I'm interested in the discussion (a civil one, I am happy to say) below this post. The subject of men, women, and the draft has come up. The military draft is a troublesome issue for feminists and pro-feminists, as it brings a variety of important issues together: equality for women, social justice, and the morality of war, just to name a few. From the discussion, I can sketch together a few basic positions:
1. Social Conservative/Traditionalist: Women should not be drafted. Women should not serve in combat positions even in a volunteer army, because their primary role ought to be as wives and mothers, not "cannon fodder." The fact that women are already fighting and dying in Iraq is a disgrace. Men, on the other hand, are natural protectors and fighters and ought to be required to serve.
2. Men's Rights Advocates: Women ought to be treated exactly as men are treated. If and when a draft is reinstated, women ought to be drafted. Women should be required to register with Selective Service, just as men do now. Ala Warren Farrell, men bear an unequal burden; they could be conscripted and are forced to register for that conscription, while women will not bear that burden of being required to fight for their country.
3. Feminists: Well, not surprisingly, there is no clear feminist unanimity on this issue. Liberal feminists who favor full inclusion for women in all aspects of society tend to support Selective Service registration for women, as well as the opportunity for women to serve in combat. More radical feminists tend to oppose registration and all forms of military service for both sexes. But few serious feminists defend the current system; they either want more women in the military or they want a complete re-think of how our nation wages war.
Here's where my pacifism actually leads me into agreement with some of the Men's Rights Advocates. (Shock of all shocks.) Warren Farrell, a man I disagree with 85% of the time, is absolutely right when he calls Selective Service registration "the psychological preparation to be disposable." Farrell is rightly upset that our national rhetoric around war sees men's bodies as not worthy of protection:
We don't call the one-million men who were killed or maimed in one battle in World War I (the Battle of the Somme) a holocaust, we call it "serving the country."
Indeed. Pro-feminist men (of whom I count myself one) and MRAs share, I think, a real sense of outrage at cultural messages that glorify the deaths of young men in battle. We share a mutual anger at those from all points of the political spectrum who argue that men have a natural inclination for violence that somehow makes their dying in battle justifiable.
But few MRAs are actual pacifists. I oppose the draft because I am fundamentally opposed to war on religious and ethical grounds; I don't want either my sisters or my brothers fighting. The thought of any of my loved ones being killed -- or killing -- fills me with equal horror. And I get angry at right-wing rhetoric that cheapens men's lives:
America owes much to its women service members.
But they shouldn't be in combat. First, they are the bearers of life and the heart of family life, an utterly indispensable role. When America sends young women off to war, watching them kiss their toddlers goodbye, we are making a moral choice that children are just not important anymore. It is much more important to drive a military truck. This callousness is an outgrowth of the abortion culture in which human life itself is cheapened. Any job those women do could be done by a man, but nobody else can be a mother to her children. It is bad enough for children to lose their father, but it is utterly unnecessary for them to lose their mother...
If women are utterly indispensable, what are men? Here, I think, pro-feminists, feminists, and MRAs can stand together. While some would like to see women drafted alongside men, and others would like to see a world where war was renounced forever as a policy tool, we can all agree that a worldview that sees men as fundamentally more dispensable than women is abhorrent.
I stand with my feminist allies who push men hard to change. I'm a pro-feminist because I want to see the men in my life become better lovers, husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. I'm a pro-feminist because I refuse to believe that men are biologically oriented towards domination, violence, and poor parenting skills. I'm a pro-feminist because I believe that both men and women benefit from a society where gender roles are less rigid and more fluid, and where both men and women have access both to political and economic power as well as the opportunity to nurture the vulnerable. But I'm also a pro-feminist man because I love men.
My faith tells me that every life is equally precious, from the unborn in the womb, to the hungry child in a refugee camp in Darfur, to the murderer on death row in Texas, to a lance corporal in the Marine Corps. My consistent-life ethic tells me that no living body is more or less valuable than any other, whether or not it is has a brain, whether or not it has committed a crime, whether or not it has a penis.
According to the God who loves us and made us, we are all, each and every one of us, "utterly indispensable."