Navy sinks ‘Midshipmen’; no more male-specific terminology to be used

Sailors haul on a line during a refueling at sea aboard the USS William P. Lawrence guided missile destroyer Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in waters off Coronado, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The Secretary of the Navy has announced that as part of the move to integrate women into all military roles, plans are going forward to make titles and descriptions more gender-neutral.

A review of Navy titles, specifically those with the word ‘man’ in them, is already underway. According to a Fox News Report, a report detailing which titles should change is due back to Secretary Ray Mabus by April 1.

There are more than 20 Navy jobs, that have the word ‘man’ in the title.

Mike Stevens, master chief petty officer of the Navy, is reportedly putting together a working group that will “canvass the fleet, talk with sailors to hear their thoughts, and provide recommendations based on feedback.”

Some are already suggesting the change from “midshipman” to “midshipmate.” The rank dates back to the 1600s, long before the Naval Academy opened its doors in 1845. Now, that time-honored name could be on the chopping block.

Earlier this month, the Marine Corps was ordered to fully integrate women into its basic training courses and make its job titles more gender-neutral.

While many are supporting the move to drop ‘man’ from military titles — calling it “symbolic” and “impactful” — others aren’t exactly embracing the change.

Certain members of Congress are expressing their frustration over the latest news. “The United States Navy and Marine Corps have too many real enemies to defeat and deter. The Secretary of the Navy should have better things to do than adding the English language to the list,” said Senator John McCain.

KT McFarland — who served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations — called the move for change “offensive” and argued that changing titles “wipes away decades, and in some cases centuries, of tradition and belittles the current holder of that position.”

Kyleanne Hunter, a former Marine Corps pilot doesn’t agree. “When you have ‘men’ or ‘man’ attached to titles — whether its midshipman or infantryman — it creates a mental picture that that job can only be done by a man,” she said.

Hunter, who is founder of the Think Broader Foundation, added: “When you’re on the inclusive side of a tradition, it’s very hard to see the other side. Not only did I have to fight to do the actual job, in addition I had to constantly fight against the bias I didn’t belong there.”

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