We're not sure if the title of the Associated Press's report on whether women will be drafted now that they'll be fighting on the front lines — "Listen Up Ladies! Uncle Sam Might Want You Too" — is patronizing or sarcastic or what. (It'd make sense on a blog but seems a bit weird coming from the AP.) It skews towards patronizing, with phrases like "Tennnnnn-hut, ladies! The next time Uncle Sam comes calling, he's probably going to want you, too" and "but if you're worried a draft notice is going to soon be in your mailbox, take a deep breath. There is no looming national crisis that makes a military draft likely." Uh, thanks?
That's pretty much the gist right there: if there's a draft in our future, women will probably be drafted, but no one thinks that will happen anytime soon. But is there any good reason for why women shouldn't women be drafted? The military's women don't think so:
Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, a California Air National Guard pilot who served three tours in Afghanistan, said excluding women from a draft reinforces a stereotype that they are less capable than men and need to be protected. Not every woman can handle a close combat job, she said, and neither can every man.
But they can contribute in other ways if a crisis demands their service, said Hegar, who received a Purple Heart for wounds she suffered when her Medevac helicopter was shot at during a mission near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"You can't pick and choose when equality should apply to you," Hegar said. "Making generalized statements like, 'Women are capable of being in combat' or 'Women are incapable of being in combat,' are equally ignorant. People are either competent or they're not competent."
Word. The most interesting parts of this article are about draft controversy in general, not whether women should sign up:
For baby boomers in particular, talk of conscription stirs memories of the social and political upheaval of the late 1960s and early 1970s caused in large part by the unpopularity of the Vietnam war and the perceived unfairness of the draft. Research published in the late 1970s showed that men from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to fight in Vietnam than men from middle- and high-income families who could avoid being drafted by going to college or finding a slot in a stateside National Guard unit.
"The American people lost confidence in the draft as a means of raising an army when it ceased to require equal sacrifice from everyone that was eligible to serve," said Bernard Rostker, a former director of the Selective Service System and the author of "I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force."
Lawmakers (and most of the nation) recoiled in horror when Jimmy Carter once tried to get young women to sign up for the draft, and surely many conservatives would still consider drafting women "unfeminine" today. But as Hegar pointed out, women are either equal or they're not. Let's go with "they are."