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We Can’t Pretend The Sexes Are The Same Without Sending Women To War

female soldier
Image CreditU.S. Army/Flickr/Rawpixel/public domain

If our society accepts the faulty premise that there are no differences between men and women, women have no grounds for objecting to compulsory combat duty.


Fifty years ago, Phyllis Schlafly pointed out the obvious: If our society accepts the faulty premise that there are no differences between men and women, women have no grounds for objecting to compulsory combat duty.

Earlier this month, the United States House of Representatives passed a military spending reauthorization that requires women to register for the draft. Under these provisions, both women and men will be automatically registered upon their 18th birthday.

As Joy Pullmann noted in another article for The Federalist, it is logical to require women to register for the Selective Service. If women want the civic privilege of voting, they bear responsibility for the defense of the nation. Pullman writes, “It’s not fair for women to get the same privileges as men without also executing the same responsibilities. If women want to vote and be treated in every way by our government as if they are actually men, that includes being subject to the draft.”

While she may be right about the legal argument, I, for one, do not want my daughters eligible for the draft when they come of age. And more than 100 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, good luck convincing women to burn their voting cards and return to republican government as the founders intended.

Schlafly’s Concerns

What are we to do? Follow the wisdom of Phyllis Schlafly. When the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed Congress in the 1970s and began barreling through state legislatures, close to achieving the two-thirds ratification required, Schlafly learned more about it. Alarmed by what she saw, she dedicated herself to stopping the ERA.

Schlafly had a long list of concerns about how the ERA would affect federal and state laws, including the fact that women would have no grounds for objecting to military service. Any laws exempting women from the draft or combat duty would be nullified by the amendment defining men and women as exactly the same. On this point, even Schlafly’s fiercest critics had to agree.

Similarly, today we find ourselves in the way of a seemingly unstoppable movement to put women on the front lines, despite 50 years of evidence that it is bad for women and bad for combat units, which are at a disadvantage when military operations try to integrate women. Below are three simple lessons from Schlafly to consider.

Do Not Accept the ‘Inevitable’

While there is likely no stopping this year’s military spending reauthorization, we do not have to accept as inevitable the premise that women are the same as men.

The people who are not excited about the changes to draft eligibility are the very people they affect most directly: young women. Polling data shows that while 67 percent of men over age 55 support making women eligible for the draft, only 40 percent of women under 30 do. While women like to pay lip service to radical equality with men and the baseless idea that there are no differences between the sexes, when they might get called up for combat, they have a different opinion.

The Babylon Bee depicted this duplicity hilariously in a video about an angry feminist who is more than happy to start making sandwiches when it looks like the tanks are rolling in. It’s not just a joke, though, and we should engage women who don’t want to be dropped into combat against their will. The changes only become inevitable when no one objects.

Understand the Issues

Believe it or not, there are women who view it as a triumph of equality to have women sent to the bloody battlefield. We have become so sloppy in our thinking that people argue women are “already serving in combat” because they die close to the field of combat. While we should commend and honor the heroic sacrifices of women, their sacrifices do not amount to combat.

Others note that because so many men are not physically and psychologically fit for military service, we should allow women. This fact is an indication that our nation has a crisis of health that needs to be addressed, not a reason to lower our standards.

In the inimitable words of Gen. George Patton, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Combat requires more than a heroic willingness to die for one’s country. Successful combat requires superior strength, endurance, and lethality. If Patton’s words hurt your feelings, just wait until you see how the demands and deprivations of combat feel. The fact remains that combat service is bad for women and bad for the strength of our military.

Stop Complaining About Motherhood

In closing her article, Pullmann challenges readers to “start embracing your womanhood.” Not every woman will become a mother, but every woman is defined by this capacity. The possibility of bearing new life into the world is why women are not as strong as men. The ability to nurture new life results in cyclical changes in a woman’s body that affect strength and cognition. A generation of nonsensical television shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has blinded us to these basic facts, but reality is still there to discover.

If you want special treatment (like opting out of the draft) to accommodate these biological realities, it’s time to stop complaining about them.

The recent provisions requiring women to register for the draft are unfortunate. Schlafly saw this as the necessary result of pretending men and women are exactly the same. Just as she predicted that women would not remain exempt from the draft, Schlafly also gave us a model for resisting bad policy. While we may not have the organizational aptitude of Schlafly, we would do well to follow her example as best we can. Our daughters, the future conscientious objectors, deserve nothing less.

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