Currently, all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants aged 18 to 25 are required to register for the draft, and now, women turning 18 on or after January 1st, 2018 will be required to register as well. This will position the U.S. beside nine other countries that already require both men and women to register for enlistment in the armed forces.
We women cannot only argue for equality when it benefits us. We must also accept that equality may come with downsides.
As a 20-year-old woman, this bill and its implications particularly resonate with me. I wholeheartedly support this bill. I think it’s a step toward both gender equality in the military and gender equality in America.
The issue of women and the draft is largely a symbolic one. The United States has not had a draft since 1972, for the Vietnam War, and there is little evidence suggesting that a draft is in our near future. Nevertheless, this bill marks a significant stride toward gender equality.
One of the most vocal opponents of the bill was none other than Ted Cruz, who pronounced, “I could not in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat.”
Cruz’s statement reinforces the female stereotype of a damsel in distress. No, Ted Cruz, we do not need men to go to war to protect us helpless women at home. We do not need your protecting; we’re perfectly capable of protecting our country and ourselves.
Other opponents suggest that it’s a privilege that women have been kept out of the draft until now, and that we should try and prolong that privilege. No: Accepting this line of thinking undermines the ultimate goal of complete equality in law and society.
I am the first to admit that I do not want to be drafted. But what I do want is equal opportunity in the fields like politics, academia, business, finance, entertainment and more. And I want to be paid the same amount a man would be paid for doing the same job. We women cannot only argue for equality when it benefits us. We must also accept that equality may come with downsides. So, I fully embrace women being included in the draft.
Now we’re that much closer to equal pay and equal opportunity.
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