Monday, September 15, 2008

Uncle Sam Wants Who?

On The Flipside Guest Blogger: Jenn from Juggling Life

Jenn wrote this post in April and has so graciously agreed to pull it out of her archives and repost it here On The Flipside. Thanks, Jenn - it's a great topic!

Uncle Sam Wants Who?

Big Red will be turning 18 in a couple of weeks, so he received this in the mail:

Okay, his card isn't quite that large, but you get the picture.

Selective Service Registration


Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male aliens living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service. It's important to know that even though he is registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military. In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.

Guess what Grown-up Girl did not get for her 18th birthday? You guessed it--no mandatory Selective Service Registration for her.

Without going into what I think about SSR as a matter of policy, or the odds that we'll ever have a draft again, or my views on war in general, I have to note that only males are required to register. And that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me.

I am a feminist. I happen to be a feminist who has spent my adult life fulfilling a very traditional role, that of stay-at-home-mom and homemaker, but I am a feminist. And as such, I believe that women are capable of doing any job a man can do and deserve every opportunity men have.

If a woman deserves the same rights and opportunities as a man, does it not follow that she should have the same responsibilities? I believe it does. I can't think of a single reason that my son should be expected and possibly ordered to serve his country, but my daughter should not.

I have discussed this with mothers "in real life." What I find is that mothers of only girls are appalled at the idea. Mothers of only boys have never really considered the idea. And mothers who have both boys and girls may be surprised by the idea, but they concede that it does make sense that equal rights should also entail equal responsibilities.

Personally, the idea of any of my children going to war terrifies me. It would be worse if they went because of a draft rather than having entered the military voluntarily. I just can't imagine thinking that it would be acceptable that only our sons bear this burden.

After all, we've come a long way, baby--and sometimes, along with the upside, there's a downside.

Originally posted at Juggling Life 12:46 AM 4/24/08

Please leave your honest opinion whether you agree with Jenn or are On The Flipside on this subject. And, make sure you follow the comment rules and be nice to Jenn, to me and to other commenters. And, please go over to the sidebar and participate in the poll on this topic.


dani said...

i'm an old-fashioned mother with a very naive and girly daughter, and i absolutely vote, "no":)

Brenda said...

I agree, along with rights comes responsibilities.

Christopher's mom said...

I am proud to say that my 19 year old son is serving so that other's will not be drafted.

It would be hard for me to say that girls should be required to send in a card also, since my son is a Cav Scout and they do not allow females, however there are many females that are serving and never thought twice about signing their contract and none of these were required to.

Courtney said...

I say no, but then again I only have girls, so maybe that's why.

laurwilk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laurwilk said...

Uh oh, I'm on the Flipside.

I grew up in a military family; both my mom and dad were in the Army. I have a brother at West Point. And I am a feminist.

However, I do not think that being equal means being identical and I do not think that we should pretend that women can engage in combative battle the way that men can.

Women are excluded from SSR strictly because the original purpose of registration was to draft combat troops and women are excluded from combat.

I think we should always 'play' to our strengths and I think most would agree that the average man has much more physical strength and endurance than the average female.

Now, if we were drafting medical professionals...I'd have a whole different opinion.

Ellyn said...

I totally agree with your point. I believe women should have the same responsibilities as men. We have all the same rights. The original intent of the draft was for combat service but there is no reason why the draft couldn't be redesigned to accomodate women. Woman could be drafted for everything except combat service. I pray we never again have to use a draft. What a dark time for our country. I think our country fairs much better with a volunteer armed service.
Great topic. Thanks.

common mom said...

I think it's unfair to demand equality, and then try to pick and choose what exactly we want to be equal in. I have one boy and one girl . . . while I wish neither had to register, I think they should both have to register.

Christopher's mom said...

I am sorry to say that I think there is a small bit of misinformation here. If I am wrong then someone needs to tell all of our BRAVE Female Military Women that are currently serving oversea's that they are excluded from Combat.

SabrinaT said...

I AGREE! My husband is in the Navy. I say keep it equal baby. While we are at it, let's change the laws once they are in. If they get pregnant while deployed, they MUST make that time up! Or, allow fathers to AL LEAST be home for the birth of their baby?

Julie said...

I'm on the flipside here... But then, I am pretty old fashion.... While there are exceptions to both rules, in general men are stronger and have more endurance... The thought of joining the military myself scares the crud out of me!! (But I don't believe in the draft either, I don't think even men should be forced to serve if they don't want to...)

truth said...

