Last year my daughter was invited to a princess party. Although not exactly a girly-girly, she was thrilled to walk into a room filled with tiaras and tutus, eye shadow and nail polish. The image of fluttering tutus and giggling princesses flashed through my head as I read the news that women may be included in a possible future draft. And when I thought about every princess at that party, including my own, being drafted into the military, I couldn’t help but pray that never happens.
With the recent decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat, the subject of gender equality is on everyone’s minds. And it seems that the topic of women being included in the draft, should it be reinstated, is a logical consequence of this breaking down of gender boundaries in the military.
As a mother of both a son and a daughter, I constantly grapple with the desire to put my children on equal footing along gender lines. I’m trying to raise my little girl to be a strong, independent woman. I want her to have the same career opportunities as her brother and to question anyone who tells her she doesn’t.
That being said, I’m not quite sure I would want my daughter to serve in the military at all, even voluntarily. But, for now, she has the option. It’s her choice whether or not that’s an avenue she’d like to pursue. However, I can’t reconcile the thought of her being forced into military service, especially if she’s not physically or mentally prepared to serve.
As much as the modern woman in me applauds the opening of new opportunities for women in the military, I have to admit the mom in me struggles with my own double standards. After all, when I think of my son being drafted, I think of him playing laser tag with his buddies, their faces covered in camouflage paint as they grab their laser guns and bravely run off into simulated war. I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of dread and the fierce need to go into parental protection mode at the thought of him being faced with the draft. Of course I would prefer that he have the right to exercise his own free will with regard to military service, but the idea of him being drafted isn’t nearly as frightening as imagining his sister right there alongside him.
This isn’t the first time the subject of women and the draft has been a consideration. But the movements to include women in Selective Service registration and make them eligibile for the draft never got off the ground primarily because of the ban against women in combat. Well, now that that pesky ban has been lifted, guess what? There may no longer be sufficient cause to continue exempting women from the draft. We can’t get rid of one double standard without tossing out the other, right?
Personally, I don’t think the draft is coming back anytime soon. Maybe it should so we can bridge that lingering gap in understanding between the civilian and military populations. And maybe women do need to be included in the draft’s revival.
But as long as I have that image of fluttering tutus and giggling princesses, I’m okay with that double standard remaining in place.
Do you think women should be included in the draft if it’s reinstated, especially now that women are permitted to serve in combat roles? Is it a double standard that men should be subject to the draft but not women?