Is equality in the military really a political possibility?
When civil rights leaders asked John Kennedy to prioritize civil rights, he answered, "Make it politically possible." Although no laws can be more unconstitutional than male-only draft registration and combat requirements, both are living proof that the unconstitutionality of a law is not enough to change it if the political climate does not support that change.
What is the forecast for tomorrow’s political climate (for equality of responsibility)? Partly sunny, partly cloudy. The sunny part: 75 percent of
men and 69 percent of women already favor drafting both sexes (if anyone has to be drafted) 90 The cloudy part: 57 percent of draft-age women said they would be unwilling to serve if drafted, versus only 24 percent of draft – age men.97 And as for requiring combat roles for women, only 12 percent of men and 9 percent of women are in favor.98 In brief, neither sex is in favor of real equality; women are less in favor than men; about 7 million more women than men vote in each presidential election.99
None of this will change until we confront anti-male sexism just as we confronted anti-Semitism. We call the annihilation of the jews a "holocaust," but the annihilation of men a "battle." When Jews were slaughtered, we were horrified; when men are slaughtered, the battle is glorified. Hitler called Jewish death camp» "work camps." We call male-only draft registration "male power." The Germans who smelled the flesh from the nearby ovens and chose to buy the explanation of "work camps’" are now judged just as guilty as those who ran the ovens. Are the voters who support male – only draft registration and buy the explanation of "male power" just as guilty as those who make the laws to register only men? Yes. The voters elect the lawmakers.
In brief, attitudes create politics and politics precedes equality. The biggest hope comes with asking parents whether they want their sons to be more disposable than their daughters. . with asking sons to value their own lives equally to their girlfriends’ . . with helping draft-age women understand the connection not only between responsibilities and rights but between responsibilities and respect. . . with helping draft-age women think of whether they want to bring up their own sons with the feeling that merely because they are boys they have to be prepared to kill. . . with helping everyone understand it is time now for an evolutionary shift that we all have an opportunity to pioneer.
Political shifts come from reframing the fundamentals: by demanding, for example, that whatever killing both sexes vote for, both sexes do; by explaining why we will never get rid of the "innocent woman/guilty man" if we keep women innocent and keep men killing; by understanding that men will continue to be perpetrators of violence as long as we give men unequal responsibility for violence.
What can each of us do while we are waiting for this paradigm shift to occur – while twenty-seven men are still being killed for each woman? We can express our appreciation. Kay Schwartz and her son chose something very simple.
On the tenth anniversary of the end of the war, my son made a banner on the computer, which we put across the front of the garage. The banner said "Vietnam – ten years – We Remember. To Those Who Died – Thank You. To Those Who Returned – Welcome I lome."… I
was sitting on the front porch having coffee and a young man came by delivering telephone books. He went up to the garage and read the banner. He came over to my porch and put the telephone books down, and stood there crying.
He said, ‘Lady, I love your sign."
I started crying and said, “I’m sorry It’s ten years late."
We were both crying and then he said, "Lady, it’s never too late "
Kay Schwartz, Addison, Illinois’00