I am a lifelong feminist and I am a lifelong pacifist, and I do not support extending draft registration to women. Yep you heard it right Congress is about to vote on extending draft registration to womyn. Jimmy Carter first reinstated draft registration after the end of the Vietnam war had ended it, back in 1980. At that time all young men ages 18 thru 20 were required to register. Many young men bravely publicly refused to register for the draft, challenging a system they felt would quickly lead to another active draft and more US military aggression. A few were prosecuted, thousands quietly did not register, the justice dept decided to start ignoring that the system was failing. (Audits showed most did not put in change of address forms and the usefulness of the registration cards was ever increasing.) Despite many states making registration automatic with getting a driver's license and the "Soloman amendment passing, denying Federal financial aid to those young men who could not show they had registered. And still they system has been so incomplete and inaccurate to be useless, and the military has continued to fill its ranks from the "all volunteer" military. Otherwise known as the poverty draft.
So why at this point in time would the government seek to extend the failing draft registration to womyn? The answer is interesting. A few years back several young men sued the federal government stating that draft registration was sexual discrimination because it only applied to men. They are correct of course. And they won. The government has been given a deadline and then and extension due to change of administrations to resolve the problem. The Trump administration spent a year with the NCMNPS holding hearings around the country that were quite restricted in who was allowed to testify at these "public" hearings. They toyed with ideas like making a mandatory public service for all young people for two years. (Hitler's youth?) While not military it would have done things in the public interest...as defined by who? Sounded like building a wall on the Mexican border to me. The Biden administration is just going with the recommendation of the commission that toured around which is that women be included in draft registration. No serious consideration seems to have been given to the other obvious solution to the problem: cancel registration for any gender.
The NCMNPS heard testimony from a former Director of the Selective Service System that the current SSS database is so incomplete and inaccurate as to be "less than useless" for an actual draft, and that registration should be ended rather than expanded to women. But the NCMNPS conducted no research on current or likely future compliance, noncompliance, or enforcement of the registration requirement. This is an outdated system that has never been used for an actual draft, never functioned well even 41 years ago when implemented. At a cost of $23 million dollars a year, this is just a waste. This means we have in my lifetime wasted $943 million dollars on this fiasco.
The tired logic has been trotted out again that if women are serious about equality that this means they must do this too. I am sorry but it is not a "move forward" for womyn to be eligible to be equally shot at, maimed or killed against their wills....because a draft is against your will by definition. It is a joke to make this claim at the same moment that womyn lost jobs at record rates in the pandemic and Roe Vs Wade is more threatened than it has been since the original ruling - in a year where womyn may actually lose control over their reproductive rights. But will gain the right to mandatorily be killed in war.
Womyn AND men deserve the right to equal OPPORTUNITIES (threat of death is not an opportunity). They deserve the right to equal choices - I stand for the rights of womyn who chose military service or who chose abortion. But neither group deserve to be equally oppressed. So I don't think we should keep the oppression for just one group (men). I think we should finally end this flawed and pointless draft registration system.
Womyn deserve equal rights but they are not the same as men. There are still differences between men and womyn and differences that create increased risk factors for womyn in militarized zones. The most obvious one here being the much greater likelihood of a female solider being raped whether by the “enemy” or as military records reveal disturbingly by her own fellow soldiers or commanding officers (25% were sexually assaulted by fellow recruits and 80% were sexually harassed. In fact, currently they are more likely to be raped in service than killed in service). Womyn in addition are on average not as strong and thus more prone to injury from things like marching long distances with a heavy bag on their back. (Stats show womyn having twice the injury rate in training then men.) But also studies are very clear that womyn are far more prone to PTSD – thus putting them in a situation very likely to create PTSD is putting them at more risk. (10% of womyn wind up reporting PTSD versus the 4% of men reporting PTSD – although this is in part due to the high sexual assault rate.)
The solution to fixing a broken system which is unconstitutionally applied to only one gender is not to apply the same mistake to both genders! So far the wrong question has been asked which is whether to include women in draft registration. The correct question would be whether to end the militarizing of our young people of either gender. A draft (which this registration collects contact info for) is by definition is to enforce service against people’s wills. It is (despite court rulings to the opposite) involuntary servitude. It is wrong to force people of either gender to commit acts of violence and to face potential maiming, psychological harm or death. Let us create equality by treating both genders right rather than imposing on women the same harm already imposed upon men.
Friends, FCNL strongly fought to end the draft at the end of the Vietnam war and also opposed its reinstitution in 1980. But now it is "not a priority". I understand we have limited staff and have to pick what we can do, have many issues we have worked on for years, etc. But FCNL in theory sets its priorities by having Meetings vote on priorities but this is not even brought to us to vote on. Non-violence, anti-militarism and the Peace testimony are historic issues for Friends, and yet most Friends do not even know that their daughters and granddaughters are about to be made draftable, because FCNL is not informing us. Please let them know you do want this addressed.
Also write to your Congressional representatives and let them know you want it to at least have a hearing in the House (more than happened in the Senate) and that you do not want this applied to women but rather a bill like HR 5492 from last year that would cancel draft registration altogether. To change what is required for half the population when they reach the age of majority, to impose a requirement that if utilized could result in their deaths, and to do this with no hearing is outrageous!