NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gender Equality: Should Women be Drafted?

November 15, 2001

Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen thinks women as well as men should have to register with the Selective Service for a possible military draft. It's only fair, she says.

Quindlen disagrees with the usual arguments made against drafting women for military duty: that women would spoil esprit de corps, aren't physically strong enough, would distract male soldiers and would get raped as prisoners of war. She points out that women served in the Persian Gulf and that even now female pilots are dropping bombs on Afghanistan.

However, columnist Kathleen Parker asks to whom is it unfair that women are excluded? 

  • The reason women aren't required to register with Selective Service, says Parker, is because the purpose of a draft, as currently conceived, is to create a combat-ready force.
  • Since women aren't permitted to fight in direct combat, a female draft is irrelevant.
  • On the other hand, if the military draft were reconceived to create a smarter, not necessarily combat, force, women should be included because in non-combat roles most men and most women are more or less equal.
  • However, in demanding physical contests, with rare exceptions they're not; thus, pitting women against men in battle is not "fair."

Parker apparently thinks that women would be less likely to avoid a universal draft with noncombat roles for women than a strictly military draft.

"Were Congress to enact a female draft," she concludes, "the post-World War II baby boom would look like a puddle next to the ensuing obstetrical tsunami. America suddenly would be awash in single, 18-year-old mothers.

"Biology not only matters, it rules; and pregnant women don't do war very well."

Source: Kathleen Parker, "Gender equality isn't a fair question in war,", November 14, 2001.


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