a victory may want to reconsider whether they’re interested in systemic change or not.

If feminism is to mean the liberation of our bodies and the abolition of patriarchy then it must be adamantly anti-war, anti-draft and against the state. For the state is one of the biggest institutions that has reinforced and legitimized patriarchy throughout history.

And now this tradition will continue through the expansion of the draft.

This article is reprinted with permission from Center for a Stateless Society.

5 thoughts on “Equal Access to the Draft Is Equality Not Worth Having”

  1. The powers at be have once again underestimated true feminism and true feminists. The only thing they’ve done is double the opposition to the draft by making it personal for everyone. The people united….

  2. As a man, I’d like to see the draft go away.

    And, as a man, I realize women never gave a flying f**k about this “murderous institution” until it was their butt on the line. As long as it was men getting killed, and women staying at home safe and sound, they had no problem with it.

    Ladies, don’t lecture me on equality till you are willing to step up to the ultimate equal responsibility: the draft. Till you do, you will always be second class citizens.

      1. Agreed. A total inclusive statement is as inaccurate as a total exclusive. Given the vast diversity of even people in groups which have a set agenda, it would be impossible for any issue to have full support. Nobody can see through your eyes but you. The same would apply to all cognitive and abstract neural functions (opinions, knowledge, perspective, expression…) I could just as easily pass a judgment that “Catholics hate Jews”or “Catholics love Jews”. The trick to making a statement like that is to omit the exclusive or inclusive conditional. If you put the conditional in the logic falls apart immediately. Test that: All Catholics love all Jews. No Catholics love any Jews. If we want to institute total equality in the draft, start with Wall Street. Get the sons of politicians (admittedly there would be some overlap between those groups) and take away any religious objectors from their exemption. That would take down, for instance, Romney and his quintuplex Demon Spawn worthless sons.”we aren’t going to fight in Daddy’s War because we’re doing a more important job, making Daddy the president”. College exemption, Having a blister up one’s butt. Bad back. (John Wayne, as opposed to Audie Murphy who was deemed Unfit For Service. Murphy persevered.) A really worthwhile concept is that every person supporting a declaration of war (ahem… we haven’t had any since the second week of December 1941) or to initialize any hostilities should be strapped to the first bombs dropped on the enemy du jour. Failing all those extreme measures, just quit drafting people, of all kinds. Quit killing people and stop trying to take other peoples land or other resources. Amazingly, that last actually has a large enough consensus to be practicable. The rest of them fall under my possibly erroneous snark “did you ever notice that fat chance, slim chance and no chance all mean exactly the same thing?”

    1. Nobody has a legitimate obligation to go to war. That’s one of the very few Absolutes I can imagine. Nor is it a responsibility. God didn’t make us to unmake each other.

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