How Come Men Have to Register
for The Military Draft and Women Don't?
A look at gender roles, citizenship, and the distorted
equality paradigm propagated by ideological feminism.
As reported by
from a small island in the
I'm sorry I can't be with you at the 1998 American Men's Studies Association conference to lead a discussion about what I consider to be the most egregious omission of modern feminism -- registering women for the military draft. Debates about "glass ceilings" and "sexual harassment" are trivial in comparison with getting shot at in foreign lands defending the interests of U.S. corporations. If feminists were truly interested in Equality, rather than gaining ever more special privileges for women, they would be proactively lobbying the Congress and the courts to register women for Selective Service.
Is it not the very meaning of citizenship that the citizen of a state is obligated to protect and defend that form of government which affords her the privileges and protections of citizenship? How come, when women got the right to vote, they were not instantly saddled with the responsibility to fight in war to defend their right to vote? What mysterious, archaic gender paradigms populate our psyches, blinding us to the actual spectrum of issues which constitute "equality" and "citizenship"? Who has managed to control the gender equality debate to the extent that Selective Service registration has remained absent from it for 70 years? Why do they do it? What deeper paradigms are they skirting, glossing over, concealing? And...given that men are expected to fight in war and women are not, is it not possible to conclude that men are NOT the oppressors of women, but that men are, in fact, the PROTECTORS of women?
Right now I am somewhat willingly stranded on a small island in the South Pacific. There are no roads, no cars, no electricity, no phones. My hosts are in great part a hunter/gatherer culture. I spend my days with the men, fishing and collecting fruits: papaya, breadfruit, coconuts, bananas. The women stick close to home, sweeping the packed earth around their coconut leaf huts, shooing pigs out of the garden, collecting shellfish off the reef at low tide. Both men and women cook and tend the infants, depending upon who is not engaged in some other activity at the time. As other researchers have pointed out, there is less division of labor in both hunter/gatherer and "information age" societies than in the agricultural and industrial societies of recent epochs.
But the dangerous work is still done by the men. Women don't climb coconut trees (fat as I am, neither do I). Women don't ride small boats out into huge waves to catch fish. Women are not drafted in time of war. As in Europe and America, most families here are de facto matriarchies, governed by the iron will of the eldest surviving family member -- almost always a female. Men appear to have a great deal of autonomy while they're alive, but they simply do not last as long as women. While young women complain about social restrictions and lack of freedom, old women govern the wealth of the family -- in Europe, America, and the South Pacific. Thus, the very things that feminists complain about, are the things that ensure women's eventual dominion over the accumulated resources of the family. The men lead tough, dangerous lives, die sooner, and the family wealth devolves into the hands of the elder women.
"Equality" is not age specific. It's meaningless to ask whether men and women are treated equally at the age of 18, 35, 72. Equality embraces a lifetime of events. And it's clear -- in Europe, America, and the South Pacific -- that over a lifetime women possess more security and authority than men. Why? Because men willingly sacrifice their well being for women. Because men are the protectors and defenders of women. Because men die for women.
Why do they do it?
Because women are widely regarded to be more valuable than men. Women make babies. A deep biological imperative within men supports the notion that women and babies must be protected and defended. That's why there are male feminists. Male feminists are men expressing their innate urge to protect and defend women. Challenging and critiquing women runs against our character. We hate fighting with women.
So what about military service? Is draft registration a moot point since we're not at war? A young man I know of was recently booted out of an Ivy League school -- lost his admission and scholarship -- when it was discovered he had neglected to register for the draft. The school received federal funds, one requirement of which is that all males over the age of 18 must be registered for the Selective Service. The school could lose it's federal money if it doesn't comply, so the young man gets the "heave ho" -- instantly -- no appeal. Female co-eds need not worry about this sort of career disruption.
Bills have been sponsored in the U.S. Congress to register women for Selective Service. They did not pass. They got no feminist support. Moreover, since it is the policy of the Pentagon that women cannot be forced to perform combat duties, the issue of drafting them was deemed irrelevant. Tell that to the guys getting shot at.
I talked to some marines from Somalia. Their beef about women soldiers is that, while the guys are sent into the desert or on combat missions, the female marines guard the embassies and toady about with the diplomats and generals -- ensuring their own promotions.
It is a well-known fact that, during the build-up to the Iraq War, droves of female soldiers became suddenly ill or, more remarkably, temporarily pregnant -- many with pregnancies which seemed, miraculously, to vanish when the hostilities ended. Is military service just another career track for women? Another way to get a paycheck and a pension without having to risk too much?
And...while the engines of feminist propaganda inflamed the nation over the issue of admitting young women to military academies, the real issue -- registering ALL women for Selective Service in combat roles -- was cleanly swept under the rug.
Why do feminists, male and female, dodge this issue?
