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.