A recent article written by Ruth Ben-Ghiat and published by CNN is shining light on the issue of the Selective Service only requiring men to register. In the modern world of equality the question begs; why exclude women of this mandatory requirement for every American male citizen? The United States Government and the public examination of the term male when speaking of American citizens needs exploration? Some top military leaders, and politicians agree that women registering in the Selective Service illustrates fairness, and a favorable way forward, however some conservative politicians disagree[endnoteRef:1]. A quick review of the comments on various internet forums reveals the issue obviously triggers a wide ranging public opinion. Such a hot button issue strikes a chord with many, and needs detailed analysis before taking a side or giving an opinion.
Today equality is a key topic in America when deciding who works where, determining equal pay, and gender’s relevance to specific duties, especially in the Military. Ruth Ben-Ghiat stated that “If it’s (the Selective Service) reserved for men, what message does this send about gender equity?” The US military now includes women in military roles traditionally reserved for men since the inception of the nation. Nearly four years ago the US Army watched the first two female Soldiers complete its grueling US Army Ranger School. Military leaders continue working toward breaking down barriers which held long standing male only membership, and give no exception on the Selective Service debate. The Army Chief of Staff and the Marine Corps Commandant both said yes about including women in the Selective Service during a Senate hearing. As military leaders form their opinions, depending on their positions, and experiences equal rights requires close self-examination and an open narrative.
Gender obstructions continue falling, but for some conservatives the ideas of sending daughters, and mothers into combat is unthinkable. It strikes a chord with politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz, who in an interview called the idea of women registering for the selective service “nuts”. He went further to explain his specific situation of fathering two girls, and his passion and love for them. This does not negate the love of a mother for her son, or another father’s love for his daughter, but shows a unsettling contrast in the way the public, politicians, and the media view change. Senator Cruz’s passion for his daughters indeed seems sincere, but for decades the public ignored that same sentiment a mother shows for her son. Bringing this idea into perspective challenges the views of men playing one role as a citizen and women playing another.
The government, ran by mostly men in 1917, decided on the selective service requirements, and excluded women/daughters, but it’s a century later and Ruth Ben-Ghia’s article points out that the Nation’s leaders may need to reconsider the requirements. The Selective Service System remains untouched since 1980 when President Jimmy Carter reestablished the Selective Service registration for men 18-26years old as the final years of The Cold War heated up. As the country evolved and progressed, changes made to the system only left men dealing with having to register, and the consequences of not registering for the Selective Service. Men who fail to register become ineligible for Federal Student aid, loans, and Pell Grants, as well as job training, federal employment, and naturalization. Equality for women and men presents difficult challenges especially when a subject like the Selective Service system presents complicated issues that harken back to a time when decisions at the national level ignored gender equality, and relied upon a different set of moral standards than today.
Ms. Ben-Ghia’s article certainly covered most of the relative content of today’s struggles with equality in America when it comes to the selective service. It really pushes one to think objectively about the subject and implications of requiring men to register for the Selective Service with implications if they do not, but not requiring the same type of conscription for women. Many leaders answered questions on the issue and many see it as a positive thing for the Nation and a way forward for gender equality. Other leaders opted for an emotional approach, and continue making the same types of arguments that likely created the system that exists today. Changing the Selective Service System clears up one more path toward true gender equality, but requires thorough analysis on the part of disciplined civilian, political, and military leaders at all levels in order to understand all of the implications. Breaking down barriers like the massive wall of equality take time, and this example differs little from many others that fell in the past, and remains a remnant of that wall which is still being chipped away at in other areas today.
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