The Draft

I know this is rather old news, but I had wanted to mention something about it for some time, and with the current situation in Iraq now seemed as good a time as ever. As some of you may know, on January 7th, 2003, Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) introduced into congress a bill which proposed to re-instate the draft. According to Rangel, this bill is designed not to actually force young men back into a system of compulsory military service, but rather to temper hawkish tendencies amongst members of congress by raising the specter that one of their sons or brothers could be potentially drafted. Rangel’s motivations behind this bill are not of consequence; rather I would like discuss the draft in terms of gender, inequality and the relative status of men and women in our society.*
When I first heard the news that someone was trying to re-instate the draft, my first reaction was one of incredulous disbelief. “What!”? I thought to myself, “I thought that we had left this era of misguided sexual oppression behind us!?” In fact, it seems we have not, and once again another generation of young men are forced to helplessly confront the terrifying specter of gender-targeted oppression which is the draft. But why, especially in this era of “gender equality”, should young men be forced to contend with the possibility of dying a violent death in a strange land simply because they have had the misfortune of being born “the wrong sex”? Furthermore, why was the possibility of a draft- reinstatement greeted with nary a peep from those self-proclaimed proponents of “gender equality” ? After all, isn’t the possibility of giving one’s life for their country a risk that should be spread equally amongst all in a society? Despite this fact, the re-introduced draft bill, in conjunction with draft law currently on the books, continues to firmly hold that men (or should I say boys?), and only men, should be forced to shoulder this burden. *
As a young man, I personally find this blatant sexual discrimination repulsive and anathema to the idea of an egalitarian society; an affront to humanity and the worth of my life as a man and a human being. I am not a pacifist by any means – I firmly believe that war is an unfortunate fact of life that will continue so long as just one person in this world continues to regard it as a plausible option. Framing the natural consequence of this belief, a country’s right to self-defense, within such a realist construct I find myself not inherently opposed to an idea of a draft; citizens should serve the system which provides for them, even if that system ultimately demands their lives in order to continue.
However, such a draft must be performed in as equal and egalitarian a manner as possible – the risk must be distributed equally amongst all those involved. Yet the powers that be hold that a non-egalitarian draft is instead preferable. This system is maintained by the actions of the select few power elites, and the silent acceptance of continued oppression by those affected by the draft.
In order for any draft to be considered equitable and egalitarian, it must encompass all members of society, irrespective of gender, race, and socio economic status. The terrible risks and hazards faced by those drafted into military service must be faced by all members of a society – compulsory military service places a terrible burden upon the draftee: it strips the draftee not only of their fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but even those who are fortunate enough to survive with their lives return to a society that no longer has a place for them. The age demgraphic targeted by the draft, unfortunately, coincides with the time in which most people attend college; disruption of the natural progression into the critical institution of higher learning irrevocably harms the draftee and places him at a disadvantage for the rest of his life. By the time draftees return from their two year services in war torn countries, they find themselves so far beyond their exempt “peers” as to never be able to catch up. In effect, a non-egalitarian draft creates a class of privileged elite at the expense of the life, liberty and happiness of those unfortunate enough to be drafted. As an equal society, this is a terrible injustice against which we must strenuously strive to prevent. Yet that is exactly what occurs when we exempt women from the draft.
In this day and age of feminism, female empower movements and slogans such as “anything you can do, I can do better”, it seems unthinkable that we should continue to exempt women from the fundamental social responsibility of the draft. In the following article, I hope to prove that our society, which claims to be founded on the principles of egalitarianism, must include women in the draft in order to truly be an equitable civilization. Furthermore, I intend show that rather than just merely being included in the draft, women should perhaps even comprise the majority of draftees, given their unique and privileged status within society.
My argument premised upon two simple facts: first, women (in particular white females) are the most privileged class this country has ever produced. Secondly, women benefit disproportionately from modern society, deriving far more benefit at far less cost, than men.

The first fact is perhaps one of the most controversial. Having been inundated for most of our lives with the pop-feminist claim that “society oppresses women” it is somewhat disconcerting to hear someone assert that women are, far from being oppressed, members of the most privileged elite class our society has ever produced. However, the justifications for this claim are undeniable.
