Women and the draft: Feminist Friday discusses the draft’s connection to gender


Loretta McGraw/ Iowa State Daily

Amy Rutenberg, assistant professor of history, led this week’s highly conversational Feminist Friday discussion on registration and drafts and where the women’s place in this matter currently lies.

Loretta Mcgraw

Editor’s Note: Some information throughout this article was originally factually wrong and edits have been made. The Iowa State Daily regrets this error.

Amy Rutenberg, assistant professor of history, led this week’s Feminist Friday discussion on registration, draft and where the women’s place in this matter currently lies.

Registration has long since been implemented as a routine in American culture. When a male turns the age of 18 there is a legal requirement to enter one’s information and keep it updated should a draft ever occur. Women, however, are not required to do the same.

In the summer of 2016, this male-only draft almost changed as the House of Representatives voted to require women to register for the draft, but this progression was faltered when the Senate debated it, leaving it up in the air.

The election in 2016 caused a stir in this area, concerning both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican President Donald Trump. A lot of questions and concerns were raised during this election even surrounding Clinton’s belief that women too should be held to the same standard and be eligible to be drafted.

“The fight for equal participation has been fierce for every marginalized community in the United States from the very beginning,” Rutenberg said. “They have argued both civic-Republican, ideas of citizenship that they should be able to fulfill their responsibility to protect the nation and therefore earn citizenship and they’ve argued from a classically liberal point of view which is to say they have an individual right to serve equally and so do women, minority women and men and arguments from the LGBTQIA+ community have arisen from the same place.”

While there has long since been a form of role for women in the United States military forces, as far as is known and recorded, dating back to 1917, there was no true progress until the threat of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), according to Rutenberg. The ERA looked as though it would pass and, in 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that female soldiers too should be eligible for dependent benefits as males had long since been awarded.

“Every single woman so far, in terms of service has been a volunteer so if they’re choosing to do it that’s one thing, but what about the potential of a registration for the draft,” Rutenberg said. “That becomes a question in 2016 that still remains on the table with the removal of the combat ban. Should there be registration, if there is registration should women be liable to it, and what about this question of national service of which military service, for which everybody has to do a year of service whether along the lines of AmeriCorps. or something after high school.”

Next week’s Feminist Friday will occur at 1 p.m. in the Sloss House.