In a classroom full of 17-year-olds, these kinds of questions are guaranteed to have students sitting up a little straighter and listening a little more attentively. Gender issues always spark interesting discussions, and none more impassioned students than the prospect of drafting women into the Army.
What was once unthinkable has become a serious subject of discussion. To many, it is a disturbing thought that runs counter to sacred notions of womanhood. But to a growing number, it is a welcome and tangible sign that true gender equality has taken a stride forward.
Here are some of the comments I get from the boys in my classes, who are presently required to register for the draft after they turn 18. The most common one goes something like this:
“If women want so badly to be equal to men, then let them be equal in all ways, including being inducted into the military.”
Other young men, however, fall back on old stereotypes and use some pretty fuzzy logic.
“If we started drafting women, morale would suffer.”
“Women don’t have what it takes to be a soldier.”
“Women aren’t aggressive enough — they lack the ‘killer instinct.’”
“Women aren’t strong enough.”
“Women would distract the men. They’d be thinking about sex when they should be thinking about combat.”
“Women would constantly need to be saved by men, and that would put everybody in danger.”
“Women would be useless in battle when it’s that certain time of month.”
And there is always the super macho young men who believe that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant and leave men’s work to the men, which of course manages to provoke the young feminists in class.