To quote a well-known cliche, with great power comes great responsibility. As we have made strides toward greater gender equality, more attention has been devoted to giving women more opportunities and responsibilities equal to men. However, this is not the case across every industry.
In 2013, the United States finally lifted its ban on women taking combat positions in our military. This long-overdue repeal gave women equal power to fight for our country, but it didn’t go the whole way in assuring equality on the battlefield. Women have yet to be bestowed with the same (legal) responsibility that men have for going to war in times of necessary defense of our country, and they will never truly be equals in the military until they are entrusted with this responsibility. Women should be included in Selective Service registration.
While on the face of it, exclusion of women from registering in the Selective Service would seem to have little to no impact on our society — the importance of the distinction between men and women lies in its subconscious messages. Yes, women are now allowed to participate equally in the military, but by excluding them from any future draft we might have, it sends the message that they aren’t equally capable of defending our country in a time of need. During the time of its first use in America, the draft made sense: it only drew men because women were still primarily homemakers at that point. Legally and culturally, they were not considered equal to men. Now, however, this method of conscription is arcane as it reinforces the idea of these traditional gender roles. Today’s women are just as active in and important to our economy and culture as men are, so this seems like a no-brainer. Again, this issue might not seem noteworthy on the surface, but the importance of taking this next step is apparent when one considers the opposition to this movement.
For example, when Congress lifted the ban on women in combat in 2013, many people expressed concern that the inclusion of women would somehow degrade the quality of our military forces. Senator John McCain urged special forces units to ensure that their “rigorous physical standards” are maintained. Never mind that women make up 15 percent of our military, or that women have fought for our country as early as the Civil War. While there are certainly physical differences between men and women, the argument that this disparity is enough to warrant the exclusion of women is ludicrous and the perfect example of the mindset we need to distance ourselves from as a country.
It was long overdue when our country granted women the power to fight in combat positions, and the amount of opposition this decision faced clearly demonstrates the amount of gender bias still present concerning our military. Throughout history, women have proven themselves equally capable in our economy, culture and on the front lines. We have given women the option to contribute to the defense of our country, but they deserve the responsibility for it, too.
Collegian Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @seanskenn.