Sunday, February 3, 2013

A step down towards equality

It continues to be my contention that when it comes to oppression of the sexes, it's us men who are the ones who are oppressed.  So it was with a mixture of amusement and sadness when I learned of the announcement that women will be allowed in combat positions in the armed forces.  As expected, such an announcement brings all of the talking heads out of the woodwork with the usual banter about upper body strength and defecating in the foxhole.  I find this debate boorish as I have little doubt that women can cope with combat as well as men.  I don't think it takes too much upper body strength to pull a trigger and given my bad back, I think a wounded "comrade" would probably have a better chance of being pulled off the battlefield by a woman than by me.  As far as a woman watching me take a poo, well, I'd prefer that nobody watches me take a poo (they probably would too), but if bullets are flying I'm thinking it probably wouldn't matter too much whether the observer was a male or a female.

In the midst of the buzz, my wife remarked as to what this would mean in regards to Selective Service.  Initially, I hadn't given this much thought as it would seem to me opening up combat jobs to women (voluntarily) did not mean the same as compulsory service in a combat role.  However, I was soon surprised to read that many others shared my wife's query in regards to this emerging change.  Many of the blog buzz that I read in regards to this question seemed to point as though it was a forgone conclusion that leveling the field for combat would necessitate the need to also treat women equally in regards to Selective Service.

I think it sad that we need to compel humans to kill other humans.  Apparently this has been acceptable for quite some time for the males of the species.  The current generation has become desensitized to the issue of the "Selective Service" because there is not a formal draft.  (Although, based on personal experience, I will note that the "economic draft" is alive and well and the poor and those lacking the glow of opportunities continue as fodder for the military machine).  America does not have the stomach for a long term draft particularly in view of our track record of the conflicts that we choose to engage in.  It is hard to feel freedom to be at stake when the country chooses war for the sake of ideology - contain communism? what's socialism?  and who's Al-Qaeda?  Perhaps all are nebulous enemies enlarged by fanatics who lead us from the rear.  Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan; many dead, not much changed.

And so now as I turn to the prospect of drafting women it is with sadness that I acknowledge that the definition of equality is more aligned to "sameness" and less to do with "progress."  I suspect ridding all from the blight of Selective Service would be progress; lowering women to the level that afflicts men is taking a step down towards equality.

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