For too long, the women of this nation have been complacent while our brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers are sent to kill, maim, brutalize, destroy and even die in defense of our alleged liberty.
But now, the Senate has passed a $602 billion defense bill that includes an amendment for drafting women. If this bill were in effect today, I would be fined a quarter of a million dollars and face five years in prison for writing these words:
Women: do not register for the draft.
No one – man or woman – should register, or be required to register, for the draft. The draft should be completely eliminated. The military should be dismantled. War should be abolished. The bloated war budget should be returned to our children and students. The military industrial complex should be evicted from our politics and war profiteering should be completely and utterly outlawed.
According to the new bill, saying this and telling other women not to register for the draft is against the law, but I’ll say these words as long as I live in every way I can . . . and I’ll tell it to men, too. For too long, this nation has sat idle as horrific wars are waged in our names. Now, a Congress of the same predominantly rich, white, old men who send our brothers off to war would like the women of this country to pick up the weapons in our very own hands.
More than refuse, I will organize, not just to stop the Women’s Draft, but to abolish war in its entirety. Did Congress think that “women’s equality” meant sending us off to war? Women’s equality is peace, democracy, economic justice, racial justice, environmental sustainability, restorative justice, ending mass incarceration, providing for all children of this country, caring for our elders, affordable healthcare and housing, and debt-free student education.
Women’s equality does not – and never will – include forcing us to kill our fellow human beings in order to protect the patriarchal, oligarchic, racist, imperialistic interests of the greedy, war-profiteering few.
There is something ludicrous about the very notion of drafting me into the military. I imagine what Helen Keller (a notorious anti-war activist) might have told me: sit-down, strike, and refuse to die in the rich men’s wars. Kathy Kelly and Medea Benjamin might smile on my first day of boot camp as I engage in total noncooperation with the training and speak to my fellow women about the injustice and horror of war. What will the officers do then? Throw me in prison, where, like peace activists and all organizers, I might organize work strikes and refuse to build the infrastructure of war? Would they put me in solitary confinement like Chelsea Manning for speaking truth to power? Would they torture me as they do to the illegally and unfairly held men at Guantanamo? Would they rape me like they already do to one third of my sisters in the military?
Undoubtedly, our congresspersons were not thinking of me when they introduced the women’s draft bill. Perhaps they were thinking of my blonde cousins – some of who are military wives – marching teary-eyed as they go off to kill children that do not look so different than the ones they leave behind. Perhaps they imagined black and brown bodies dying to protect a racist nation that incarcerates, murders, and impoverishes them. Perhaps they imagined my veteran friends, and thought that women, too, should join the ranks of those haunted by the horrors of war, suffering from PTSD. Perhaps they thought of us smiling and waving as we’re trotted out for Memorial Day parades and shows of patriotism.
Certainly, they did not have Rivera Sun in mind, a five-foot-five, redheaded, nonviolent strategist with a pen sharper than a hellfire missile. If so, they would have quietly killed the women’s draft bill . . . because there is only one place the US military is drafting Rivera Sun – and that’s straight into the peace movement.
Women: do not register for the draft. Let us do what we should have done long ago. For too long, we have been complacent as our sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers were sent off to war. No more. The sleeping giant of American womenkind has awakened . . . and she wants the total Abolition of War.
Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is also the social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout, Popular Resistance, Peace Voice and Dandelion Salad. www.riverasun.com
from the archives: