Should Women be Included in the Draft?


Last year my daughter was invited to a princess party. Although not exactly a girly-girly, she was thrilled to walk into a room filled with tiaras and tutus, eye shadow and nail polish. The image of fluttering tutus and giggling princesses flashed through my head as I read the news that women may be included in a possible future draft. And when I thought about every princess at that party, including my own, being drafted into the military, I couldn’t help but pray that never happens.

With the recent decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat, the subject of gender equality is on everyone’s minds. And it seems that the topic of women being included in the draft, should it be reinstated, is a logical consequence of this breaking down of gender boundaries in the military.

As a mother of both a son and a daughter, I constantly grapple with the desire to put my children on equal footing along gender lines. I’m trying to raise my little girl to be a strong, independent woman. I want her to have the same career opportunities as her brother and to question anyone who tells her she doesn’t.

That being said, I’m not quite sure I would want my daughter to serve in the military at all, even voluntarily. But, for now, she has the option. It’s her choice whether or not that’s an avenue she’d like to pursue. However, I can’t reconcile the thought of her being forced into military service, especially if she’s not physically or mentally prepared to serve.

As much as the modern woman in me applauds the opening of new opportunities for women in the military, I have to admit the mom in me struggles with my own double standards. After all, when I think of my son being drafted, I think of him playing laser tag with his buddies, their faces covered in camouflage paint as they grab their laser guns and bravely run off into simulated war. I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of dread and the fierce need to go into parental protection mode at the thought of him being faced with the draft. Of course I would prefer that he have the right to exercise his own free will with regard to military service, but the idea of him being drafted isn’t nearly as frightening as imagining his sister right there alongside him.

This isn’t the first time the subject of women and the draft has been a consideration. But the movements to include women in Selective Service registration and make them eligibile for the draft never got off the ground primarily because of the ban against women in combat. Well, now that that pesky ban has been lifted, guess what? There may no longer be sufficient cause to continue exempting women from the draft. We can’t get rid of one double standard without tossing out the other, right?

Personally, I don’t think the draft is coming back anytime soon. Maybe it should so we can bridge that lingering gap in understanding between the civilian and military populations. And maybe women do need to be included in the draft’s revival.

But as long as I have that image of fluttering tutus and giggling princesses, I’m okay with that double standard remaining in place.

Do you think women should be included in the draft if it’s reinstated, especially now that women are permitted to serve in combat roles? Is it a double standard that men should be subject to the draft but not women?

About the Author

Heather Sweeney
Heather Sweeney is an Associate Editor at, former Navy wife, mother of two, blogger, and avid runner. She’s the blogger formerly known as Wife on the Roller Coaster and still checks in every now and then at her blog Riding the Roller Coaster.

27 Comments on "Should Women be Included in the Draft?"

  1. As a mother of four girls(one of which is serving in the military) and two boys. Our girls grow out of that princess stage and many turn into that paint ball, gear wearing, war playing kinda girls. The idea that if one of my girls could want and be able to head into Selective Service and serve in combat. Makes me proud. Proud that these boundaries are coming down, and yes there is that fear, just as with my sons. If a draft were to be reinstated, then it is only fair that women, possibly our girls, should also be included. Not all men are suited to be military, but if our country calls then they (most) suit up. The same should also apply to women. With walls coming down and barriers being broken for women to be equal, then equal it should be.

  2. Becca in AK | January 29, 2013 at 7:12 pm |

    I have one daughter and three sons and I don't like the idea of any of the them being drafted. Yes, I think women should sign up for selective service. I have to admit I don't really understand the difference between your daughter vs. your son being drafted. Its the same argument that people make saying Americans wont stand for seeing women killed or injured. Why is a women's life more valuable than a man's?

    • It's not that women’s lives are more VALUABLE, it’s that we inherently understand (as societies have throughout history) that women are more VULNERABLE. When we see our men coming home in pieces, we lament our loss, but we console ourselves with the hope that they did not die in vain, the belief that they died fighting against evil, and the knowledge that we did our best to protect them with the best armor, weapons, tactics, and leadership that we could provide. When our women come home in bags, we find it harder to convince ourselves that we did everything we could to protect them. Because we know that we sent them into a fight to the death with a physical disadvantage. And we know, in our hearts, that if we had been serious about protecting them, we would have never sent them in the first place. Like Patton said, you don't win wars by dying for your country, you win by making the other bastards die for their country. And throwing your women under the bus doesn't help.

  3. mongolberry | January 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |

    I don't let either my son or daughter play at war or pretend to have guns or shoot people and I will be devesated if either of my children join the military.

  4. this is just terrible. IF there was a emergency of such a great extent that a draft was needed- we NEED people at home to protect/ raise our children. Like it or not WOMEN are the primary caretakes and MEN are the primary war fighters. We as women do not fully understand what we have asked for / been given. Drafting our women into war shows that our nation is headed down the wrong path. So sad to see our military used a some political social experiment.

  5. Food for thought ….. I am a female that served in the military. I don't believe that women should be in combat or drafted. Regardless to how equal we want to be there are physical differences that are not conducive to females being in combat. You will find females dealing with disease as they will not be able to care for their bodies properly. We will most likely lose far more lives because men have an innate sense that says they should protect women. My daughters want have worry about the draft but I pray my granddaughters don’t have to face the draft or serving in combat. I really don’t know what the leaders of this country are thinking or if they are thinking. The ban should be reinstated.

  6. You bet they should !

  7. Politically Correct | January 30, 2013 at 9:47 am |

    Why not? I mean Demi Moore did all the things men did and probably more in "GI Jane" right? This is the time for the politically correct civilian leadership and their lap dog politically motivated military big shots to put up or shut up… exact same infantry training, advanced training and specialized training; no adjustments for their being a "non-male person." Everything must be shared, no separate latrines or showers. Everything equal.

