Women in the Draft? Let’s Fight for Gender Equality First

In January 2013 the Pentagon officially reversed its ban on women in combat roles. This quickly prompted a discussion on including females in the draft and reversing the Supreme Court decision Rostker v. Goldberg.

I think I am going to have to stick with the original decision held – women should not be drafted into combat roles. (Now drafting women into noncombat roles is a separate discussion entirely, but I’m going to leave that for another day). I would like to highlight several, fairly serious qualms with the possibility of drafting women.

First and foremost, this would be a dangerous situation, both for the women being drafted and for society at large.

It is a well-known, biologically proven, almost entirely undisputable fact that the average male is physically stronger than the average female. I’m not being sexist. I’m not saying women are weak. I’m just stating a fact. A particular woman could be stronger than a particular man, but a draft would not screen carefully for these particulars. It would be indiscriminate and thus, create a battlefield with sizeable gaps in strength. This is far from ideal, much less beneficial. There is no guarantee that other nations would also require females to fight. Wars would be fought on asymmetric playing grounds.

Treatment of prisoners is another aspect meriting careful consideration. While the Geneva Conventions do contain rules governing this matter, said rules are not always followed. Since women are more likely to be raped, female combatants would face the added threat of sadistic sexual abuse if captured. This is not to deny the fact that men could also find themselves in similar situations, but from a statistical standpoint it is simply more likely to happen to a woman. Ignoring this reality won’t make it any less true.

If the draft were to be reinstated, this time calling women to fight as well, females age 18-25 would be put into combat roles. While I entirely affirm the notion that women are not on this earth for the sole purpose of having babies, reproduction is necessary for society to continue to exist. Deliberately forcing our most fertile females into front-line positions might lead to a decline in birth rate. And while this planet is overpopulated as it is, I think this is an important factor to consider. I support the right women have, by virtue of being citizens and permanent residents of this nation, to volunteer themselves to occupy combat positions. By nature of the fact that this would occur on a volunteer basis, the process is self-selecting and thus would automatically screen for the particulars I mentioned earlier.

Finally, we can approach this topic normatively in order to figure out what is fair and just in such a situation. Let’s start with some statistics. A woman makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. A woman is 6 times more likely to be raped and 20 times more likely to suffer from an eating disorder. Over 60% of those living in poverty are women. The list goes on. Some call this equality. I call it second-class citizenship. It is difficult to justify forcing a woman to put her life on the line for a society which does not afford her the same benefits as it does a man, for a society which asks “what were you wearing” all too often, for a society which thinks that the right to vote is all it takes.


  • No wonder she was born in Saudi Arabia; women there aren’t even worth half as much as men there. And what the hell is “undisputable”? It’s “indisputable”, learn your English first before you make rubbish arguments against equality.

  • This is such crap. So because women aren’t treated equally, we shouldn’t have to treat them equally? And that’s NOT sexist? If we are going to have the draft we should have it for everyone. They do realize you can also be disqualified from the draft for not being fit for war? So if a man or woman is physically unfit to fight they will be pulled. They aren’t going to send pregnant women or an 80 pound girl who can’t run for crap into combat.

  • Wow, pretty sad at what gets posted by and Ivy school these days. Not well reasoned at all. Sounds like give me 100% equality and then I will think about taking equal responsibility. Beyond basic fairness (and who says all the small/frail women couldn’t be placed in non-combat roles, just as such men should), the best reason to draft women is exactly because it would give more pause to those old, white men sending us to war(s). We as a society value the lives of women higher than men in terms of exposure to extreme harm. Makes the stakes greater for war.

    Or consider this: Is it rational to expect a female commander in chief to be accepted when women do not serve in combat in numbers? You want the first woman president? Step up.

  • Equality is not a food buffet where you pick and choose which parts you want. If women are allowed to vote for pro war politicians its only fair they have to fight as a consequences of their choices like men have been historically forced to. This is what men have to think about when they vote for politics.

    You want equality? You get all of it.

  • “It would be indiscriminate…”
    Isn’t that the point, if you oppose discrimination?

    Now, granted, I oppose the draft for men OR women (the Geneva Convention itself specifically details conscription as one of only a couple legal forms of slavery)… But if we’re going to keep it for either gender, it needs to be both- or at least acknowledged as a sexist imbalance- a burden unique to that gender. Given there are no associated perks to balance this out- but avoiding the draft can result in jail time and fines- it is an important one to address.
    Sure, there may be other issues more important on the whole, or to a given person, but it’s not as of addressing one keeps us from addressing the others… That’s a false dichotomy that only serves to harm the people.

    As for women being more likely to be raped… Hell. Male POWs got raped plenty… To say nothing of the wide and ugly world of torture, mutilation, and deprivation. Any country that’s willing to throw Geneva out the window doesn’t care what gender you are… Torture is torture, and they’ll do whatever they can and want with you- no matter who you are… Or nothing at all, no matter who you are.
    Not only is this point debatable, it’s worthless to your thesis.

    $0.77 has been debunked so hard it’s not funny, even by feminists who think perpetuating it serves to harm the cause more than help it… When the White House offers a retraction like they did, you know the statistic is shady.
    As for the rest- the same studies that showed 1-in-5 women will suffer sexual assault delivered 1-in-6 men (hardly 6x more likely. The numbers you’re using are probably based off current law which doesn’t count ‘forced to envelop’ as rape, such that slippig a guy a roofie and a Viagra is completely legal, nor account for the stigma of reporting, which is way worse for men).
    I’ll grant you the rating disorders and poverty, but keep in mind men have a higher workplace mortality, murder rates and suicide rates, by factors of dozens and in some cases hundreds.

