There are many considerations when it comes to having women in the military. No one argues about whether women should be in the military, but rather the argument is to what extent, and what types of capacities women should be required to perform in their military service. In the year 2016, there were many possible changes that were explored when it came to equal treatment of women in the military. This equal treatment included the issue of whether or not women should be drafted. There was a bill that was passed by the senate that received approval from many people entailing that women should be drafted. However, later, in 2016, Congress shot the bill down. This essay will explore the various reasons that the Senate supported the bill, and the reasons why Congress denied it.
The issue of women in the military, and equal treatment for genders, has been building alongside the corresponding social movement towards equality of the genders. According to Julia Pulley, a reporter for CNN, there are many things that happened in 2016 towards women being treated equally in the military. In January of 2016, Secretary Ash Carter opened all military positions to women, whereas prior to that, only some positions were available (Pulley, 2016). Then, in February, the House of Representatives presented a law to the Senate that intended to extend the selective service registration requirements to include women between the ages of 18 and 26—in June the legislation was approved by the Senate (Pulley, 2016). The momentum towards having equal treatment has been unprecedented. The act that the House suggested was entitled, “Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016,” and the idea was that all women would register for the draft.
This draft was not, in itself, equal as far as the types of duties that women would be required to do as soldiers in the Army; women were relegated to only having clerical type duties. In order to bridge this gap, some have suggested that women could have a skills-based test that would allow them to prove their physical skills if they desired a physically demanding position. However, if this type of testing were introduced, there would also be a double standard that was introduced along with it. In order to escape this double standard, men would have to be permitted to take a skills-based test, as well. This would lead to the possibility that many would be able to evade certain high risk assignments: “…such testing would allow capable people to intentionally avoid difficult, high mortality assignments” (Pulley, 2016) Furthermore, Pulley argues that “reserving all the support jobs for women constitutes unequal treatment, and drafted men aren’t likely to accept women occupying an unfair share of low-risk jobs” (Pulley, 2016). This makes sense: Men are not going to want women to be treated as equals, but in doing so, have women displace all the lower risk jobs that would otherwise have been open to men. Additionally, for men who are capable of physically demanding high risk jobs, it is likely that they could feign some sort of physical inferiority in order to escape being assigned undesirable duties.
Congress called for a reassessment of whether having a draft is economically feasible, rather than approving the “Draft America’s Daughters…” (Hunter, 2016). However, others argue that it is a necessary international precaution. As long as other countries understand that we have a national draft in the event of an emergency, then we are much less likely to be viewed as vulnerable (Pulley, 2016). One thing, although the momentum was headed towards equal treatment of women, there were issues that seemed to hang up everyone about the draft: women are physically different from men. The nuances of the differences, from reproduction to actual physical abilities are never ending, Therefore, Congress responded by simply annihilating the draft, or at the very least reviewing whether the draft was necessary. Apparently, there has not been one person who has unwillingly served in the US army since the early 70’s (Shane, 2016).
The physical differences between men and women pose a serious issue for the types of service that are required of a soldier. Moreover, the burden of being the weaker sex is not borne only by the individual women herself. Instead, both the Army and the Marine Corps have reported some interesting statistics about women in their service. Women are reportedly two to six times as likely as men to be injured in training (Pulley, 2016). And, internationally, the study of women in the military has revealed that women have 30% less muscle mass than men, smaller hearts than men, and slighter skeletal structures (Pulley, 2016). This does not make women the ideal physical soldier.
In conclusion, although there is a social momentum that has gathered towards completely equal treatment of women and men, it is possible that the gender gap exists in the military due to physically factual circumstances. However, regardless of whether women should be drafted or not is the issue of the draft itself: Perhaps, in order to solve the complex question of equal treatment in the military, there needs to be changes in the methods of the military that preclude equal treatment. The Senate approved the “Draft America’s Daughters…” because they had the ideal of equality in mind. Congress shot it down because they had the notion of improving the structure of the military.
- Hunter, M. (2016). Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016. 114th Congress. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4478/text
- Pulley, J. (2016). The truth about the military gender integration debate. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/28/opinions/military-gender-integration-debate-pulley/
- Shane, Leo. (2016). Congress drops plans to make women register for the draft. Military Times. Retrieved from http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/ndaa-women-draft-dropped