…military service is largely a class issue motivated by the lack of social programs in the U.S. such as taxpayer-funded post-secondary education and health care. Service is not really voluntary; it is coerced and incentivized.
…wrote a commenter following an article on the Feministing website about the Jan. 24 announcement that the ban on women in combat would be lifted (to which I contributed a link to the petition I created on Jan. 21 asking that women be required by law to register for Selective Service – full explanation of reasons, including how not registering for the draft doesn’t speak at all to “equality,” here).
Yet, the only easy way to register for the Selective Service is online. You’d think if there were such an effort to snag the less fortunate, SS forms would be as ubiquitous as Chinese restaurant menus (I’m not complaining – I welcome the free menus, because yum).
Others, mostly feminists who support women’s right to be in the military (and even in combat roles) but who disagree with women being drafted, have said it’s because they disagree with Selective Service, period.
As much as I can appreciate that, it’s irrelevant. The Selective Service registry exists, and men have to sign up. Until it’s discontinued, so should women.
I tend to agree with this, said by an acquaintance:
If a government has an obligation to defend its citizens (and presumably defense from outside threats falls under that obligation), then doesn’t a draft fall under that obligation, at least for the case of an existential threat? If the government cannot guarantee the continued existence of the society in the face of an outside threat, then it can’t guarantee any of the other rights of its citizens either. The “state” is ALL of us, collectively. If the state has an obligation to it’s citizens, then WE have that obligation. We are the state.
I went to the post office this weekend looking for an SS form, thinking there would be a slot for them next to the international mail forms, but they didn’t have any. All they had, in a cabinet behind the counter, was a change-of-address form for someone who had already registered. So I went online, and this was what happened immediately after I clicked “Female” when prompted to select a sex on the SS form:
As we know, women are no longer excluded by policy from front line combat positions. So I searched around online until I found a printable form (you’d think it would be easier, but it took a bit of clicking), printed it, poured a glass of wine, and filled it out.
I don’t know what it means, but this is the first form I’ve filled out – in my life – that I haven’t messed up / had to redo.
When I finished, I looked at the mailing address on the detachable part of the form and noticed that it was different from the one on the SS change of address form (which I’d brought home). So I called the SS number and was kept on hold for some time, listening to messages related to Selective Service.
“Women are not required to register.”
“A man must be registered or be exempt to be eligible for most federal jobs… Don’t close the door to opportunities that might be important to your future.”
I tried to imagine having that hanging over my head, what it would feel like to be legally required to register, to have my professional life (and wallet) threatened. But as a woman not subject to this law, I can’t possibly know the feeling.
There are two reasons I want to be subject to the Selective Service requirement, as unappealing as it is: 1) the obvious – equal is equal; 2) I might not have the guts to join on my own if the poopy went down and I had the option not to (even as men slowly left their homes after being called by the government), and that coercion would give me the kick I need.
Argument: But what if you don’t believe in the reason for the draft, if reinstated?
Response: What if men don’t believe in the reason for the draft, if reinstated?
Because women aren’t
required allowed to register for Selective Service (but should be soon), I wrote a note while on hold with the SS office to include with my form so the recipient doesn’t see the checked “female” box and throw it in the shredder.
Finally, a man picked up and I asked about the zip codes, the PO Box numbers.
The addresses were different from form to form, he said, because the PO boxes to send to are based on where the forms come from. But they all get there, he said.
“Is this for you?” he asked.
I said, “No.” I don’t know why. He then tried to direct me to the online form, explaining that mail-in registration can take up to five weeks. I made up some story about it being a hassle to get to the library to use their free internet.
In five weeks or so, I’ll call the number provided by the SS website to check on the status of my registration.
I want them to keep it, and at the same time, it scares me that they might.
There’s a reason I never joined the military, and I’d probably pee my pants if I had to go to war.
I’m sure plenty of men feel the same way.
If you’d like to print your own registry form, here’s where I got mine.
Sorry.Based on the information you submitted (information listed below), a registration record cannot be found for this individual.
That was the online message. Because it was possible they couldn’t find evidence of an online registration (I mailed mine in), I called them to check on it that way.
A man named John answered. When I asked about the form, he said that if they receive a form sent by a woman, “We don’t log them in. There’s no law requiring women to register.”
“What if they want to?” I said.
I asked what would have been done with my form, and he said he didn’t know. I asked if he knew someone who did, and he asked me to hold. After a few seconds he came back on the line and asked where I was calling from. I gave him the state.
“Where in the state?”
I told him the name of the town.
“What business are you calling from?”
“What? This is my cell phone. Why?”
A few seconds later I was connected to a woman who told me, “If it would have come through as a female, we would have shredded it automatically, because we don’t log women.”
The second strike against me (aside from being a woman), she said, was that I was over 26 and, were I a man, would have had to fill out another form explaining why I’d failed to register before turning 26. The law saying that women can’t register for the draft won’t change until the government changes it, she said, followed by (basically), “If you want it to change, write your congressman.”