The fight for gender equality has made its way to the forefront of the political battleground, where members of Congress are debating whether or not to require women to register for the draft.
As it currently stands, only men between the ages of 18-26 are required to register. But that’s not really fair, considering that each American citizen is responsible for upholding and defending our nation’s values. In an equitable society, both men and women shoulder this burden equally.
Richard H. Kohn, a military history professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, agrees. In an interview with The New York Times, Kohn said that men and women should be equally obliged to serve if the need arise.
“If you are going to levy that on men, you better levy it on women,” Kohn said. “Every occupation in the military is open to women, so they should have equal obligation to serve.”
Kohn further argued that making both sexes serve in an equal capacity will inspire military commanders to view men and women as the same. Attorney and women’s rights activist Kelly Antoine feels similarly.
“Obviously, not everyone is well suited for a military career, but that statement is no more true of women than it is of men,” Antoine wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed. “And if young men can be called upon to fill a temporary need, even if it doesn’t quite suit their ideologies or sensibilities, there is no justifiable reason that the same sacrifice shouldn’t be asked of women.”
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding this issue is that if a woman is drafted, she will automatically be deployed to the frontlines of combat. While this is certainly a possibility, there’s also a possibility that she may be assigned an equally valuable role in a non-infantry position. Examples of non-infantry military positions include doctors, lawyers, nurses, dentists, clerks, linguists, and cyber warfare experts.
But of course, not requiring women to register for the draft was never about their capabilities in the first place. Like all forms of oppression, it’s about power and control.