Should Women Be Drafted?

U.S. Specialist Jennifer Fifield of the 2nd Battalion of the 12th Cavalry Regiment attends a briefing at the forward operating base of Liberty camp April 1, 2007, before leaving for a mission in Baghdad's northwest Sunni neighborhood of Ghazaliya. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (IRAQ) - RTR1O6I2

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved an annual Defense authorization bill containing an amendment that would require women to register for the draft. The amendment narrowly passed on a 32–30 vote.

Since 1940, male citizens of a certain age have been forced to register with the Selective Service System. The amendment, which was proposed by California Representative Duncan Hunter, comes at a time when the military is prepping to integrate women into all front-line, combat positions. Should the measure pass the full House and Senate in the coming months, women may be required by law to register with the Selective Service.

Practically speaking, a draft requirement doesn’t mean much for women. The military has been an all-volunteer force for more than four decades, ever since it became clear during the Vietnam War that draft odds were not applied equally to all American men — low-income males who couldn’t defer by pursuing a college education were more likely to go to war. That draft inequality fueled public backlash, and in the 1970s the Selective Service ended the draft.

Though men still have to register with the Selective Service, no president since has ordered a draft and it seems unlikely a draft will be necessary for any conflicts in the near future.

However, if that were to change, what would gender-neutral compulsory military service look like? For answers, Americans can turn to Israel. The Israeli Defense Forces have allowed women in combat positions since 1995. Today, more than one-third of the IDF’s compulsory service is made up of women.

According to a report from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence, research on the IDF shows that “during service Commanders have recognized that female combatants often exhibit superior skills in areas such as discipline and motivation, maintaining alertness, shooting abilities, managing tasks in an organized manner, and displaying knowledge and professionalism in the use of weapons.”

The same report found that the successful integration of women in traditionally male-dominated combat roles was largely dependent on military leaders. “If the Commander was to express belief in [women’s] ability and considered them to be equal to their male counterparts, then they would eventually become ‘one of the gang,’” the authors wrote.

According to Arieh Shalev, a psychiatry professor at New York University’s School of Medicine. “The fact that males and females are drafted in Israel, it really influences what the attitude is about being at war and serving in the military,” he says. “It’s making the military service everyone’s experience.”

In the U.S.’s all-volunteer force, only a small subset of our relatively large population is tasked with participating in a war. Some soldiers, returning to a country full of citizens who can’t relate to their experiences, can feel a supreme sense of isolation. But in Israel, the shared military (and sometimes combat) experience can help soldiers cope. It can also benefit society at large; soldiers may bring their experiences in a mixed-gender military to the civilian world, helping to create a more gender-equal society.

However, Shalev notes, “the equality comes out of necessity, because the country’s been surrounded by potential enemies and the resources are limited.” Whereas in the U.S. and much of Europe, with all-volunteer forces, an entire generation of men has grown up without the expectation to serve.

Right now, the U.S. has the military manpower it needs without compulsory service, so the decision to include women in the draft would be mostly symbolic. What do you think?

How Women Won in 2015

2015 was quite a year for women and we can’t deny it. Let’s take a deeper look.

Evidence:

In the past year, Hollywood has proven some compelling evidence that action is not far behind. For decades, statistics surrounding females in Hollywood and pop culture have been decreasing. However, just this year, the ACLU filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). No, this wasn’t just passed aside either. The investigation of Hollywood’s hiring practices began last month.

Speaking Out:

There has been an unprecedented number of actors and directors that have spoken out about the inherent sexism in the industry. Jennifer LawrenceRose McGowanViola DavisMaggie GyllenhaalAnna KendrickKirsten StewartMeryl Streep and Sandra Bullock are just a few of those in Hollywood that have taken a stance. I am especially impressed with the number of men that have come forward as well. Mark Ruffalo called out Marvel for its lack of female characters on Avengers merchandise and Daniel Craig called out James Bond’s misogyny. We can’t forget about the HeForShe campaign by the United Nations, thanks to Ziauddin Yousafzai for leading the charge for fathers to stand up for the rights of their daughters.

Technology:

2015 saw incredible examples of activism on social media including the hashtags, #EverydaySexism, #RapeCultureIsWhen, #ShoutYourAbortion, #RedMyLips, #ToTheGirls, and #FreetheNipple. They gave women the opportunity to share their personal stories of sexism, harassment and sexual assault. The social media platform is an inspiration to the next generation of women as they experience things themselves. One example is of technology being used to highlight gender inequity when Tim Hunt said women scientists have a negative impact on the workplace. The Internet reacted with images of proud female scientists who made it clear that this sexism will not be tolerated. Hopefully, some young girls were inspired to consider STEM careers.

