When I was in college (Class of 1971) I had occasional dates with a small-town girl who was a senior in high school. She was an aspiring journalist, so she was up on current events. Inevitably, the topic of women’s lib came up. I remember her narrowing her eyes and proclaiming in a lilting Tidewater Virginia accent, “It’s not the kind of thing you want to take too far.” I’m sure that in her mind conscription would have constituted a bridge too far.
As I write these words (February 2, 2016), the Selective Service System web site has a headline that shouts: “REGISTER: It’s What a Man’s Got to Do.” It accompanies a picture of a young man with a backpack gazing into a mountain panorama (ironically, it evokes a feeling of freedom). If women are forced to register for the draft, that headline will have to be reworked. Maybe the guy in the backpack will get a photoshopped female companion.
However it shakes out in the future, registration has been a longstanding fact of life for American men. The Selective Service System we know today was originally set up in 1917 to provide manpower for World War I. It went away after the war only to return in 1940, and remained in place not only through World War II, but also the Korean War, the Cold War, and Vietnam. Registration actually went away in 1975, only to return in 1980. This was the result of a presidential proclamation from Jimmy Carter in response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
And so it remains today: All men from 18-25 must register with the draft…if they have any hope of ever getting a student loan, government employment, job training, or are hoping to convert from resident status to citizenship. So if women are required to register, they will have to do so if they want continued access to government goodies – and you know how they don’t wish to kick that habit.
So if the feds declare that females must register, that will surely be a landmark in the history of equal rights, right? Well, don’t pop the cork on that champagne bottle just yet. Registering for the draft is one thing, getting drafted is something else, and getting sent into combat is something altogether different. Miss Daisy ain’t laser cannon fodder just yet.
First of all, if females are forced to register, that doesn’t mean the draft is coming back after more than four decades’ absence. Even if a serious shooting war starts, the draft is resurrected, and females are called up for physicals, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will have to serve on the front lines, or that they will have to serve at all. There are ways around it all, with or without a pussy pass.
The secret society known as your local draft board will have a lot to say about it. The composition of that board – e.g., how many women and how many manginas – will play a big part.
I was in the second semester of my freshman year in college when I visited my draft board to register. It was truly a rite of passage, but not one I looked forward to. Predictably, VFW and American Legion types exhorted the youngsters to do their duty, but there were no White Feather Girls out there shaming young men to sign up.
Activists against the war and the draft were legion. Some were out-and-out pacifists and some were specifically against the Vietnam War. I don’t know anyone who burned his draft card, but the mass media dwelled on it.
The social justice warriors griped that poor and black young men were disproportionately drafted and killed. That egalitarian argument, however, did not extend to the absence of female draftees. The subject never came up. The second wave of feminism was cresting at that time, but it was quite choosy about which issues it washed over. That selectivity did not include the Selective Service System.
Conscription avoidance was a popular topic at bull sessions at men’s dorms and frat houses nationwide. The college deferment was tried and true. So long as you remained a full-time undergraduate, you were safe.
I thought I was home free. Surely, that Vietnam nonsense would be over before I graduated. After all, America’s involvement in World War II – the Big One! – lasted less than four years. Not only that, Richard Nixon said he had a secret plan to win the war!
Nevertheless, the rumble in the jungle dragged on and on. There was a distinct possibility that the war would still be going on when I graduated. So as reliable as the college deferment was, it was only a stay of execution.
Today, given the preponderance of women at colleges, the student deferment would be claimed en masse if a unisex draft were instituted. Come to think of it, bringing back the draft would probably do more than anything else to get more men to enroll in colleges. Having to put up with gender studies requirements and burdensome student loans would be a snap compared to combat in some Middle Eastern hellhole. Even a non-marketable major could serve a purpose, namely, keeping you alive.
Come to think of it, an increased demand for student deferments would likely prevent a lot of marginal institutions from going under – not necessarily a good thing. During the Vietnam era, Parsons College was a legend, but not in a positive way. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, Parsons was sometimes referred to as “Flunk Out U,” since they would take anyone who could draw breath. At this point in time, It would be difficult to separate fact from fiction regarding this peculiar institution, which went bankrupt in 1973…coincidentally, the same year the military announced it was going to an all-volunteer system.
