Should women also be drafted for selective service?


Fact Box

  • The last US military draft happened in December of 1972 for the Vietnam War. 
  • Transgender women are legally required to register for the draft. 
  • About 180,000 young Americans enlist for active duty in the military each year. 
  • A and Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll revealed that 59% of Americans believe that the military draft should include women.

Victoria (Yes)

For men and women to have equal rights, no area must be overlooked. That is why true equality cannot be achieved if the selective service applies only to men. The Selective Service Act was passed in 1917 (over a hundred years ago) and only included men between the ages of 21 to 30. Still, women have been members of the military since the Revolutionary War (1775)--some even in combat roles. As of 2019, women make up roughly 16% of the active-duty army. It is clear that women are fully capable of being in the military; therefore, it is unfair to both sexes for men to have no choice in a draft, while women are not even considered for it.

Failing to include women in the selective service simply encourages the traditional patriarchal household while neglecting women’s ability to fight for their country. In the words of Philip Carter, Iraq War veteran, and current RAND Corporation Scholar, “Women have proven themselves since 9/11 as pilots, medics, military police, engineers, and as part of the special operations and intelligence communities.” He argues that if another draft were to occur, the growth of women in their roles as members of the military proves that America should begin to rely on them to fight alongside the men of this country. Women are much more than caregivers, wives, and mothers; they are strong, smart, and valuable members of today’s military – they should be treated as such.  

Sharon (No)

In February 2019, U.S. Southern District of Texas Federal Judge Gray Miller ruled that male-only draft registration is unconstitutional. However, it doesn’t automatically follow that women should be drafted to resolve that issue--because nobody should be drafted. Indeed, the words conscription and draft aren’t even in the Constitution.

Article 1, Section 8, is the part of the U.S. Constitution usually pointed at to justify the draft. Still, the constitutionality of conscription has never been as settled a matter as many think. At various points in our history, we’ve rightfully questioned this issue. 

What government has the right to demand the risk of your most basic human right--the right to life--particularly when that risk has long been an unequal one? Wealthy and politically connected people, those who typically start and profit from wars, protect themselves and their children from conscription because they know full well the risk of debilitating injury and death involved. They cannot demand to spill our blood, female or male, while protecting their own.

Even if the draft were justifiable, in practical terms, some differences make the average woman less suited to the battlefield than the average man. Women typically have 40% less upper body muscle mass than men. And Marine testing between 2012-2015 found that women had less shooting accuracy, were slower performing tasks like getting over obstacles, and experienced higher rates of injury than men did. If the draft is unavoidable, it makes more sense for it to apply only to men.

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