Friday, October 21, 2016

Equal Responsibility

We’re in the midst of preparing our final child for college.  He is a senior in high school and my wife has been busily assisting with the FAFSA (financial aid form).  One of the interesting things about FAFSA is that the student is supposed to fill it out, but of course the student is not in a position to know much of the financial information that is required.  Thus, my wife “helps”.  But this year was different... a couple weeks back my wife came downstairs after a FAFSA session and related that she went as far as she could but was stopped when it required “Selective Service Registration”… and she relates with a shiver, “that’s one thing I’m not filling for him.. I just don’t feel comfortable.”

A few months a post was submitted in our politically correct workplace advocating for the rights of women who are physically and mentally qualified to choose to serve in a combat role.  To me, that seems to beg the easy question as if someone is qualified and the voluntarily choose to do so, why shouldn’t they be allowed?  The more challenging question in this push toward equality might be whether women should be compelled to register for a draft and thereafter drafted just like males.  When phrased this way, I find there is much more hesitancy to answer.

My leisure reading also seemed to converge with this topic, having recently finished a read of “All the Daring of the Soldier:  Women of the Civil War Armies” by Elizabeth D. Leonard.  This was an interesting read; I seek out readings that are a little different and I don’t disagree with anything that was said by Ms. Leonard.  Certainly anyone who serves deserves recognition whether they are male or female.  What is important to note however is while Ms. Leonard relates that there may have been hundreds of women who served such activity by a female at the time was atypical.  To put this in perspective I did a quick Google search and quickly learned from VA records that there were over 2 million in the Union army and over 1 million in the Confederate army.  So even if you round female participation up to 1,000, that would still leave around a 3 million males – quite an imbalance.

And so it is that I don’t subscribe to the “Oppression of Women” model.  Yes, I understand there were some differences in role expectations between the genders but to frame it as one gender oppressing the other is a disservice to us all.  While Civil War era women may have lamented over their inability to vote perhaps many of those 3 million males lamented over their fate to be in war; both being gender based.  My intent here is not to bash women.  If we consider equality to mean “fairness” then I think we need to carefully fairness to both genders.  While we are busy crusading for equal pay for equal work, perhaps we should also look to eliminate gender bias in the administration of auto insurance rates and life insurance.  (Yes, I understand that males may be involved in more auto accidents and also die earlier…BUT gender isn’t permitted as a factor in computing health insurance rates where women cost more)… and as far as selective service, perhaps equal rights should also mean equal responsibility and either we’re all in or no one’s in.

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