Recent events have led to the resurgence of discussion surrounding the draft. Questions regarding the legality of the draft itself are being accompanied by intense discussion on women and whether or not they should be required to register for Selective Service as men are required to do. Recently, the Senate voted to approve a military policy bill that would require such registration. To me, there is no debate. The Senate was right; women should be required to register for the draft; in fact, every able-bodied American should be.
For many, many years, women have been pushing for gender equality, and yet, I have heard numerous women shoot down the idea of a draft requirement. Many even state that such a requirement is “unfair” to women. Why? Because we can’t handle it? Because we aren’t as capable as men are to serve our country? This completely goes against all of the work women have been putting in for all of these years, work which has been paying off, especially in the military, where women are now able to hold combat positions. Do I think that women can do everything that men can physically do? Not all of the time, no. But do I believe that women are capable of serving our country in impactful and beneficial ways? You’re damn right I do.
In reality, this issue goes beyond gender lines. Once we establish that women are completely capable of serving, even in combat roles, it’s not a matter of whether women are able to serve, it is whether they should be required to serve, and this is an issue that many people do not agree on even for the men of the country. For some, it doesn’t make sense that anyone should be required to join the military involuntarily, and as a citizen of this great country, one has every right to express that opinion. At the same time, I have the right to express why I believe that opinion is entirely and utterly wrong.
As I just mentioned, we, as Americans, have the right to voice our opinions. What we need to remember is that there is a reason why we have that right. We do not get to use that right without understanding where it comes from. While recognizing the controversial nature of the comparison I am about to make, I believe it is necessary to fully depict the way in which I think about this situation. I would like to compare the draft to the welfare system. Many people in this country today look unfavorably at the welfare system and see it as a system where people are drawing direct benefits from the work that others are doing. They see these people who are not asked to contribute anything to the system that is helping them live their lives. I am not saying that I share the same feelings towards the welfare system; I am simply acknowledging that those feelings exist on a large scale.
But, this is the way that I would look at our country if it didn’t have draft requirements, as a sort of “freedom welfare” if you will. It would be wrong to live our lives, benefiting from the freedoms that our country must fight to protect, without having some role in that fight. Our roles don’t have to be significant; I do not believe it is necessary that each one of us voluntarily enlists out of high school, but we do have to do something; we all have to contribute something to the preservation of our freedom. Only then can we claim its benefits.
I did not decide to enlist. I am not one of the heroic few who have. Those who choose this for their lives are Americans who deserve every ounce of respect that we can give them. This does not mean that all of the responsibility falls on them. As a woman, I would have no problem registering for Selective Service. If this were required of me and my future daughters, I would embrace the requirement with honor because I would know that I would be showing my commitment to protecting the freedoms we all get to live with as citizens of this great country.