Gray Area: All mighty means all

Gray Timberlake, Editor-in-Chief

Next month I turn 18, making me a legal adult who can vote, get married, sue, enter contracts and buy property, but — unlike my classmates at Stuart Hall — I am not required to register for the Selective Service. An independent government agency, the
Selective Service registers men for potential drafts, when authorized by both Congress and the president. The Selective Service Law currently reads that “all male citizens, regardless of where they live, and male immigrants, whether
documented or undocumented, residing in the United States, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.”

The Selective Service was discontinued in 1975 by a presidential proclamation by President Gerald Ford, but President Jimmy Carter reinstated it because of fears of foreign tension and suggested that Congress amend the Act, requiring women
to register. While Congress approved reinstating the Selective Service process, the funds allocated were only sufficient to draft men.

While the inequality in the Selective Service may not be a pressing issue for feminists because of its seeming irrelevancy, it stands as one of the last legal acts separating women and men.

The National Coalition for Men, a civil rights organization that addresses how sex discrimination affects men, sued the Selective Service in 2019, claiming women being excluded from the draft was unconstitutional. The resulting report, due next month, will either make registering voluntary for both males and females, mandatory for both or eliminate the draft altogether.

While all of these potential solutions will lead to legal equality, legal equality will not lead to social equality between men and women.

First-wave feminists in the United States fought. for legal equality, especially the right to vote, in the 19th and 20th centuries. When it comes to law with higher stakes than voting — like being drafted— feminists are less likely to fight for equality.

After tension between the United States and Iran worsened in January, memes and TikToks about the so-called “World War III” went viral. Among these memes were women joking that they previously were feminists, but would go back to the constricting gender norms of pre-suffrage United States if it meant they would not have to be drafted in “World War III.”

One meme was a stock image of three pregnant women with the caption “me and my girls when we hear that women might get drafted to #ww111.” Another tweet read “*World War 3 is
announced* Feminists: Back in the kitchen.”

While meant to be comical, the memes illustrate that many feminists are willing to put in the work for issues of equality regarding the historical oppression of women’s rights. Inequality in the Selective Service does not feel oppressive to women and women are unlikely to fight for a change in the system, as women get an “out” in the case of a draft.

I do not want to register for the Selective Service and risk getting drafted, but all women, myself included, need to “man up” — even when it is inconvenient — if they want equal rights.