    I won’t for a moment suggest that men are privilege-free… Merely that neither are they disadvantage free… And the same can be said for women. I personally suspect we’re at a tipping point between the genders, where one or the other may be more disadvantaged in a given way, but on the whole are nearly on even footing…
    In other words, we’re at a point where true equality can only be achieved by addressing the concerns of BOTH… Honestly, fairly, and with both an open mind and open dialogue.

    Even if this doesn’t get mod approval, I would love to hear your specific response- my email included above. I’m always open to such discussion, but consider myself primarily an egalitarian- neither women’s not men’s rights being sufficient alone to solve the problems we face- most of which are bigger than simple gender. Thank you for your time in reading this, and I hope it finds you well. 🙂

  • The bottom line here appears to be “women should just be allowed to do what they want” rather than a principled or consistent position. After all, if a society were really concerned that women prisoners of war would be mistreated, then this would apply just as much to women who volunteered as to those who were drafted; similarly the loss of reproductive capacity applies both to volunteers and draftees (perhaps in smaller numbers); again, the asymmetry between armies made up of tightly knit bands of aggressive, larger males and those made up of mixed sex units would still exist to some extent even if female combatants were self-selecting. In other words, the arguments against female draftees also apply to female volunteers.

    As for the last argument (that more women than men are poor etc.), if that were a just criterion of who should be drafted, then poorer and less privileged men ought to be drafted after and not before all those wealthier women working in relatively comfortable white collar jobs.

  • This is pretty badly thought out. All of the arguments you put forward against drafting women are the same discredited arguments that were trotted out against the idea of women serving in the first place, and are pretty anti-woman, anti-equality, etc.

  • So, my sons should have to go out and die, but not your daughters. I don’t think so. In case you were unaware, the right of men in the USA to vote is directly tied to their registration for Selective Service. They don’t get the choice, neither should you.

    In the end, Philip’s answer is correct. End Selective Service.

    • John,

      You don’t have to worry about your sons getting pregnant from rape.

      My teenage daughters are 102 and 105 lbs, and it’s unlikely they are going to get much bigger since I am 44 and weigh 115 lbs.

      How much do your sons weigh? How tall are they?

      How is a 5’2 & 102 lb female like my daughter supposed to carry 50 lbs? How is is she going to fight a man that is twice her size? Most teenage boys at school dwarf my daughter. Even if she was a superior athlete (and she’s not) she would never stand a chance against a man in a fight.

      So you think it’s ok for young females to be forced to fight even though they are much smaller and physically weaker then their male counterparts? Even though it is likely they will get raped, and possibly pregnant?

  • Do your own research, stop touting invalid studies (the $0.77 wage gap myth). Your points about the likelihood of rape or sexual abuse are solid, as are many other points in this post — don’t throw it all away by parroting an incorrect statistic in effort to be sensationalist. If you spend any time doing research, you will find multiple legitimate sources (and no, I’m not talking about pro-MRA biased sites) that rebuke the $0.77 wage gap myth.

    Don’t sacrifice your message in effort to be sensationalist, and do your own research before you post something as fact. It’s true that the $0.77 wage gap myth is a widely held belief, but that does not mean it is correct. Studies that have corrected for bias have been published that illustrate that $0.77 is not accurate at all.

  • You speak of the disputed wage gap, rape, and eating disorders as reasons why women should not have to be drafted but fail to recognize that 97% of all work related deaths are men, 76% of all homicides victims are men, 80% of all suicide victims are men, and men get custody of their children only 16% of the time. So men have to worry about having their children taken from them and being killed by their job, someone else, or themselves yet that is all okay. They should also have to be drafted into war while women, whose biggest concerns are rape, eating disorders, and wages should be exempt. Oh, yeah, and 97% of all combat related deaths are men too. Yes, we should start worrying about gender equality and bring all those numbers equal. We can start by having women drafted in combat duty so it is not only men who are doing all of the suffering and dying. Let’s make it equal.

  • The writer thinks it is only “fair and just” that young males die in wars, because they are so “privileged.”

    Hmm. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow I doubt that a 19-year-old guy who lays dying on some foreign battlefield feels more “privileged” than his 19-year-old female counterpart who’s safe at home on American soil, maybe going to a concert or shopping for jeans in a suburban mall.

    I think the writer has the whole “privilege” thing backwards.

    • Pierce, good call. I saw guys in the army that just were too young, to emotional. Once at an APA meeting American Psychiatric Institute, a female speaker discussed how stupid men were to go to Viet Nam. I got up and said most were just boys whose dads and moms both were never prouder of them than when they were in uniform. Few understood why we take young me, brains not fully formed til age 25 they now tell us. My sister and fiance got the XX chromosome pass and when I was in drafted at age 20, voting age was 21 and the bulk of voters in America were women and many supported not only the war, but sending guys to war too young to vote. Take about second class citizens. Philip, getting rid of the draft would fill the military with the poor and the poor are already over represented in the names on the wall for those killed in Viet Nam.
      The rich know their kids won’t have to go to protect all their “stuff” so they would more likely support wars in which the poor must go.

  • Why not just remove selective services/ the draft entirely. That way the only people who go in (man or woman) are doing so of their own free will? You’ll get to have your cake by saying your doing it for equality and eat it to by not having to go yourself.

    • Not sure if you know this, but currently the draft isn’t in use. A draft will only be called upon in great times of need. So, if for instance, the United States goes to war with a major power like Russia or something, then they would instate a draft. If the United States is in desperate need of soldiers, and they can’t get enough people through volunteers, then a draft will occur. While unlikely now, at some point it is probable that this would happen. It would be nice to just have volunteer soldiers, but sadly, a day will come when that won’t be enough to protect our country. So, no. You can’t just get rid of the draft, but no one is being drafted currently.

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