Talbot: Women’s combat eligibility raises serious questions about their place in draft

I’m a girl. A woman, even. Although I had to deal with substitute teachers who insisted on reading the name “Justin” instead of Justine off the attendance roster throughout middle and high school, I do, in fact, identify as female. And so it would only make sense that I would support equal rights for women. But when it comes to women’s newly established right to engage in military combat and their potential be drafted, I’m not so enthusiastic. 

Of course, as far as most issues go, I’m all for bridging the gender gap. I want to have an equally good – or, more realistically, equally bad – shot at any given job in this abysmal job market as any man. The same goes for receiving a salary equal to my male colleagues’ if and when I land an equally demanding job. Voting in the presidential election this November was a rush.

But now, for the first time, my sex is receiving a right that I consider more of a punishment than a privilege. The Pentagon’s decision to lift the ban on women serving in combat is a huge victory for those women who wish to serve, of course, and I’m happy for them. But it is the possibility that women may now be pushed into compulsory service that concerns me. Just because women are now allowed to fight alongside men – which many have been doing for years now in Iraq and Afghanistan – does that mean they should be forced to do so should the need for a draft arise again?

Personally, I couldn’t summon the strength and courage combat requires if my life depended on it. I do not work out. I rarely eat anything high in protein. I’m not squeamish, but violence repels me. Physically, I see myself as rather fragile, and it’s how others – particularly those of the male gender – tend to see me, too. So how could someone like me ever get on the ground in the Middle East with the strength, agility and mental fortitude necessary to fight and kill fellow human beings?

I realize that by doubting myself I am playing into a whole host of sexist stereotypes. I also realize that many would consider it hypocritical to desire equality only as far as the good things in life go while refusing to shoulder any of the burdens men have typically taken up along with their considerable legal rights. But that doesn’t change the fact that I would rather flee across our border to the north than go to war for this country.

Then again, I chalk a lot of my uneasiness about war to my pacifistic tendencies. As a vegan, I don’t even think that it’s right to kill animals for food, so you can extrapolate my thoughts about killing people from there. To me, war is and always will be a tragedy, and so the “right” to fight sounds more like a license to kill. I hate the idea of anyone killing for her country just as much as I hate the idea of anyone killing for his country.

However, I know that one of the chief purposes of the military is to preserve and protect this nation, which is important – essential even. I know that the armed services represent a life-changing opportunity for countless men and women. I’m always thrilled to hear that women are closer to achieving true equality on any front, battlefront included.

Just don’t give me a gun and expect me to fight, because I’d rather be in Canada.