Women (in particular white females) have the longest lifespan of any American in history. According to the 2002 census, the average life expectancy for an American female is a staggering 80.2 years. This compares with a paltry 74.5 years for the average American male, and a stunningly low 65.5 years for the average African American male, whom they outlive, on average, by 15 years! In fact, American women are some of the longest lived human beings ever to walk the planet, behind only Japanese females and women from a few select Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, this female advantage (FA in scientific jargon) when it comes to life span is increasing at a rapid rate – that is to say, the amount by which American women outlive American men continues to rise. This alone compellingly suggests that women benefit disproportionately from modern American society.
Not only do American women have the longest lifespan, they also have the highest quality of life of any American in history. American females are far more likely to receive a higher education than their male counterparts. According to the Department of Education, women comprised 56% of all college students in the nation, despite the fact that the number of men outnumber women in this age demographic. In 1996, over 8.4 million girls were enrolled in school, but only 6.7 million boys. Much like the disjunction witnessed in the relative life expectancy ratios, this trend is expected to widen in favor of women. Department of Education projects indicate that by 2007 there will be over 9.2 million young women enrolled in college, but less than 6.9 million boys. In fact, white females comprise the absolute majority of all college students. Women’s increasingly privileged access to education is not limited merely to college. While women have received the majority of bachelor and masters degrees for several decades now, they also excel in primary education, where their drop out rate lies well below that of young en. Furthermore, young women outperform their male counterparts in essentially every measure of academic progress from kindergarten until graduate school (Hoff Sommers, “The War on Boys”; also US Dept. of Education figures). Given the growing importance education has on one’s ability to lead a successful life in modern society, women’s increasingly privileged access to this most important of institutions should be seen as strong evidence of their role as an elite societal class.
American women’s privileged quality of life is also reflected in assorted other statistics. Women (white females in particular) are the least likely of any demographic group in this country to be arrested. Recent (1999) Justice Department estimates estimate that men are 4 times more likely to be arrested than women in general, and 8 times more likely to be arrested than females for violent crimes. (of course, this could be construed to indicate that men commit more crimes than women (depending upon how egalitarian you assume the justice system to be), nevertheless, the point still stands; for whatever reason, women are privileged enough to not be arrested/less likely to be forced into circumstances necessitating anti-social behavior relative to men). Furthermore, of all Americans, women (in particular white females) are the least likely to be victims of violence. According to the 1994 Department of Justice report “Violent Crime: National Crime Victimization Survey” women are half as likely as men to be victims of violence (40/1000 for men, 25/1000 for women). When broken down along racial lines, the disparity is truly stunning: 113/1000 black teenage males are likely to be victims of violence, but less than 3/1000 white females. And this doesn’t even count homicides!
When it comes to homicides, women are truly a protected elite. Men of all races comprise over 78% of all homicide victims in the US (Justice Dept. 1994 report). While black males are murdered at a stunning rate of over 72/100,000, white females barely register at 3/100,000. (This is quite a contrast to the commonly held belief that women are frequent victims of violence.) While violent crime consistently ranks as one of the top killers of American men, it barely registers in the top 10 for American females. It seems clear that women in America are somehow protected from the violence which pervades our society, which I interpret as support of their status as a privileged elite. It is instructive to note that not only are women shielded from violence, they are also far less likely than their male counterparts to commit suicide; for example in 1997 3,792/4493 suicides amongst school age children were boys – girls comprised only 15% of all suicides for the year. While a full discussion of the underlying reasons for this are beyond the scope of this, I feel it is clear that society is taking a tremendous toll on men (young men in particular) while maintaining women as a protected elite.

Having thus asserted that women (white females) are the most privileged class this country has ever produced, I would like to shift my attention to my second point. No less controversial (to the mindset of the average person) than the assertion that women are a privileged elite, is the claim that women benefit disproportionately from modern society.
It is necessary to initially define a few operative definitions. When I refer to “benefits” in this context, I am referring primarily to 2 objective, measurable criterion: life span, and relative threats to said life span. By “disproportionately” I intend to convey the idea that while men may also gain some benefit from modern society, women receive such benefit (and others) above and beyond that which men receive, often for less cost.
