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DominicX's avatar

Do feminists want women to be eligible for conscription?

Asked by DominicX (28318 points ) May 29th, 2010

There a billion+ misconceptions about feminism, but it is my understanding that the goal is to make situations as equal as possible between the sexes.

So my question is (without really knowing any people who consider themselves “feminists”) do feminists want women to be eligible for military conscription a.k.a. “the draft”? Seems like that’s the most “equal” option.

Obviously, I’m against the draft in general and would like to see the whole thing gone, so I’m not surprised that people aren’t exactly fighting for this “right”. However, assuming that it’s going to stick around, should women be conscripted along with men?

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32 Answers

janbb's avatar

The simple answer is yes. Either don’t have the draft at all (my preference for sure) or women should be required to register as well. And yes, I identify as as Feminist.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I would hope not, because personally, I feel women do not belong in combat roles.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Even though I’m male, I consider myself a feminist. Conscription, if it occurs, should be universal. In the modern armed forces only about 10% of personnel are in direct combat roles. Many women already serve voluntarily in combat or combat-support MOSs.
Somewhat off-topic, I support universal national service; not necessarily military.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Well, I am against the draft in general in fact, I find it quite outrageous that young men still have to essentially “sign up” to say it’s okay for them to be drafted in wartime but I think that yes, if the draft is to be re-instated that women should also be conscripted. That being said, I have no intention of fighting a war and would do my darndest to avoid a draft in the future.

@MRSHINYSHOES: Why do you feel that women do not belong in combat roles?

DominicX's avatar

In fact, I find it quite outrageous that young men still have to essentially “sign up” to say it’s okay for them to be drafted in wartime.

I find it outrageous as well. As an 18-year-old, I just had to do this somewhat recently. What made me think of this question was the fact that DADT is going to be repealed, which means that I can no longer say “I’m gay” to get out of the draft should it ever happen… :\

KatawaGrey's avatar

@DominicX: What I want to know is what would happen if a young man said, “No, I do not want to be conscripted in wartime. I will serve my country in a way that does not involve killing for it, thank you very much.”

I also wonder how relaxed guidelines become in the event of a draft. I suffered a nasty ankle injury 8 years ago that still causes a fair amount of trouble for me that I think might prevent me from joining now, at least in a combat sense. However, in the time of a draft, this might not matter so much…

marinelife's avatar

@janbb said it like I would have said it, word for word.

KatawaGrey's avatar

On a related note, I also think that women in the military should be required to cut their hair short because it makes no sense that someone in a combat situation should have long hair. Even if it is tied up, it can quite easily become untied when you’re running and falling and shooting.

laureth's avatar

There are two schools of thought on the matter of feminism in general. One school is exactly like the question you ask here – that women ought to have all the rights and responsibilities of men, including the possibility of conscription. The other school is more geared toward more protections for women in the hopes of equalling things out – and this is where things like child support and alimony come from.

The two schools of thought have been fighting it out for a long time. In some form, it’s been going on since Susan B. Anthony days at least. The reason that the ERA has never done very well is that the “protectionist” type of feminists are afraid of things like conscription, and rile people up with that idea (and the possibility of unisex bathrooms, oh noes!, even though the ERA has no such wording). Meanwhile, the “equality” feminists say that without equal responsibility, there can never be equal rights.

When, finally, one school or the other wins out, we might finally make some progress.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@laureth: An excellent answer as always. Personally, the whole idea of the “protection” school of thought bothers me because it perpetuates the idea that women need to be protected in all areas and at all times. I am firmly in the “equal responsibility for equal rights” school myself because it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone, male or female, should reap the benefits of living in a society and having all the rights thereof without having all of the same responsibilities and putting in all the same work.

With regards to the military conscription question, I think that women, although they are not as strong nor as large as men which can be potentially problematic in a combat situation, are as physically capable as men in a different way. Women have much greater stamina and can sustain injuries better than men, maybe not by much, but it is still an important factor. Also, if more women in the US were encouraged to join the ranks of the military, perhaps there wouldn’t be a need of a draft because there would be many, many more soldiers willing to fight.

Interestingly enough, there are special teams of female soldiers being sent to Afghanistan specifically to talk to the women in the villages because, in many cases, Afghan women are not allowed to talk to men they are not related to.

laureth's avatar

@KatawaGrey – that reminds me of a story I heard (don’t remember the source, sorry) about female soldiers in Iraq. An Iraqi man asked an American soldier, “Why do you let your women walk around with guns? And why do you let them walk around unattended by a man – it’s dangerous?” The punch line was something like, “When they have the gun, they don’t need the male escort to protect them from danger.”

