If Uncle Sam calls, will Jane join John in Draft?
In World War II it was "Rosie the riveter." If the United States turns again to the draft, will it be "Rosie the riflewoman"? Within the next few days President Carter is expected to announce his decision on whether women should be required to add their names to draft registration lists.
Many young American women today say they are ready to register.If Uncle Sam calls their brothers, they say, he should call them, too.
"I think women are just as capable as men," says Lori Campbell, a senior at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is ready to do service in the military -- after she finishes her degree in accounting and international business.
"What's the use of having a diploma if you don't have freedom?" she asks.
But Miss Campbell, like a lot of others, adds a condition: "The ERA is not ratified now. It should be. After it is, then I will go -- no qualms."
Young women like Lori do not even question that they will some day take part in running the country. And many agree that if the draft is reinstated, they should accept the obligation of military service along with their male friends.
The volatile issue of drafting women into the military service for the first time in US history has come one step closer with President Carter's recent decision to reactivate the Selective Service System.
The President has said he will not decide until next week whether to include women in the registration of 18-to-26-year-olds. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and Secretary of the Army Clifford L. Alexander Jr., as well as First Lady Rosalynn Carter, have come out in favor of the registration of women.
The current all-volunteer US armed forces already include about 150,000 women. A registration program for a draft, which must be approved by Congress, will not necessarily mean women (or men) will be drafted.
But the subject of registering women already is provoking intense debate. Speaker of the House Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D) of Massachusetts has said flatly that the House would not approve registration of women for the draft. He has urged the White House not to ask for it.
"As I read the Congress, I would think the registration of women wouldn't go, " he said. He added it would be an "anathema around here."
Some women do not favor the drafting of either sex. Feminist Gloria Steinem, co-editor of Ms. magazine, recently took that stand in Boston. But if the draft were begun again, she said, it should include both men and women. On the other hand, women who have opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the US Constitution now are saying "I told you so" after predicting for years that equal rights would mean drafting of women.
The Monitor found a diversity of opinions in a random sampling of young women it asked about registration and the draft.
"What's fair for men is fair for women," said Martha Weiss, a student of Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass. Her friend, Jean Riesman, also of Radcliffe, agrees and says that women who offer should be allowed combat duty if they meet the requirements.
Ann Cleveland, a sales clerk in a Boston department store, also thinks that women should be drafted along with men if the draft is reinstated, but she doesn't like the idea.
"I wouldn't go," says Miss Cleveland. "I don't know what I would do, but I would try to get out of it. I think war is morally wrong."
Susan, a stewardess from Boston, adds: "There'd be a baby boom if women were drafted."
Cher Magnuson, a senior at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore., is more concerned about the thought of war than of registering. "It's kind of scary," she says in a telephone interview. "If there was a war, could it solve anything?"
Classmate Michelle Morrell says that she feels women should be included in any draft because she believes in equal rights. "But I don't think I could ever use a gun," she adds.
Other women wonder about combat, although servicewomen currently are barred from frontline jobs.
"I have mixed feelings about the draft for women," says Susan Denise, a graduate student at Columbia University. "I'd be willing to serve in some capacity, but not on the front lines. And I would do it because I have to, not because I want to."
One 23-year-old Boston woman gives a flat "no" when asked if women should be drafted. "I think it could be more of a disaster than not," says Liza, who works for a brokerage firm. "It's not so much that I am chicken, but I don't know too many females who could handle it."
The National Organization for Women (NOW), which has fought for equality in the armed services, has come down hard against registration for males or females.
Eleanor Smeal, president of NOW, sees selective service as a "sexist" and "racist" system which has caused discrimination against the poor, minorities, and women, while lowering the quality of the military forces.
"The volunteer armed service is of higher quality than the draft, and would be even more so if it were free of discrimination against women and minorities," says a statement from the NOW president.
Some women say it would be unfair if Mr. Carter pushed for registration of women when -- from their point of view -- he has not pushed hard to secure a constitutional amendment on equality of the sexes.
Teddi Holt of Atlanta is the president of Mothers On March, Inc. (MOMS), a pro-family group that has chapters in 16 states. She says the registering of women for the selective service would be "terrible."
"If the war was on our land, i would expect mothers and children to be fighting, too," Mrs. Holt says. "But this is different. If it becomes a situation similar to World War II where men with families were drafted, women with families may be also. What would we do with the children?
"The drafting of women is an attack on the home."
Mrs. Holt maintains that women do belong in some areas of military service; but since they are physically different from men, women are not always able to handle dangerous situations.
"Any woman can shoot a gun, but in hand-to-hand combat, when the enemy is close, a woman is weaker."
She also worries that male servicemen would be too distracted with women around.
"Men would have a hard time keeping their mind on the battle, and not just sexually. There is an element of protection.I think any gentleman would have a hard time being a good warrior."
Some mothers have a hard time accepting the thought of their daughters being drafted; but they reluctantly support registration anyway.
"Of course I don't want to see our girls go to war," says Nancy Cleveland of Seattle, mother of Ann in Boston and Jenny, a student at Smith college in Northampton, Mass. "But if the Equal Rights Amendment is passed, it would be natural.
"I probably would have been horrified at the thought of a draft for women when I was a girl," adds Mrs. Cleveland. "But with women so active, and options so universal, it makes sense. If you have women in the military academies, how can you preclude them from the draft?"
At the Pentagon, Richard Danzig, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics, points out that the armed services must deal with realities:
"Suppose there is a draft, and we draft doctors. One-third of the doctors coming out of medical school are women. Are we going to exempt them?"
Janet Burns, a retired Army captain in Daytona Beach, Fla., had a 17-year-old daughter when she joined the Women's Auxiliary in 1942. The Auxiliary became a part of the Army a year later. She says that she enjoyed her service in the military, which included duty on postwar Europe, and agrees that women should be drafted along with men.
"It's no worse for a woman that it is for a man," she says. "They won't take a man who is the sole support of a family. They won't allow pregnant women or women with children under a certain age."