Four years before that, one of the singular events for young men of my generation occurred: The draft lottery. In the fall of 1969, every TV in the men’s dorm was tuned to General Lewis Hershey, Director of the Selective Service System, picking 366 dates (1970 was a leap year) from a fish bowl and posting them in order. It was widely rumored that if your birth date was in the second half (183 or above), you were probably home free. The lower your number, the better your chances of getting drafted after graduation.
According to the Selective Service System web site, if the draft comes back, so does the lottery. So, young ladies, be prepared that one day the head of the Secret Service System may be (as in the lyrics of “Secret Agent Man”) “giving you a number and taking away your name.” Believe me, you won’t feel special.
I must admit I did feel semi-special in 1969 when my draft number was close to 300; I was safe unless World War III broke out or Viet Cong saboteurs took out Disneyland. Highly unlikely, so on to graduate school! I cannot underestimate the feeling of relief that washed over me when I found out that my life would remain my own.
My roommate was not so lucky. His number was so low that getting drafted was a virtual certainty. Or was it? Next thing I knew, he was making regular visits to a cardiologist to make sure his cardiovascular “problems” were on the record. Funny thing…I’d been living with this guy for four semesters and he’d never said anything to me about health problems.
If young women are subject to the draft post-college, they can be expected to visit doctors in an attempt to get themselves classified as 4-F. Of course, the best medical excuse for a woman is pregnancy. I can easily see a female vulnerable to the draft doing everything possible – sperm bank included – to get pregnant before that induction physical. As soon as she is rejected, she can make a beeline to the abortion clinic and then resume her precious careeeeeer.
Ah, but there are other options besides pregnancy. Women can always play the conscientious objector card. Given the female penchant for deception, I think they could pull it off. In the meantime, better soft-pedal any professions of atheism.
Another option is obesity. In that regard, today’s young women definitely have an advantage over the young women of my youth.
Of course, being a mental case will also exempt you. Again, advantage contemporary women, especially the ones with green hair. Raging misandry would be duly noted, since young women would be required to work with men. Horror of horrors, they might even have to take orders from male officers! So if the draft comes back, look for social media to be flooded with extreme expressions of misandry so draft-eligible females have a longstanding record of same.
In the old days, homosexuality was enough to get you off the hook. I don’t think a profession of lesbianism would work today, however. Hell, a diesel dyke might prove useful in the motor pool.
As I recall, other methods of avoiding the draft were the stuff of urban legends. One was over-consumption of protein. Supposedly, over-dosing on eggs would do the trick. Another was going without sleep for several days.
Then there was the simple refusal to step forward. Supposedly, if the recruits who passed the physical stepped forward after being ordered to do so, that was tantamount to “volunteering” to join the military, thus avoiding the constitutional prohibition against involuntary servitude. Stand your ground and you cannot be inducted. If you get a chance, try it and let me know how it works out.
Probably the best known method of draft dodging during Vietnam was migrating to Canada. I could see a lot of women doing that if need be. There are plenty of jobs in Toronto and Montreal (and a good opportunity to practice your high school French), and Vancouver is scenic with a relatively mild climate. Anywhere in Canada would be a great venue for showing off winter fashions, so pack your Ugg Boots. Prime Minister Trudeau, arguably the biggest pussy sniffer of any contemporary head of state, will surely welcome American women as refugees.
At any rate, don’t conclude that dead damsels will one day be coming home from foreign wars in Gucci body bags. It’s one thing to sing the praises of female Army Rangers, Navy Seals, or fighter pilots before war breaks out. If it comes down to a life-or-death shooting match, I think the females, even if drafted, will be in the rear echelon. That would hardly constitute equality, but nubile, neotenous women at the peak of fertility being tortured, riddled with bullets, or blasted to smithereens would hardly boost morale on the home front.
Clearly, such a policy would be discriminatory, but there is an upside for men. Whining about male privilege will likely be suppressed by the mute button.