The U.S. Marines will remove the word “man” from 19 job titles to create gender neutral positions. The move is the result of a mandatory review required by the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
It is reported that 15 of the 19 jobs will see the word “man” replaced with “Marine.” The other four titles will include other words like “chief.”
The list of changes is reported to include the following.
- Basic infantry Marine
- Light-armor vehicle Marine
- Infantry assault marine
- Riverine assault craft Marine
- Reconnaissance Marine
- Basic field artillery Marine
- Basic tank and assault amphibious vehicle marine
- Armor Marine
- Basic engineer, construction and equipment Marine
- Field artillery sensor support Marine
- Amphibious combat vehicle Marine
- Fire support Marine
- Amphibious assault vehicle Marine
Marine Corps leadership is leading a push to keep “man” in some of the existing names that are important to the ethos of the group. Leadership reported that titles like “rifleman” will remain the same, particularly after suggestions to make it gender neutral sparked indignation among members of the armed forces.
It is also reported that titles, like manpower officer, that do not use “man” to describe the Marine in question will remain the same.
Still, the announcement sparked criticism online from both enlisted Marines and the general public. The most common criticism of the changes is that the changes are political correctness gone rogue.
Yet, the job change titles are a part of wider changes in the Marine Corps. These changes designed emphasize equal opportunity for jobs in general.
First, there was the landmark announcement from the United States Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in 2013. Carter ordered that certain combat jobs previously reserved for men must be opened to every member of the military.
The Secretary of Defense made the announcement despite the fact that a survey of 54,000 Marine Corps members that found that one third of all women and two thirds of all men in the Marines opposed opening combat roles to women. The general results of the survey suggested that there remains a deep divide on the issue for both men and women.
In response, the Marines included a new training regime for combat roles. The changes include changes to the foundation of basic physical requirements for men and women previously required for working in physically demanding combat jobs.
But, the issues in creating a more inclusive armed forces do not lie in job titles or orders alone. Critics say the problem is in the general attitude of the military towards women. This perceived attitude has recently come under fire and blames the Marines for failing to expect the same standards from both male and female members of the Corps, which some say limits women’s potential for success.
In 2015, Lt. Col. Kate Germano, who commanded a battalion at Parris Island and a recruiting station in San Diego, wrote a piece condemning Marine Corps culture for long-held patterns that she alleged would ensure that female recruits into the service would not be respected by their male counterparts. Lt. Col. Germano was later relieved of her position at Parris Island.
The Marines claimed the move was due to an abuse of power, but it was also interpreted as punishment for highlighting cultural procedures in the Corps.
Regardless, the Marine Corps’ own standards suggests that gender neutrality in position titles will not necessarily ensure equality in the military. As long as the Marines require an initial qualification rate of 68% for women and 85 percent for men in important areas like the rifle range, women will continue to fail to qualify for higher positions in the Marines, regardless of the job title.
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