Supreme Court justices could decide as early as this week whether or not they’ll take up a case challenging the men-only military draft.
According to CNN, the challenge to the draft is being leveled by the National Coalition for Men, a group that describes itself as raising “awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys.” “Military conscription” is listed among the organization’s core issues, which include “anti-male media bias,” “false accusations,” “the housework myth,” and the pay gap. So, yes, this is a men’s rights activist group, with everything that entails.
“No gender oppression is comparable in magnitude to the deaths of males in war, which includes forced conscription,” reads a page on the group’s site.
Nonetheless, the coalition is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, whose lawyers are arguing that the single-gender military draft amounts to sex discrimination. Ria Tabacco Mar, the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, acknowledged some of the seeming contradictions in this in a January blog. She wrote:
Representing an organization called the “National Coalition For Men” may seem like an unlikely way to advance women’s rights, and to be clear, the ACLU firmly opposes some of NCFM’s positions and activities. In this case, however, we share the common goal of ending an antiquated federal law that harms both men and women. And if the Supreme Court agrees, it could be one of the most significant constitutional advances in sex discrimination law in 25 years.
And recently David Cole, national legal director at the ACLU, reportedly posted a tweet saying that late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “would be proud of an effort to challenge one of the last formal sex distinctions under federal law.”
Maybe that’s true—I don’t know! Either way, the ACLU taking up the military draft as an issue concerning gender discrimination seems to me to be a pitfall of liberal definitions of gender equality, which rely on the idea that women must seek to do everything that men do.
While women’s exclusion from the draft may technically be a form of discrimination, it’s not a true feminist issue since it involves giving women the “equal right” to commit violence—in many cases against other women—and advance the United States’s imperialist agenda. That the Supreme Court challenge stemmed from a men’s rights group is the tell. No one of any gender should be required to do those things.