Women won’t be included in the draft after House Republicans back out of bipartisan plan
At this time last year, combat roles in the military first became open to interested, qualifying women, and earlier this year, the Senate proceeded to vote in favor of a bipartisan effort forcing women to be included in the draft, too. But this week, House Republicans cut the plan to include women in the draft. The House Armed Services Committee and a Republican Senate panel removed it from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2017 fiscal year.
Obviously, there’s good and bad to this. While some paraded the inclusion of women in the draft as a victory for gender equality, others noted that it was really just an expansion of a grievous human rights violation. After all, the draft, which began with the passage of the Selective Service Act almost a century ago, undermines consent and prioritizes the government’s interests and agenda above individuals’ consciences. While it hasn’t been used since 1973 and it doesn’t look like we’ll have to resort to it any time soon, its existence still sends the message that at any time, the government can reduce human beings to mere weapons to be deployed and force them to die for a cause they may object to. Equality isn’t inherently a positive if it means equally applying persecution to all.
So, sure, the good news is women will no longer be subjected to this violation of their human rights, but the bad news is that the draft as a whole remains intact, and men will still be subjected to it.
Opening the draft to women was never feminist in the same way that saying men should be able to hit men and women isn’t; feminism is fighting for everyone, regardless of their gender, to be treated with respect, not for everyone to be disrespected. But at any rate, removing women from the draft should hardly be celebrated as a feminist victory, either, as the motives were likely due to the same paternalistic notions of female weakness and fragility that barred women from signing up for combat roles until 2015.
A quote by the lovely Texas Senator Ted Cruz calling women “our daughters” whom “we” (men), cannot “in good conscience vote to draft … and [send] them off to war and forcing them into combat,” adequately highlights these notions. But, sure, let’s go on subjecting men to this. Meanwhile, our president-elect Donald Trump has been on the record tweeting that the solution to military rape is simply to bar women from military positions, you know, like how not hiring women for office jobs would solve the problem of office sexual harassment.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who favored including women in the draft, told The Huffington Post earlier this year that “there should not be one standard of what you have to be capable of to do certain jobs in the military, one for men and one for women.” Obviously, this is true enough, but instead of being used to force women into the draft, this argument should be used to remove men from it, as well.
Additionally, not only will women no longer be included in the draft, but neither will transgender men, who apparently aren’t “real” men in the eyes of the Republican lawmakers behind this switch-up. In many ways, war has always been rooted in notions of toxic masculinity since the dawn of time, and nothing proves this better than the draft.