I see feminism like that. If we have equal rights (such as equal pay for equal work), we might not necessarily need the protections (like alimony). Or, if we have the protections (like a male escort wherever we go), people will never see us as being able to handle equal rights and responsibilities (or guns). I’m afraid that getting the two groups to see eye-to-eye on this matter, though, is about as likely as the Left and the Right agreeing on politicval matters – they just don’t believe the same way.

janbb's avatar

I’m not sure that the protection argument makes much sense. Sure – have alimony, but for whoever is leaving the marriage and in need of more income. Have family leave for whichever parent needs it. And equal pay for equal work should be just that. Wome shouldn’t have to give up some of the advantages they have – such as opportunities for jobsharing and part time work – but men who desire them should have those opportunities as well.

Seek's avatar

@KatawaGrey Would it answer your question at all if I told you my brother was accepted into the army, and he failed the ASVAB outright, and has a history of attempted suicide? I think we’re all screwed if a draft is put into effect. They’ll be taking amputees by that point.

laureth's avatar

@janbb – The “protection” argument is an artifact from another time. In historical context, protection was needed when women left a marriage because their chances for employment were slim (and involved things like “taking in laundry”). It’s a “save the widows and orphans” thing that doesn’t make as much sense today.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: I figured it was something like that. If women were encouraged to join the military, both in times of peace and in times of war, I imagine people like your brother might not have such an easy time getting into the military because there would be many more healthier, able-bodied candidates available. Also, what’s “ASVAB”?

Seek's avatar

It’s the “Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Test”. His result was basically “Cannon fodder”.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Yeah, well, the army takes you if you breathe, and, well, that’s it.

janbb's avatar

@laureth That’s why I don’t see it as part of the discussion at this point. I understand it as a dynamic from the past, and perhaps a conservative argument against ERA and other equalities but not a current feminist position.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Of course they should be drafter if there is a draft. But there shouldn’t be a draft. 3rd wave feminist here.

laureth's avatar

@janbb – Whereas I see the “protection” school of thought as alive and well today. Although it’s a bit off topic – I’ll bring up the debate over pornography. There are feminists who enjoy it as entertainment and also as empowerment of women who choose to use and perform in it. Then there are those who say that it’s offensive to feminism, degrading to women, and should be censored or abolished to ensure greater female equality. I would call the second point of view the “protectionist” view.

Back to conscription, and sorry for the interruption. :)

janbb's avatar

aha, I get that.

lillycoyote's avatar

I certainly think women should be required to register for the draft and if we have a draft, young women should be conscripted, just like young men. Women already perform in combat roles, the two Gulf wars are proof of that, but because they are technically barred from combat they don’t have the same opportunities, or as many of them, to move up in the military. And maybe, if enough of daddies’ little girls start coming home in body bags or missing limbs and or maimed and disfigured by combat we might just find better ways to solve our conflicts.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m not for the draft in general, but like others have already said, if men are drafted there’s no reason women shouldn’t be, either. That said, like @KatawaGrey mentioned, I would also do whatever I could to get out of it.

YARNLADY's avatar

If there is a return to the draft in the U.S. I would expect that to be the case. In many other countries, it is not considered unusual at all. Women are expected to serve as well as men.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@YARNLADY: Aside from Israel which requires 2 years service for women right out of high school and 4 years for men what other countries require military service from women?

YARNLADY's avatar

@KatawaGrey Expected does not equal required. For more information see Women in the Military, by country and Women in the Military, General article

KatawaGrey's avatar

@YARNLADY: Apologies for the issues with semantics. I thought maybe you would be able to deduce what I meant. :)

rooeytoo's avatar

Equal = equal. So yes, conscription for all.
Separate but equal does not = equal.
To not allow capable women to fill any role in any circumstance = sexism.
I heard an old general respond to the question of should women be in combat with the memorable words, “When they can urinate standing up, yes.” Well I thought to myself, with a funnel, it is easy, then I thought if men crapped standing up, that might be a legitimate response.

laureth's avatar

“China, Eritrea, Israel, Libya, Malaysia, North Korea, Peru and Taiwan draft women into the army. In 2002, Sweden also considered female conscription on the grounds that excluding them goes against the ideology of equality.” (Link)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Some of the EU countries abandoned male conscription rather than draft women; as many interpret the human rights charter as requiring complete sexual equality.

Ron_C's avatar

I believe that everyone has a duty toward their country equal to the duty of the country towards the individual. Therefore I beleve that ^everyone^ has a duty to fulfill toward their country. It can be with the military or peace corps, or even an organization like the Red Cross. The time to fulfil that duty should be between the end of high school and the beginning of college or trade school.. Children need to grow up, especially college students and a couple years of military or community service is just what is needed. By the way there should be no physical barrier to avoid this service.

glacial's avatar

I think the draft would have to apply to both sexes, now that women commonly serve in the military – and for that reason, there will probably never be another draft.

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