I went to see Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln last night, and what an amazing experience! If Daniel Day-Lewis does not win the Oscar for his performance, the Oscars are a crock of shit. He was utterly, magnificently perfect as the man who led a lost, warring nation back to the roots of their country by insisting that liberty is the province of all, and not just the elite few.
The movie is essentially a procedural drama, but no less interesting for that. Most of it concerns the wrangling and vote-buying that was necessary to pass the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, and was instrumental to ending the civil war that had gripped the nation and soaked it in blood for four long years, costing hundreds of thousands of lives.
It’s also a story about Lincoln as a man. A husband, a father, a friend. And naturally, those are the parts that I found most interesting. Lincoln’s wife, Mary, is a bit of a fragile thing, still broken with grief from losing their son Willy to illness. At one point, Mary pulls out the whole “you can never understand a mother’s grief” card, and Lincoln responds:
I couldn’t tolerate you grieving so for Willie because I couldn’t permit it in myself, though I wanted to, Mary. I wanted to crawl under the earth, into the vault with his coffin. I still do. Every day I do. Don’t speak to me about grief.
Shortly thereafter, the debate over slavery rages in the legislature: if slavery is abolished, what happens next? Will black people be enfranchised? Will they get the vote? Then what? Will women get the vote, too?
The house goes nuts at the suggestion. How ridiculous! Women voting? Unthinkable!
Watching these scenes, my mind leapt to the recent debate over women in the military.
Should women be in combat? Should they be subject to the draft? Should there be strict gender equality when it comes to defending liberty? Because that’s the deal men made with one another, isn’t it? When they agreed to live together in a country governed by the people, for the people, the deal was this: You have liberty, but if and when that liberty is threatened, you are required to put your life at stake to defend it. Liberty is to be defended, ironically, by refusing liberty. As in many other countries, young American men are required, by law, and with great penalty for refusing, to declare themselves to the government, and to join a lottery that, when activated, can call upon them to die for their country in battle.
They have no choice. Men’s citizenship comes with responsibilities and obligations, including the obligation to die.
Countless thousands of men HAVE died. In order for liberty to be preserved, their liberty was denied, and their lives were sacrificed.
Women’s citizenship has no such obligation. When women were enfranchised, they gained all the privileges of full citizenship, but none of the responsibility or obligation, and certainly not the obligation to die defending their rights.
This is pretty tricky, sticky territory, but I believe that women should NOT be subjected to the draft. I do NOT believe women should be in combat positions, or in any high ranking-positions in the military at all. I do NOT believe that women’s citizenship obligations should be identical to men’s.
Here are my reasons:
First of all, lady soldiers are simply not up to it. Gender equality on paper is one thing and biology is quite another. Women are not strong enough to be soldiers, end of story. All the ladies who screamed blue murder to be allowed to take elite military training?
Washed out! FAIL! And these are the BEST women soldiers we have! The BEST cannot do it.
Men are required to offer their lives in defense of their country. As a society, we are obliged to provide them with the best training and equipment and weaponry that we can. Sending them into dangerous situations with fellow soldiers who cannot protect them or help them or stand by them as equals is sentencing them to certain death.
It is men who will pay when women are in combat. We are already asking them to sacrifice their lives. The ideology they are asked to defend is LIBERTY, not EQUALITY. Because we are not all equal.
Back to Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones plays a hard-core, completely uncompromising abolitionist who argues for total racial equality. This does not go down well with his fellow legislators. In order to pass the 13th Amendment, Jones MUST compromise. He does so by noting that the notion of strict equality is ludicrous. There are measurable, observable differences between everyone. Some people have gifts that others do not possess. Some people have slime in their veins instead of hot, red blood (movie quote), but each and every one of us deserves to be seen as equal under the law.
And that’s true. But being equal under the law does not mean identical. Men’s citizenship comes with an obligation that women’s DOES not. But that is not the same as saying that women have no obligations. Theirs are different.
In 1885, women’s obligations to the state were unavoidable. They produced the next generation. Men were responsible for upholding and even dying for the state, and women were responsible for producing the men.
The whole idea behind the draft is that men are disposable in a way that women are not. It’s a simple breeding reality. 100 men and 1 woman, and your society is done. 100 women and 1 men, and life goes on. Women are smaller and weaker and more reproductively valuable than men. Put all those things together and it should be obvious that sacrificing an entire generation of women in battle is an insane thing to even contemplate.
Are you in a rage yet? You should be. It’s an ugly reality, and one that CAN be mitigated against. Claiming that women are more valuable than men REPRODUCTIVELY and need to be protected is not the same thing as claiming that they are WORTHY of that protection. And that, in my opinion, is the real issue.
Women broke the social contract. Men sacrificed their lives so that women could bear and raise children in a free society. Young men were sacrificed so that the entire society could continue to exist. Men were obligated to make that sacrifice, and still are. But women have now removed all their obligations as citizens by refusing to bear the next generation. Birth rates across the developed, western, feminized world are well below replacement, and the more that women are permitted to claim all the advantages of citizenship, with none of the responsibilities, the lower the rates decline.
And the solution to that is to start enforcing the obligation to DIE uniformly? Does anyone not see what a disaster that is? Who will replace the men and women who die? Where are those people supposed to come from?
Obviously, this all hypothetical. We are not going to face a murderous land war like WWII again. Highly unlikely. And call me a cynical bitch, but I think THAT is why women are now eager to play a role in combat. Because they will gain all the privileges, and again, avoid all the obligations.
I call bullshit. No woman should be in combat, and no military commander should be able to order anyone to face what he himself has not faced. That is the reason operational experience is an absolute requirement of command. If there are no women in combat positions, then no woman will gain the operational experience to achieve command, and no woman will be authorized to order others to their deaths.
Let’s go back to Mary Todd Lincoln. I really didn’t like her much, except for this one scene:
Mary Todd Lincoln: You think I’m ignorant of what you’re up to because you haven’t discussed this scheme with me as you ought to have done. When have I ever been so easily bamboozled? I believe you when you insist that amending the constitution and abolishing slavery will end this war. And since you are sending my son into the war, woe unto you if you fail to pass the amendment.
Abraham Lincoln: Seward doesn’t want me leaving big muddy footprints all over town.
Mary Todd Lincoln: No one ever lived who knows better than you the proper placement of footfalls on treacherous paths. Seward can’t do it. You must. Because if you fail to acquire the necessary votes, woe unto you, sir. You will answer to me.
Mary is frantically worried that their eldest son, Robert, will be lost in the war. She has met her obligations to the state by producing children, and her sacrifice will be to bear their loss. THAT is the obligation women have to guard their citizenship. Men are required to die, and mothers are required to abide the death of their children.
Should women be obliged to bear children? You know what? I think they should. Citizenship comes with obligations. Men who refuse the draft will face a lifetime of social ostracism, a huge financial penalty and a long stretch in jail. Women who refuse to have children should face similar consequences. Both should have the right to refuse their obligations, and both should pay dearly for that.
Women who refuse to have children? Yeah, they should be subject to the draft. Send them out first and dig the trench deep. Let them taste equality. I have a feeling it will taste a little bitter.
Lots of love,