According to the United Nations report “The Demography of Population Ageing” [LINK], while the average “female advantage” (by how many years an infant girl can expect to outlive an infant boy at birth) hovers somewhere around 2~3 years for lesser developed countries, in “modern” 1st world countries, this femae advantage jumps to over 8~9 years on average. Furthermore, this phenomenon can be witness by comparing female: male lifespan ratios in developing countries: in virtually every case, the gap by which women outlive men increases proportionally with the level of “development” of the country, arriving at the previously stated figure of 8~9 years with the onset of “developed” status. In modern western societies, women outnumber men in the general population and far outnumber them in advanced age demographics – this contrasts sharply with the trends in lesser developed societies, where, while women still outlive men, the overall picture is far more egalitarian. It is clear that as societies develop, women are deriving the majority of the benefit from the progress.
Why is this? Closer examination of some of the primary killers of women in 3d world nations reveals that women fall victim to infectious disease far more than men. In addition, women are at an elevated risk of dying during pregnancy in lesser developed regions. Yet it is exactly these two threats that modern society has alleviated. Yet at the same time, the march towards modernization fails to ameliorate the risks faced by men: in fact, as societies modernize, they often do so by shifting the burden of progress disproportionately to men (young men in particular). In America, for instance, the push towards modernization was driven almost entirely by the sacrifice of young men: the building of the railroads, dangerous factory work, hazardous construction jobs, and so forth in the early 20th century, and in addition, the brutal demands of corporate slavery in the latter half of the century. [I will refine this point later]. The consequences of these trends? Occupational death rates for men that soar far far far above anything ever seen in women. Heart attack rates in men dwarf those of women. Incidences of stroke (from stress), cancer (from dangerous industrial chemicals), and permanent injury/disability (from work-related injuries) amongst men so far exceeding those of women as to almost be unbelievable. While women get stuck with mundane, “boring” jobs, men get shunted into dangerous, hazardous lines of work. Feminists may complain, but at the end of the day, women in modernizing societies tend to end up safe and alive, while the men end up dead. Men pay a heavy price for modernization, both in life and limb, and women in contrast, tend to reap the majority of the benefits.
In America, these benefits include not only the disproportionate increase in life span and quality of life (as noted above) but also societally constructed benefits as well. For example, given that American women outlive men by over 8 years, the average American woman will receive well over $38,400 more in Social Security benefits than their male counterparts ($400/month x 12 months/yr x 8 years), despite the fact that women contribute less, on average, to the Social Security fund than men.

Given that American women occupy a position of a privileged elite in society (as measured by real world criterion), and furthermore benefit disproportionately from the modern American societal system, you may be wondering, why, again, do we draft only men…!?
To be honest, I am not entirely sure myself! I believe that the sexist draft system has its roots in a complex intersection of powerful male elites (possibly explain in a Darwinist context), feminist special interest politics and a pervading societal sense that men’s lives are inherently worth less than women’s. While I intend to address the first two possible reasons at a later date, I would like to now give a brief treatment of the remaining one.
It should be a very nearly accepted fact that our society tends to place less worth upon a man’s life than a woman’s. Perhaps the clearest and most blatant example of this is the age old adage “Women and children first!”. The idea that a woman’s life is inherently worth more than that of a man’s is implicit in this statement. During times of disaster, it is expected that men are to give uptheir lives (for instance, their seat in a lifeboat) so that women (and children – those not yet “gender-differentiated”) may be permitted to live. Men who violate this societal more are met with scorn and ridicule from both men and women, and branded “cowards” for daring to assert that they have as much a right to live as the woman beside them. We find this deep seated bias against men ingrained in all aspects of society; when we speak of “innocent civilian casualties” during times of war, what we really mean are “women and children” and in fact, the two terms are used interchangeably in the media. As a society, we find the death of a man in war to be “acceptable” yet for some inexplicable reason, are horrified when a woman (or child) is killed. Even those organizations dedicated to the preservation of human life (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Red Cross) fall into this trap of gendered life-weighting; their reports are rife with distinctions between male deaths, generally considered regrettable, but unavoidable, and female/youth deaths, considered “egregious atrocities”.