I don't agree. My son registered like he should at 18. He is 24 now. I also have daughters and no, if there was ever a draft I don't believe girls should be included. Sorry, maybe I'm an exception, but I have 4 daughters and 1 son and there most certainly is a difference equal rights or not.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Jenn, I'm military, my husband's military; we respectfully disagree. It is one thing to have equal opportunity to serve in the armed forces; it is another to force a woman (especially during the years she is most likely to have young children to care for) to serve. There would be something ugly about a country that put warfare above childrearing on a woman's to-do list.

Other countries do require service from women (I'm thinking Israel here). But the women have much shorter obligations.

As far as the rights v responsibilities argument, there are different types of responsibilities to have. Nothing pains me more than to see both a mother and a father deployed at the same time. Obviously they chose to both be in the military and therefore must bear the consequences; but what happens then to their responsibility to be there for their own children? And to force this situation on people (via a co-ed draft) seems to me unconscionable.

Women have served well and honorably in our armed forces for decades. But they should not be forced to do so. We have other, less tangible, responsibilities here at home; and it is the job of our military to protect us while we carry those out.

E said...

This one issue managed to defeat the equal rights amendment.
I agree. And I want a draft that includes various forms of or defense. Then the kids can choose where to give back. They could do their two years in exchange for college grants and build roads and bridges or serve in the military.
Women serve valiantly in combat in Israel who have one of the most highly skilled trained military in the world. Yes we have genetic differences, strength is one, but strength does not preclude an ability to serve in appropriate combat...I am thinking here of sharpshooters and pilots etc etc

laurwilk said...

A quick response to Christopher's Mom. It is true that women are in combat as there is no law barring them from actually engaging in combat. However, there are laws against allowing women on combat missions.

With the exclusion of the Air Force, women are allowed to only participate in about 50% of military positions and less than that as a Marine.

Also, the last time that the SSR was challenged was in 1981 (Rostker v. Goldberg). Laws permitting women to engage in combat were not changed until 1993 or 1994 (it was Clinton and I think a result of Desert Storm).

I wasn't meaning to state that women DO NOT participate in combat. Because they do and I am inspired by the bravery and heart that must require (for men and women). However, the draft was intended for combat -- meaning that the men would be put into combat missions which is still today not allowed for women (with a few exceptions).

TheCynicalOptimist said...

I agree the sexes are equal and both should "have" to- although I don't want my daughter to have to. But if I have a son, I don't want him to have to either, so its not aobut her being a girl. Some argue against women in battle but "military service" goes way beyond a battle field. There are tons of administrative jobs and otherwise that would combat that argument. Plus, frankly, women can battle I think! :)

Helen E.M. Wright said...

Totally agree! Although I am incredibly surprised that this country still does this, I am more surprised that they don't call forth women!

We all know whatever boys can do, girls can do better!!

-is that being sexist?!?

Jacey said...

We don't have anything like that here....
I'm not sure I agree with it though.
I think military service should be voluntary, unless there's a great need for it. The only need the US has for these people that they're forcing to sign up at 18, is because they're sending off all the people who volunteered, and getting them killed in a war that isn't their battle to fight.
(sorry, rant over.)

I think that if it's going to be compulsary, it should be male and female. Let's get past this whole notion of boys being stronger, better and more capable than girls. However, I think the service period should be shorter - nto just for the females, but for all. The US has a LOT of people, yes? So you're not going to run out of say.. 18 to 22 year olds, are you? That's 4 years.

But I don't really agree with it at all. I think it should be voluntary. If you want to serve, serve. If you don't, you shouldn't have to. It's like forcing people to become lawyers or garbage men, or any other kind of profession. Because t hat's what being in the military is. It's a career. It might be more as well, but it's stilla career.

Rosemary Bogdan said...

I don't agree that women are capable of doing anything that men can do. Or the converse either. When physical strength is a very important part of the job I think we must acknowledge that men are generally better equipped. I personally don't believe that women should serve in combat positions. In other positions in the military? Sure.

Anonymous said...

This is a tough one. My husband is active-duty military, and we have 4 sons, ages 9-17. Registration looms on our horizon! I can't imagine being drafted myself; I am "old-fashioned" and always dreamed of being a SAHM; I cannot fathom sending a hypothetical daughter off to register for the draft. I am proud of my soldier husband --and grateful that he has only been deployed once (so far), but I get an ache in my heart when I think of my sons doing the same. I don't like the idea of the draft for ANYONE.