Selective Service: A Feminist Perspective – Written February 15, 2001

Jodie Foster once said, “Ninety-five percent of women’s experiences are about being a victim. Or about an underdog, or having to survive…women didn’t go to Vietnam and blow things up.” Perhaps that is because women are not only not required to register for Selective Service, but they are also not allowed to register. Selective Service is a very hypocritical institution that treats male citizens of the United States of America unfairly. If women are supposed to be equal, reform in Selective Service registration must happen to ensure that women have the rights and responsibilities that are equal to that of a man’s.

For more than 100 years women have advocated having equal rights of men. In the year 1919, women received the Constitutional right to vote. As time continued, they became protected by affirmative action. Today, women make up 52% of the American population and are still treated as a minority. Is this fair? Is it equality? This is just one of the many hypocrisies dealing with women’s rights.

Selective Service is the anti-thesis of what women worked for in the feminist movement. The feminist moment is centered on the inequalities of women and a goal to right them. I believe in this movement, and I support it! Women should be completely equal to men, and should therefore be required to do what men are required to do. Until women are required to register for selective service, they will not be truly free or equal to men.

Many arguments exist from hypocritical liberal feminists that try to twist the laws to suit their needs. They claim that women are just as good as men. In fact, Anne Heche said, “Anything boys can do, girls can do better.” Though I do not agree with this statement, I do believe that men have qualities that women do not have, and women have qualities that men do not have. Men are more analytical, logical, protective, and physical. Women are more compassionate, caring, kind, and loving.

Many people say that women should be allowed on the front line. Many say that they should be forced on the front the same as men. I am not one of those people. I think that due to different characteristics of men and women, women have no place in combat alongside men: they would be a distraction and a hazard. However, women could be very useful as nurses or office workers. Why not take the men already serving in to offices and replace them with women? They joined the military by choice; they should fight before anyone else!


I notice a lot of people reading this blog, probably because you have some teacher/professor asking you to get into feminism as it relates to selective service.  This probably isn’t a paper you want to be using for reference.  Understand that I had just turned 18 when I wrote this (my birthday is February 1), and I wasn’t very happy about being forced to register for selective service, lest my future as a citizen be put in jeopardy.  Seriously; I used the word “anti-thesis” because that’s how I said the word – I didn’t know it was “ant-ithisis.”  That’s the perspective you get in this whole thing – young and dumb.

That having been said, to this day, I believe selective service is ridiculous, in general; I especially believe that it’s sexist to only make men register for it.  Now, the reality is, we’ll never have a draft again.  Our modern military is run more efficiently by less people than ever before, and we just don’t fight wars with as many boots on the ground, anymore.  We also tend to forcibly make troops extend their service, but that’s all for another topic and another day.

Suffice it to say that you should understand the concept of feminism and sexism before you dig into this subject.  I wrote something in 2004 that might help give some perspective on it.  Take a look at it; I hope it helps.  With the advent of allowing women to do anything in the military, including serve on submarines, I think the concept of selective service registration is bound to disappear.  However, it’s unlikely that it will disappear until there is another draft, because until then, it’s just another annoying piece of paperwork you have to fill out.  I don’t even know where my draft card is.  I’m going to be 30 in a few months – it’s a non-issue for anyone over 24.  We could have WWIII tomorrow, and I’d never get drafted.

But, here’s a little something for you.  On my 18th birthday, I got a razor in the mail from Gillette.  Pretty cool thing for them to do, I think, and a lot of us have been customers of theirs for live because of it.  The thing is, lots of us need razors before we are 18, even if it’s just to get rid of that upper-lip fuzz (seriously, high school kids, get that crap off your lip).  But lots of us don’t own a razor until Gillette is nice enough to just give us one.  It’s not a requirement – we can steal our father’s every few weeks for a fast once-over.

Or steal our mother’s/sister’s.  Women shave, too, and they go through way more razors than we men do – legs have way more surface area than faces do.  So where’s their razor, Gillette?  Chances are, they bought their first one when they became a teenager.  Give them something!  A coupon for a pack of blades of their choice.  Something!!!  What’s the matter with you?  Sexist pigs…

7 thoughts on “Selective Service: A Feminist Perspective – Written February 15, 2001

