Touche’, Jason. I look forward to more writing from you.
I was at the state fair with my boyfriend, my sophomore year in high school. We were walking hand in hand through some livestock exhibit and I saw a folding table with a vinyl sign over it that said something about “18…Selective Service…duty…you’re a man now.”
I asked my boyfriend what that was, because I had no idea. He told me it was the military draft and kept right on walking, very casually. He knew about this. It wasn’t novel information.
I was shocked. I had thought the draft was a thing of the past. Images then immediately started racing through my head, picturing him being called off to war and being forced to die for his country. I pictured his mom and his sister. And, of course, myself watching him leave.
This all happened in a flash.
I must’ve looked horrified because he stopped me, held me close, and said, “Baby. There’s no war. There hasn’t been for a long time. I’m not going anywhere.” That was 1995. We were just 15 and 16 year old kids, but he was comforting me that his life was safe. SMDH. In my defense, I just didn’t know. But still…there’s something off there.
Six years later, 9/11 happened. I was 1500 miles away, married to a different man, and pregnant with his baby. In the weeks to follow, among all of the terror and confusion, I heard the word “draft” on the news and my mind snapped back to that conversation I had had at the fair with my boyfriend, and fear and dread poured over me. I felt equal parts indigence at the government having the right to force men to sacrifice their lives, and also shame that there was no equivalent required for me. I was also grateful, in that moment, for being born a woman.
I’m ashamed to admit my myopia. I have four daughters now and it had escaped my attention again, until this recent kerfuffle.
I agree that the government does indeed have control over men’s bodies and that women are exempted. I think the rule should either be mandated service for all or for no one. Now, there is an argument to be made about sacrifice of the individual for the greater good of society, and I’m willing to entertain that conversation, but not for only half of our citizens.
We would be well served not to forget that the draft does, in fact, exist, especially when we are engaging in these discussions of bodily autonomy.