The Senate Voted To Include Women In The Draft. Here’s Why This Is Garbage.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted to include women in the draft through the addition of a provision to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The provision passed 85-13, widely supported by both Democrats and Republicans. To Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, including women in the draft was “just a matter of time,” and shouldn’t even be a point of contention. I couldn’t agree more: treating men and women equally should never be controversial. On the other hand, forcing anyone — man or woman — to fight a war against their will should be.
The provision has since been praised by both prominent Republicans (like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham) and Democrats (like presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton), while, of course, failed presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz opposed the provision for all the wrong reasons. Cruz claimed he couldn’t “in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat,” unsurprisingly spewing out the paternalistic bullshit you’d expect of pretty much the most rabidly anti-choice politicians around.
But, there’s one thing I do agree with Cruz about — forcing someone into combat isn’t progress. However, I disagree that this should only apply to “our daughters,” aka grown women who, like men, should have the autonomy to determine for themselves whether or not something is worth fighting and dying for.
To call opening the draft to women progress is pretty much the same as calling it progress to encourage men to not only hit other men but also women, as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, discouraging violence toward anyone regardless of their gender.
The issue of women and the draft has long been a controversial one, since the Equal Rights Amendment was originally introduced in the early 1920s by suffragette Alice Paul. The amendment seemed slated for success until conservative icon (and Donald Trump supporter) Phyllis Schlafly led an emotional campaign pointing out that men and women being treated equally would result in female factory workers losing the gentler working conditions they enjoyed (although, wouldn’t the real solution be to treat men like human beings, too?), and also subject women to the draft. Support for the amendment immediately and dramatically declined.
While there’s no denying that in this case, opposition to the draft for both genders is rooted in the infantilization of women as well as sexist perceptions of women as helpless, inferior, and wholly reliant on men for protection, two wrongs don’t make a right. When you’re reducing human beings to mere weapons at the disposal of the government, wholly stripping them of their determinism and potentially forcing them to die for a cause they may or may not believe in, does it really matter whether they’re men or women?
The draft might only exist more or less as “backup” to supplement America’s all-volunteer force if needed, but is a war men and women don’t believe in really, truly worth fighting for? It might be “equality” to force everyone — not just one gender group — to serve, but it’s not the type of equality progressives should be dedicating themselves to. America’s values are rooted in a balance of equality and liberty: liberty is getting to choose whether or not to fight and die for a cause; equality is empowering everyone with this choice.
It’s worth noting that the draft hasn’t been used since 1973 and, for the moment, it doesn’t look like we’re anywhere near using it again. But, the sheer number of Americans who would be subjected to it and the glorification of this human rights violation as a victory for feminism and gender equality is frankly disturbing.
Instead of celebrating the expansion of this infringement on liberty, why not celebrate the Obama administration’s decision to lift the ban on women willingly serving in combat units? There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that women can be just as capable as men and are entitled to make their own choices (because obviously we are), but there’s something awfully wrong with forcing women — and men — to fight and die against their will.