We find further evidence of the relative value of female to male lives in the subject matter which our media tends to focus on. I sincerely doubt that there is a person in this country who has not been inundated with propaganda and hyperbolistic imaginary figures having to do with the “epidemic of violence which is victimizing American women”. Media sources have churned out countless pieces dealing with violence against women. However, this intense focus on so-called “violence against women” ignores the fact that the rate of “violence against men” so far exceeds that of women as to render it (violence against women) nearly inconsequential (see the figures above). In fact, the immensity of the epidemic of violence sweeping our nation’s men is lost amongst the unflinching attention paid to the relatively insignificant victimization rate among women.
(When the occasional brave media figure dared to raise a question as to the validity of this focus, proponents of this gender-biased societal view promptly shifted attention to the so called “epidemic of domestic abuse amongst women”, a tiny subsection of violent crimes in which they claim women were nearly exclusively victimized. Even this claim ignores the fact that virtually every study of intimate abuse conducted in America in the past 10 years has concluded the not only do men and women suffer from domestic abuse at equal rates, but that women abuse men at a rate equal to, or exceeding that of men abusing women.)
Further evidence of this “desensitization” to the loss of male life can be found in the following: while feminists and other proponents of the “woman as a victim” motif decry what they term “the epidemic of violence against women in movies, television, music and video games”, in fact, even the most cursory of examinations reveals that the great majority of victims of violence in movies, music or video games are males. Despite this (cited by some sources) as great as 9:1 ratio in which men are beaten, brutalized, shot, slaughtered or otherwise killed in entertainment media relative to women, voices of protest ring out the loudest only in response to the occasional depiction of a woman as victim of violence.
Our society, it seems, has an unusual preoccupation with injury or death amongst women, but remains curiously insensitive to violence or death amongst its male members, even when such rates far far outstrip those of women. In conjunction with the exclusive “privileges” extended to the female elite discussed above, this fact seems to compellingly suggest a difference in the way society treats it young men and women. When confronted with these trends, how can young men help but to feel that society values their lives less than those of their female counterparts? How can a young man help but to feel that his life is considered “disposable” while that of his female peer something worthy of preservation?

And so we see: even as women occupy a position of a privilged elite in our society, and benefit disproportionately from society, said society places less value upon men’s lives than those of women. This is nothing less than an affront to the ideas of equality, justice and fundamental human rights. That we should then place the onus of the draft solely upon the shoulders of young men is unthinkable.
I would ask: is it not equitable to distribute the draft according to the relative benefit and status of various members of society? Shouldn’t those who benefit the most from society be responsible for the majority of its defense? Under any other circumstances, when the lives of an disadvantaged minority are devalued, and such people are required to give up not only liberty and happiness, but their very lives, to perpetuate a system that subjugates them to protect a privileged elite, we would call this oppression at best, and slavery at worst.
Yet, despite all our pretenses towards egalitarianism and a “gender equality” we as a society continue to allow this travesty of justice to continue. I wonder why the proponents of gender equality have suddenly fallen silent? Are such activists only interested in “gender equality” when it serves to their advantage? Are we as a society only interested in egalitarianism when it comes to a such weighty issues as “the right for women to belong to the Augusta golf club”…?
The conclusion seems clear. In an ideal world, the burden of the draft, should it be required, would be equally distributed across all members of society regardless of gender, race or socio-economic strata. It is my strong assertion therefore, that based upon the elite privileges of class accorded to women, and the disproportionate benefit which they derive from modern society, that any draft should, at the very least, include women, and arguably, should even be comprised primarily of women. Only in this way can the true interests of justice and equality be served.
*I am aware that Rangel’s bill ostensibly includes both men and women under its national service clause, however, given that all currently existing institutions, including selective service and standing draft law target men exclusively, I feel that Rangel’s attempt to pay lip service to the idea of gender equality is irrelevant. The draft always has, and unfortunately continues to be, solely the fear of young men.
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