Purchasing Power:

We saw consumers hold corporations accountable for their actions. Peopple called out Bloomingdales for their holiday ad that appeared to endorse date rape and Bic for their Think Like A Man campaign. Customers are making it clear that they expect more from if they want their purchasing dollars. Target even announced that their store signage for children would be gender neutral. Some people were happy, some weren’t – but Target took a stance on the issue and gave customers the chance to voice their approval. I think this will continue to be a trend.

The quest for equality is far from over, but I believe that we should be proud with the progress that has been made this past year – and in 2016, we will see more.

ISIS’s New Kind of Invasion & What Is Next?

Rape has historically been used as a war weapon. From Bosnia, to Rwanda, and now ISIS is using the systematic rape of women and even girls from the Yazidi religious minority.

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Just last year, 5,270 Yazidis were abducted, with 3,144 still being held. There is a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery with sales contracts that are notarized by the courts ran by ISIS. There is a network of warehouses where the abductees are held. Then they are moved to viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and then buses will transport them.

Since the young girls are not followers of Islam, the Quran not only gives its followers the right to rape her, but also encourages it. By raping non-believers, Islamists become closer to God. There are more and more internal policies growing with ISIS that narrows and selects specific readings of the Quran and then use them to celebrate each rape as spiritually beneficial, just like a ceremony of worship. Now, the practice is being used as a recruiting tool for men that come from very conservative Muslim societies where casual sex is forbidden and taboo.

But how did this all begin? On August 3, 2014, ISIS fighters invaded villages on the southern side of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. The Yazidis are only a tiny religious minority – representing less than 1.5 percent of Iraq’s population of 34 million. However, this was not just another attempt to extend ISIS territory. The men and women were separated immediately after their capture. If adolescent boys had armpit hair, they joined their older brothers and fathers where they laid down in a field and were sprayed by automatic fire. Women, girls, and children were sent off in trucks. Next, unmarried women and girls were loaded onto buses with the windows blacked out or covered since they weren’t wearing headscarves or burqas. They were held in various cities such a Tal Afar, Solah, Sinjar City, and Ba’aj before being bought and sold for sex.

There has not been a widespread campaign to enslave women from other religious minorities – not yet. However, in a new manual issued by ISIS’s research and fatwa department, they have said that Christian and Jewish women are permissible as well. Last December, in a pamphlet that was published on Twitter, ISIS confirmed that they condone child rape, “if she is fit for intercourse.” There are no bounds for ISIS.

“A Woman’s Place Is On The Money”

Women’s rights and gender equality have been on a lot of minds these days. From Patricia Arquette’s speech for equal pay at the Oscars to the fight in India for women’s rights to be recognized by everyone and not just by lawmakers. It’s interesting to me that although most of the free world considers themselves to be progressive that such inequality is still an issue.

The year 2020 marks an important anniversary in the United States: the 100th anniversary of constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. To commemorate this occasion, a non-profit organization called Women on 20s is setting out to petition the White House to put a female face on the $20 note. For almost a year, they’ve been planning on petitioning President Obama for the change, but now they’ve come to a point in time where they need the voices of the people to help choose who will be on that bill. Their first primary round of voting includes 15 valued American women who’ve helped shape the United States into the society we know today.   

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As seen on nymag.com

Fortunately, the process of making these types of changes is fairly easy (as far as politics go). A petition to the White House takes at least 100,000 names to be heard by the President and to have executive action take place. At that point it’s up to the President to decide whether to go ahead and direct the Treasury Secretary to make the change.

This would be a historic change to the Department of the Treasury. Women have been featured on their coinage, but never on paper bills. In 1978, Jimmy Carter introduced the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. 800 million were minted but they were commonly mistaken for quarters by consumers. In the year 2000, the dollar coin was revived by the gold-hued Sacagawea. By 2012, only 3 million had been minted and clearly never gained popularity. Personally, the only place that I’ve received and used a Sacagawea dollar has been through metropolitan transit terminals and kiosks. How about you?

If you would like more information and would like to cast your vote as to who should be on the $20 bill, you can go to the Women on $20’s website.