  8. Draft them and put them at the front of the line. They should follow male standards for fitness and carry the same loads.

  9. If you want to talk about double standards that should really be addressed look at fitness standards for men and women!! Equality for sure!

  10. Yup. Maybe when they see “princess” or “Buffy” coming back in body bags en masse, armchair warriors will think twice about sending our kids off to fight for some corporate interest or to settle a family score…

  11. Yellow Devil | January 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm |

    We have come to a point in society when we make rules based off the exceptions instead of making exceptions to the rules. Basically, when a minority whines about political correctness, than everyone else has to suffer in order to "address" the issue. For the maybe five (if that) percent that want and can be front line infantry, it forces the draft to be expanded to all females now. Call it unattended consequences, call it just plain stupid, but whatever. The philosopher kings have spoken, therefore it must.

    • Becca in AK | January 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm |

      I'm sorry when did 51% of the population become a minority?

      • I'm thinking that Yellow Devil was saying that 100% of women (in fact far far less than 100%) were NOT thinking this whole women in combat was a good idea, much less complaining about it.. The "whinners (of ether gender) being the minority, not women being a minority. That being said, put women in combat units during an offensive high intensity war and see what the percentage (male v. female) of casualties are. I would expect your 51% to decrease….as more women die. (not something I'm comfortable with).

  12. The draft should be re-activated and every one serve in the military with NO exceptions and no deferments.
    That way even the sons and daughters of our Congress will get to serve. Maybe then, with their own kids lives on the line, these idiots will stop the interventions, police actions, and conflicts that have nothing to do with us.

  13. If a women wants to fight, by all means that is her decision and should be supported. But why force the women who do not want to fight? I'm sorry ladies but you wanting "equal rights" are taking the rights away from the ones who want to stay home and care for their children. The ban is not fair because it is taking the right to fight away from the ones who want to fight and if they choose to draft women that is not fair because it will be forcing women to fight who do not want to. I say to let the woman choose what she wants to do. If you want to fight, sign up for it, if not then don't. Choose your female fighters from the list that signed up for it and leave the ones who don't mind the ban alone. Simple as that.

    • The draft would also force men to fight who do not want to. Equal means equal, not separate but equal, not equal but separate.

  14. Old-tanker6 | February 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

    Yes, then maybe that nation would not be so quick to commit our troops to war, I alway said the senseless wars would end when we have a draft.

  15. "However, I can’t reconcile the thought of her being forced into military service, especially if she’s not physically or mentally prepared to serve." How is this different than your son being forced into military service if he's not physically or mentally prepared to serve?

  16. "We can’t get rid of one double standard without tossing out the other, right?"

    Ha! Where are you living? This is America! We can be as hypocritical as we please, with as many double standards as we want!! If we want one college admissions standard for "minorities" and another for "non-minorities", we'll do that in a heartbeat, with no regrets. If we want one immigration standard for Mexicans and another for Africans, or Asians, we'll simply vote it into being, and label anybody who points out our hypocrisy as a racist. Seriously, when was the last time you saw logic trump public opinion? You don't think we will allow women in combat without adding them to the draft? One is politically popular, the other is not. That is all that matters here in the new US of A.

  17. I agree with the majority here that the imposition of a new draft law should, as a matter of fairness, include women for the reasons stated by the posters.

    However, that will never happen as a lawsuit which sought to include women in draft registration has already been dismissed and it is a certainty that any future lawsuit like that will be summarily dismissed as well. The reason for this being that the courts have given themselves the authority to create any doctrine which will serve as a rationale to justify government policy despite the inconsistency and lack of principle in such a judgment. The courts will cite Rostker v. Goldberg as precedent and will consider it binding on all future litigation.

    Like most of you, I do not like double standards. It is patently unfair that someon'e teen son should be in the hospital because of combat injuries and being restricted to a low paid job due to injuries while another's daughter is frolicking in college with the assurance of a high paid job because of the diploma she will get. But the government, and courts, will say double standards do not apply in this case. First, a male only draft mechanism is already in place and it would not cost the government much to implement it. However, female inclusion in a draft would cost the government billions more in terms of housing, gender specific clothing & sanitary needs & medical needs, and thousands of teens girls would deliberately get pregnant in order to avoid military service – this would increase the amount of illegitimate births, increase social welfare costs, and take teens and young women out of the work force so that they can care for their children at home. The inevitable consequence is that taxes will increase in order to provide for these costs. That will stimulate many politicians, judges, and taxpayers to vote for exclusion of females in the new draft.

    Some here say that drafting women and forcing them into combat will help end our involvement in foreign wars. Well, I'll concede that this will stimulate many to protest against foreign interventionism. But a better way to end foreign wars i to impose a 100% excess profits tax on all war profits. Make it impossible for the Bechtels and Halliburtons of this society to profit from war and we will not have any more wars. As our Founding Fathers demanded over 200 years ago – stay out of all foreign entanglements. Their wisdom in this regard is one that must beheeded today if we are to have peace.

  18. While I do applaud the very, and I do mean VERY, small amount of women of an even smaller population that choose to serve in a combat role I think that including women in the draft would be an awful idea. Women are inherently weaker both mentally and physically when it comes to such a task as defending a nation against enemies foreign and domestic. History and some of the previously mentioned posts has shown this. Adding women involuntarily will only provide Soldiers that won't be on the same playing field as their male counter parts and will only serve to compromise the success of the mission. You're only as strong as your weakest link and in times of desperate need if there ever is a draft most women wouldn't make the cut.

  19. We already DO have this. Even if women haven't officially fought in combat roles, they have fought at the front lines nonetheless.

    Besides, being a soldier doesn't mean losing one's identity. I am sure the entire Israeli Army can attest to that.

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