  1. While I agree that the equal rights issues you addressed need to be reevaluated, the statement made about how “men are more analytical, logical, protective, and physical [and] women are more compassionate, caring, kind, and loving” is a gross generalization as far as what men and women are and are capable of. With that kind of rhetoric, we’re just sharpening – perpetuating – gender stereotypes and biases that already riddle the subconscious assumptions made by society. “Compassionate, caring, kind, and loving.” Sure, those aren’t bad qualities to have. But the fact that you’re implementing an almost kind of dichotomy between women and men on those traits nearly implies we ought to resign women to domestic responsibilities. Are we also to assume, then, that men can’t be as “compassionate, caring, kind, and loving”? That’s the already destructive kind of should-be-outdated idea that society forces down our throats – men should be masculine and tough, women should be caring and motherly – which really does nothing but, again, forces gender roles and sets the frame for some potentially disgusting double standards. But that aside, I have three other problems with your argument:

    1. “Women have no place in combat alongside men.” What does this imply about the women who currently serve in the military?… “When ambushes and suicide bombs strike anywhere, anytime, with no traditional front line, the idea of keeping women away from combat zones fast becomes meaningless. As research for her book When Janey Comes Marching Home, [Laura] Browder spoke to 52 military women and found their tasks included such indisputable combat roles as acting as gunners on convoys and ordering attack. Several had come under mortar fire or suffered roadside bombings.”( So where do women belong? In the kitchen? So women should have the same rights and responsibilities as men, but we can’t give them the same rights as men because they’re not fit for it?

    2. Your argument puts a double standard on women. Oh, hypocrites want equal rights but don’t want to register for selective service. Oh, but they wouldn’t be good “in combat,” so let’s just restrict them to nursing and office work. Oh wait, what was that? You’re stepping on your own foot. Women should be equal to men and men should be equal to women, but hey, women aren’t good enough? You claim to advocate equality between men and women, but suggesting that women aren’t good enough – that we should just restrict them to office jobs and nursing – is really just letting stereotypes get in the way of our perceiving men and women as true equals.

    3. You criticize “hypocritical liberal feminists who try to twist the laws to suit their needs.” To which laws, exactly, are you referring? And how are they “twisting” the law? Maybe I’m missing something in your argument, but I don’t exactly understand how advocacy of free will and autonomy equals “twisting the laws to suit their needs.” I really don’t understand what you mean by that. (“Women make up 52% of the American population and are still treated as a minority.” Well, gee, I wonder why they’re not happy with the status quo.) And no one ever said that women are opposed to signing up with the selective service. But exactly like you said, “they are also not allowed to register.” So, again, how does that make them hypocritical?

    So, given that, I agree that we need to reevaluate what exactly “equal” is and what the issue implies and its relevance to the SSS. But I strongly disagree with the standards that you impose on the gender strata. Using these callous assumptions to “reform” the system really does nothing but reinforce gender stereotypes and break down the “equality” that, early on, you claimed to advocate.

  2. Not bad. Glad I came across your piece. It made me rethink a few things. Where are you from? Looks like you’ve got a pretty interesting travel blog going on there.

    • I’m from the US but I live in Taiwan. I’ve actually got a few hotel reviews to write up that I just haven’t gotten to. Mostly trying to build up some kind of portfolio so I can have something to show a publisher to gain a real travel writing position over here. Last month I was in the Philippines and Hong Kong, and this month I’ve got to go to China, so I do what I can to get around as much as I can; traveling is one of many hobbies. Also included in my list of hobbies is, somewhat ironically, cooking, as I am currently starving for dinner but don’t want to cook anything…

  3. Interesting. Which part of the U.S. are you from? I’m also from the U.S. (west coast, California) and currently am in the U.S. I’ve always wanted to go to Taiwan or China though – mostly just to see and learn the language. Haven’t had much of an opportunity to travel far yet though – still studying in school. I’m guessing you’re multi-lingual since you get around and travel often? But that’s great. Travel writing sounds wonderful. Guessing you’ve been to quite a few amazing places too – have you got any favorites yet? But hey, cooking’s not a bad hobby to couple with traveling – you could learn some from all the cultures you’re constantly exposed to.

    • I have no idea why I never saw this…anyway. I’m from all over the USA. I once lived in the west coast (Bay Area), actually. Taiwan is a great place – you don’t need a visa and people are super friendly.

      I am not multi-lingual; I’ve just come to understand that most communication is about more than language. “A smile is the same in every language,” I always say. The key is to know how to say The Big Five in as many languages as possible:
      “I want”
      “Thank you”
      “I don’t know” / “I don’t understand”
      “I’m sorry” (you’ll be saying that one a lot)

      My personal favorite destination is the Philippines, but it’s not easy to live there, with all the poverty. 40% of the PI is malnourished, and most of that is kids. So it’s sad. Hell, statistically-speaking, 1:50 women there are prostitutes. For the most part, you see that as a pattern: poor = starving = prostitution.

      Anyway, if you want to scope out something “better” that I wrote on feminism, take a look at this (written a few years later, when I was in college)…

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