PATEL: Abolish military draft, strive for gender equality

The+draft+is+inactive+in+the+United+States%2C+but+18-year-old+young+men+have+to+register.+Photo+via+Flickr

The draft is inactive in the United States, but 18-year-old young men have to register. Photo via Flickr

The United States has made significant progress in addressing the inequality that women experience in America, such as granting women the right to vote and the right to an abortion. However, the possibility of a military draft still upholds gender inequality for men.

While it has been over fifty years since there was last an indication to use the draft, all males are still required by law to register for the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The same goes for immigrants, regardless of status. The penalty for not registering for a draft is five years in jail or a $250,000 fine.

Currently, approximately 17 million draft-eligible men are on file with the Selective Service System.

The first draft occurred May 18, 1917 through the Selective Service Act which require all men between the ages of 21 and 30 to enlist in World War I because there weren’t enough volunteers. However, some forms of the draft occurred before then, dating back to the American Revolution and Civil War. 

Since World War I, the draft has been used three more times, the most recent time being in 1973 during the Vietnam War. Since then, the draft has been inactive and the military has relied on volunteers. 

As the conflict continues between Ukraine and Russia, discussions of the United States entering war with Russia seem to loom across the nation. That possibility is largely unpopular among Americans and scholars, but there are still conversations about the potentiality for a draft.

Recently, the war between Russia and Ukraine has increased fears that a possible world war might emerge. Tensions rose between these countries since 2014 when Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula and have recently worsened when Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24. 

In the event of a draft, there are some exceptions, according to the Selective Service System. Any current college student has the choice not to go through with the draft if they get selected, and anyone with mental or physical disabilities is also exempt from the draft.

Abolishing the current draft would be the most progressive decision, considering that women are excluded from it and men are disproportionately impacted. Despite this solution, there have been efforts by the federal government to maintain it, but make it more gender inclusive.

Congress recently tried to change the draft making it inclusive to women, rather than make attempts to abolish it altogether. However, the charges were dropped in December 2021 due to conflicting views between the Democratic and Republican parties about whether women should be included in the draft or not.

While requiring women to also register for the draft would virtually create gender equality between men and women, the current draft requirement for men is discriminatory. Moreover, the draft should be abolished because it limits people’s ability to choose; this came to fruition in the Vietnam War draft.

In addition to largely being opposed to the war in Vietnam, people were against the draft. As many as 40,000 young men were drafted each month. Some men even fled the country Canada to avoid the draft.

By abolishing the draft, the U.S. military would have stronger units with volunteers rather than using people through force. Historically, volunteers for the military are older and more educated than young men who are picked from the draft.

In the end, people will still have their voice if the draft is eliminated completely. Abolishing the draft will enhance our countries ideals of freedom. When it comes to the potentiality of war, in the near or far future, it’s important that everyone is valued equally and even more importantly, everyone is there by choice.

Alexandra Garner contributed to this story. 

This story was written by Krisha Patel. She can be reached at krisha.patel@marquette.edu