radical is the new sensible . . .

The Sleeping Giantess: My Statement Opposing the Expansion of the Military Draft

On Nov 13th, 2019, I delivered a statement to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service opposing the expansion of the draft to women, and demanding the ending of the draft for all genders. The NCMNPS is a court-ordered, Congress-appointed commission charged with finding out if the US public would support expanding the military draft to women. Along the way, someone (probably a public relations firm?) thought it would be more appealing to take a broader look at “service”. I was asked to testify to the Commission on behalf of CODEPINK, and to articulate an anti-war feminist point of view for the Commissioners. Below is the text and a video I made later of my 3-min opening statement. I was speaking alongside several other anti-draft, anti-war groups who also spoke powerfully and articulately for three things:

Abolish the draft for all genders.
End all sanctions for past failures to register for the draft.
Do not implement any form of involuntary “service”.

If you wish to submit a public comment to the Commission on this subject, they are accepting comments until Dec 31st, 2019. Here is where to do so.

My Statement to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service:

CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism. We strongly oppose expanding draft registration to women, and strongly support ending draft registration for all gender, as well as ending all penalties for past failures to register.

We also oppose what’s commonly known as the “poverty” draft. We believe that no one should have to join the military to get access to college education or skills training for decent jobs; that this looks strangely like indentured servitude. This also relates to the Commission’s broader focus on so-called “service”, including mandatory national service for all youth. While we support jobs programs such as the Green New Deal, we do not support non-voluntary and/or unpaid/underpaid work. We have words for such things: slavery and exploitation among them. 

For context, CODEPINK is part of the long and robust history of anti-war feminism. Women have long opposed both war’s very existence and being involved in it, both personally and collectively. In our view, women’s equality cannot be achieved by including women in a draft system that forces civilians against their will to participate in activities (such as war) that harm others in such large numbers.  

While we demand equal pay and opportunity for women in all areas of our economy, we believe it is irresponsible for the fight for women’s rights to support a draft that would impose equal levles of moral injury, PTSD, brain injury, suicide rates, lost limbs, and so forth upon women against their will. This is not the sort of equality that we seek. When it comes to the military, we believe that women’s equality and, indeed, gender equality is better served by simply ending draft registration for everyone.

In regards to “national security” and “defense”, antiwar feminists have long held a different approach to such matters. Around the world, women are at the forefront of ensuring peace with the pragmatic and effective tools rooted in frameworks of peace, nonviolence, anti-militarism, anti-imperialism. These include, but are not limited to: diplomacy, peacebuilding, civilian based defense, civil resistance, unarmed peacekeeping, citizen-led peace efforts, and more. True women’s equality does not involve forcing us to fight wars launched by systems inherited through centuries of injustice, including patriarchy, but rather including us at the table in designing and integrating a whole different system of “security”.

There will be resistance to an expanded draft. You should expect it. If  draft registration is expanded to women, groups including Code Pink will be part of organized resistance both at the point of draft registration and if a draft is actively enacted. You should also know that we will use this opportunity to resist not only drafting women, but also drafting people any gender. We will also resist the war in question and war and militarism in general.

Ultimately, our message is this: we all know the parable about letting sleeping giants lie … but the untold story is the sleeping giantess. You do not want to awaken her by expanding this draft. Rather, this Commission and Congress should join her in her dream in ending the draft for all genders and ending all sanctions upon non-registrants.

If you wish to submit a public comment to the Commission on this subject, they are accepting comments until Dec 31st, 2019. Here is where to do so.

Curious what my fellow anti-war, anti-draft speakers said? Here are some of their submitted written statements. (Read them. They’re brilliant.)

Center on Conscience and War


Courage to Resist

Edward Hasbrouck (Resisters.info)

Faith-Based Organizations

International Peace Research Association

National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy

National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force


Truth in Recruitment

The War Resister League

World Beyond War


  1. Skipper Hammond Skipper Hammond
    November 14, 2019    

    Good strong statement. Thanks for your representation.

  2. Richard P Woida Richard P Woida
    December 2, 2019    

    I agree that ending the draft for all genders is the eventual direct that Congress should support. It is paramount that the power of the people should be used to prevent the drafting of women into the military. Iv’e been a resister to war since the Vietnam war and will continue to resist until my dying day. By recently reading a Rebels Song I believe I have found a kindred spirit in u Rivera

  3. Martin Dahlborg Martin Dahlborg
    December 29, 2019    

    Thank you for the reminder to voice my opinion.

    I just posted the following to https://inspire2serve.gov/publiccomments

    1. Does service have inherent value? If so, what is it?
    Service to others have inherent value when and if it creates connection, and increases dignity. Service also adds value when it creates a greater understanding of the reality and root causes of another’s strife.

    2. How does the U.S. increase the desire for Americans, particularly young Americans, to serve?
    Give them opportunities to serve in ways that nurture dignity.

    3. What are the barriers to participation in military, national or public service?
    A) The barriers to participating in Military Service: The truth that war is damaging and unproductive is starting to penetrate the public mind. The majority wants other solutions to conflicts. The suffering it causes on both sides is becoming unbearable.
    B) The barriers to participating in National and Public Service: The divisive rhetoric in politics for the last 20 years. Republican vote-seeking politicians have pandered to the extreme right to get votes, and they have done so by dragging down the political discourse to a level where ordinary people feel discomfort and even disgust. When the leaders do not seek to find common ground, why would the population at large want to serve.

    4) How can the U.S. increase participation in military, national, and public service by individuals with critical skills to address national security and other public service needs of the nation?
    A) The military: Make and publish a plan to replace the military might with a force for peace, dignity and relationship building. “Mutual Destruction as a deterrent” is no longer an effective strategy in this century. Neither is supporting foreign governments with bad human-rights records. Neither is meddling with the democratic rule of other countries. Neither is invading countries without cause.
    B) National and public service: Make and publish a plan to reduce suffering and increase dignity. Give people the tools to (re-)build their communities, based on democratic principles (not the principles of profitability).

    5. Is the military draft or draft contingency still a necessary component of U.S. national security?
    No. The last 300 years of history shows us that military power does not solve the problems of the people. War is simply nation-sized theft. Human connections prevent war. Our security does not depend on having the best protection, nor the best meddling in other countries, but it depends on not having anybody wanting to attack us. We need to repair the damage that has been done, not add more wounds.

    6. Are modifications to the selective service system needed?
    We need a non-military path to solve the global peace-puzzle, so yes, we need to modify or end the current selective service system.

    7. Is a mandatory service requirement for all Americans necessary, valuable, and feasible?
    We need a non-military path to solve the problems that fuel violent conflict, such as global warming and dictators.

    Martin Dahlborg, Nokomis FL.

1 Trackback

  1. The Sleeping Giantess: My Statement Opposing the Expansion of the Military Draft by Rivera Sun – Dandelion Salad on November 17, 2019 at 7:44 pm
  2. The Practical Nomad on November 19, 2019 at 7:30 pm

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