“I have spent my entire adult life making sure women are empowered to make their own choices,” Hillary Clinton said during Thursday night’s democratic debate. “Even if that choice is not to vote for me.” Clinton—former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State—is credited for paving the way for young women both entering the workforce and not.
Throughout her presidential campaign, Clinton has voiced her goals to close the gender pay gap, protect women’s health and reproductive rights, and to enhance Social Security amongst widowed and divorced females. With this equality comes sacrifice. Now, the first woman ever to near candidacy is keeping quiet about equality in the military.
In December 2015, the military opened all combat positions to women and also lifted gender-based restrictions. Following this change, Senator John McCain and Armed Services Committee Chairman, Representative Mac Thornberry, gave Congress a 30-day window to review the decision and make adjustments as needed. Today, the Selective Service remains open only to men.
According to The New York Times, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert B. Neller, said at a Senate hearing, “Every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft.” The Army chief of staff agreed.
Less than 24 hours after that hearing, in a CNN town hall hosted by Anderson Cooper, Clinton was asked to comment on the matter. She said, “I have to think about whether I think it’s necessary to go as far as our military officers are recommending.” She said, “The all-volunteer military has worked.”
The military is recognized to be one of the most sexist organizations in history for reasons that can be both understood and also shamed. According to the US Department of Defense, more than 201,000 women actively serve in the US Military—15% of the 1.5 million enlisted.
*Kerry Daniels (18), a freshman at Rutgers University, recently enlisted in the school’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program. Regarding a female-inclusive draft, Daniels agreed that women must register for the Selective Service at 18 just as men do—under one condition. “I don’t think women should go into combat,” she said. “It is not appropriate or safe for women to have combat roles.”
Men within the special operations unit have similar opinions and oppose fighting alongside females.
Rand Corporation surveyed more than 7,000 men in special ops, according to The Associated Press, and found that current enlists fear this could “hurt their effectiveness and lower the standards.” Furthermore, most men do not believe women have the mental or physical strength to enter the rigorous field.
Republican presidential candidates were also asked to comment on a female-inclusive draft during a February 6 Republican debate. Some conservatives—members of the allegedly non-progressive and misogynistic party—disagreed with Ms. Clinton’s indecision.
Both Jeb Bush and Chris Christie said that women should be included in the draft if one were issued. “The draft’s not going to be reinstituted,” Bush said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, father of two daughters and two sons, said, “There’s no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against for registering for the Selective Service.”
Ted Cruz disagrees with Bush and Christie, “I’m the father of two little girls,” he said Sunday following the debate. “They are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”
In the 2007 presidential election, Clinton took a stance on drafting women, “I do think that women should register. It is fair to call upon every young American.” At that time, Clinton was also opposed to reinstituting a draft and still is today, though now seemingly uneasy about opening the Selective Service.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that more female voters under the age of 45 support Bernie Sanders and not Clinton. The numbers: 64 percent of young female voters are for Sanders, while 35 percent are for Clinton.
Regardless of whether or not current enlists are in support of drafting women, military chiefs and generals have finally welcomed the idea. Ms. Clinton should take advantage of this giant leap towards equality. Whether she takes baby steps, such as choosing to draft women for specific roles, or the whole cake, such as drafting women for combat, this acceptance is the product of her efforts.
*Kerry Daniels’ name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.