Drafts defy bodily autonomy

Photo by Caroline Betz Student Publications

With global tensions rising and concern for an eruption of global military conflict escalating among many communities, Congress has been discussing a bill that requires  young women to also register for the Selective Service, often just called the draft. 

This is contrary to the former rule, which historically just drafted young men. At face value, this proposed change appears in the spirit of equality based on sex, the basic tenet of the feminist movement. 

The very concept of the draft, however, goes directly against one of the core values of the feminist movement: bodily autonomy.

The promotion of the idea that women ought to also be eligible for the draft is based solely on the premise of pure equality and overlooks the broader discussion that needs to take place about whether anyone should be drafted. When considering the question from a feminist lens, the answer is that no one should be drafted, as it violates the crucial feminist value of bodily autonomy. 

The very concept of a military draft goes against this value because it forces designated groups of people to enter their names into a hat to see whose future will now hang in the balance of political leaders who see them as no more than disposable pawns. 

While it is inequitable to require that young men register for the draft but not have young women do so, the outcome that aligns best with the values of the feminist movement would be to abolish the draft entirely. 

To do so would be to honor the right of every American to bodily autonomy by respecting their right to elect whether or not to fight in a hypothetical war rather than conscripting them.

Although the concept of bodily autonomy sounds like it only refers to the physical choices regarding one’s body, such as whether or not to become an organ donor, it also refers to the right to decide the direction of one’s own  life. 

Modern political discussions typically center discussions of bodily autonomy around issues such as abortion or consent. 

However, the right to make decisions about one’s own life and body is one that feminists have been fighting for since the beginning of the movement. From fighting for women’s suffrage to their right to be the singular holder of a credit card or bank account, the feminist movement has spearheaded initiatives whose goals are to promote the rights of each person to make meaningful decisions for their future. 

At the center of these movements is the core idea that every person deserves the right to control their own body.

Similarly, the discussion of who is drafted is about who deserves bodily autonomy. 

Current policies suggest that young men are the only people who lack the right to be unforced to sacrifice their
lives for the cause of a war. 

Meanwhile, forcing young women to also register for the Selective Service would suggest that this is a right they are also not entitled to. 

Neither of these options promote equality or bodily autonomy for all Americans. 

The ideal outcome would be a policy that advances both of these critical values by allowing all American adults the equal right to their own bodily autonomy. 

This could only be done through abolishing the draft and Selective Service requirements for all, men and women alike. 

Every person deserves the right to determine their future and whether or not they want to serve in their country’s military, regardless of what gender they identify with.