Because it is the death knell to their movement.
On every radio show I've ever done with ideological feminists -- where I was able to raise the Selective Service issue -- I was met with a prolonged pause, then a gush of unanimous and unequivocal agreement that women should be compelled to register, then the topic was swiftly changed to something else -- a peculiarly feminine technique for avoiding unpleasantness. They'll talk about it. But they won't do anything about it. Why won't feminists proactively advocate this issue?
Because they know their constituents. They know that the feminist movement would endure an 80% desertion rate led by those gender opportunists who go by the name of Equity Feminists if the ideologues began openly advocating draft registration. Far and away most women do NOT want to register for the draft. They do not want equality -- not if it means they REALLY have to fight for it.
And how about the people who don't believe in war?
Welcome to a bigger problem.
I didn't believe in the Vietnam War. I was drafted anyway. The women with whom I had pursued undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago sailed blithely off to graduate school, while I went underground dodging the F.B.I. It was no fun. And it certainly wasn't Equality.
200 years ago a flurry of democratic revolutions established that a person willing to fight and risk his life could be liberated from monarchy and gain the right to vote for his governors. 140 years later women obtained the right to vote, without being obligated to fight for, or risk anything. Is this not simply another instance of men affording special protections for women? It was men, after all -- the guys who fight and die -- who granted women the right to vote.
Have we not lost sight of what citizenship in a democracy is all about? How can our media focus on the "glass ceiling" and ignore this obvious inequity? I have no problem with women becoming senators, CEOs, or Supreme Court Justices. I DO have a problem with the idea that these women never, ever, have to fight to defend the form of government which permits them to attain these high positions.
Aristocrats are a privileged species of human being. Aristocrats are not expected to perform hard, dangerous, physical labor -- no bricklaying or asphalt pouring or oil well drilling for these folks. Aristocrats are not expected to serve as common soldiers in time of war -- for them are reserved positions of command and supply, far removed from the front lines. Are we not creating an aristocracy of women? Are we not breeding a race of privileged creatures, with guaranteed rights for advancement into positions of authority, who are not expected to perform nasty physical labor nor fight in time of war? It seems to me democracy is circling back on itself, like a snake swallowing its own tail, recreating a type of aristocrat, a privileged individual, one who wears a slightly more attractive gown, yet one who is, as in the olden days, endowed with favored status from her time of birth. Is it possible we are recreating an aristocracy of women?
All the feminist issues of the last 30 years rolled up into one pale in comparison to the image of the male draftee, getting shot at, by people he doesn't know, in a war he doesn't believe in. This is TRUE powerlessness, not TV hype.
Equality is not just about money and political power. It is also about human relationships. Whether it's a father who isn't allowed to see his children, a coal miner or bricklayer working a job he hates to feed his wife and kids, or a draftee getting shot at, the stark oppression of men in the entire arena of human relationships is perhaps the major untold academic saga of this century. We need much more serious academic inquiry into why men get stuck with the hard dangerous jobs, and why men get stuck fighting wars. Draft women. Let them get shot at -- or run from the F.B.I. That's real equality. That's civic responsibility. If women cannot accede to registering for Selective Service their very right to vote, much less their right to become senators, judges and CEOs, is called into question. Equality means equality of responsibility. Women can NEVER be equal without it.
But we -- bio-imprinted males that we are -- will continue protecting them and defending them while they rail at us for being their oppressors. Like cocks in a barnyard, no matter what injustices and outrages we female sympathizers foist on the rest of the male species, we will carry on blithely protecting and defending women and advocating their favorite issues. That's how we were made. Men compete with each other for the privilege of protecting women. And the guy who does the best job of that wins the emotional reward that women offer -- and I'm not just talking about getting laid.
But the joke's on us. Women live longer. Women control 65% of America's wealth (Forbes magazine). Women don't need our protection. Women don't have to fight in war.
Oops...please excuse me. I have to go. It's windy and raining, dark clouds lashing across the lagoon, but the guys want to go fishing and I should go too. Don't ask me why. I'll never understand. It's just something guys do -- enduring pain and discomfort to gain sustenance for the women and kids. That's not likely to change. Not in Europe, America or the South Pacific. Men take natural pleasure in protecting and providing for women. It's part of our bio-make-up.
And it doesn't run in the opposite direction. Few women are dedicated to protecting and providing for men. Few women will lay bricks or mine coal for a husband who stays home cooking pancakes. Equality between the sexes? It's about as germane an issue as financial security for sea urchins. If women want equality tell them to register for the draft. If not, tell them to stop yapping about it.
It's cold and wet out here. There are wild, wind-whipped waves and razor-backed reefs and mean-toothed fish to haul into the boat. It's not ideology. It's not something you discuss in climate controlled rooms. It's something you do.