I come to the concept of women's liberation the hard way or the easy way (I can't figure which) by virtue of having been preceded by exactly 25 minutes into this world by a sister. I am, alas and alack, a twin. It teaches you a few things.

It taught me right off the bat that a lot of what I was hearing about girls and, in due time, women, ws pure rot. Their alleged infirmities, weaknesses, strange ways of thinking, moods, hormonal imbalances and eruptions were things I did not witness in this person who was almost identically my age and who, if truth be told, could hit a softball farther than I (although she could not field worth a damn) -- any maybe still can.

Nevertheless, society very early on separated us according to our respective sexes. She went off, for instance, to cooking class, where she learned (I swear) to make toast, and I was dispatched to shop, where I learned to make a lamp in the form of a water pump. I also learned that these were arbitrary decisions, having nothing to do with talent or inclination. It was simple: girls cooked and boys made things out of wood.

It seems that precisely this sort of thinking has overcome the six gentlemen of the Supreme Court who think that it is not unconstitutional for Congress to compel men, but not women, to register for the draft. The court found, in other words, that Congress was within its rights in limiting draft registration to men, inasmuch as the Army does not allow women into combat roles and combat, as we all know, is what the Army is all about.

In fact, the Army is about a whole lot of other things -- all meant to support combat, it is true, but a lot of it having almost nothing to do with one set of troops facing another set of troops and the two sides going at it. There are trucks to be driven, supplies to be supplied, meals to be cooked, reports to be typed, intelligence to be evaluated -- and someone needs to sit next to the person who drivves around the colonel, which is what I did for a whole day and never could figure out why.

The issue is not whether men and women are the same. They are not. Men are by and large bigger and stronger and, either genetically or by training, more agressive. The issue, instead, is whether the burden for the defense of the country is going to fall equally on all citizens or whether about half the population can opt out on the basis only of sex.

Sex, after all, is the only criterion. It is not motivation or willingness or ability or anything else. It is the same basis upon which my sister was marched off to cooking class. It does not take into account the Army's ability to differentiate on the basis of sex by simply giving sevicewomen assignments that keep them out of combat.

This is something the Army does now. It has thousands of women doing innumberable jobs, and while assimilating large numbers of young women into the Army presents problems, they are not insurmountable and the Army, by and large, continues to function. Just why, for instance, a man and not a woman can press the button by which a missile is sent on its way is something, apparently, only a Supreme Court justice can figure out.

What this does is institutionalize the notion of the weaker sex. It makes physically weaker somehow comparable to irresponsible, to childish. It says there are things for men and things for women, and that one of the things do is defend the country. It is serious business. It is men's business. It is their obligation. What women are supposed to do, I guess, is make babies, knit things for the men who are out, defending the country and serve them doughnuts when they come home from a long day at the front.

The whole thing would be silly if we weren't talking about the matter of obligatin to one's country. To say that men have such an obligation and women do not relegates women to something less than full citizenship. It makes them the protected ones, wards of the state -- provides them with an institutionalized parasol and giggle. As long as women do not have to shoulder the same obligations as men, they will not get the same respect as men -- not from men, anyway. Now run along, ladies, and make some toast.