‘Midshipman’ may die as Navy sets gender-neutral course
By Evan Lips | January 20, 2016, 18:23 EST
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – The push to revise longtime titles and job descriptions in the name of political correctness has reached the ranks of the United States Navy, as a recent memo issued by its top official indicates it may not be long before the “man” is stripped from the traditional “midshipman” moniker.
In a memo earlier this month, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus directed commandants to provide him with plans to implement gender integration in both the enlisted ranks and in training schools, which includes the U.S. Naval Academy. Students there, both male and female, are referred to as Midshipmen, a term that dates to the 17th century and designates an officer-in-training.
Mabus refers to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s Dec. 3 memo outlining the methods various military departments will undertake to satisfy gender-neutral policies.
“This simple declaration that opens all career fields to women is, by itself, not sufficient for their full integration,” Carter wrote. But nowhere in his three-page memo does he mention changing the names of titles, such as a Hospital Corpsman, to meet those priorities. Corpsmen are often referred to as medics or docs.
Mabus, however, stated in his memo that the new gender-equality initiatives present various military branches with “an opportunity to update the position titles and descriptions themselves to demonstrate that women are included.”
“Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing ‘man’ from their titles,” Mabus wrote. He set an April 1 deadline for reports on how to handle the changes.
Last Thursday, Mabus toured the University of New Mexico and spoke at the institutions Center for Emerging Energy Technologies. Mabus’s official Twitter account indicates he spoke about the gender-integration efforts under way in the military:
— SECNAV Ray Mabus (@SECNAV) Jan. 19, 2016
t’s not the first time the military has elected to change the names of various titles and ranks, former Marine Corps pilot Kyleanne Hunter told the Capital Gazette in Annapolis in a recent interview. Hunter, who founded the Think Broader Foundation, an organization dedicated to pointing out social biases, noted that titles like ‘armormen’ are now known as ‘tankers.’
“It makes a difference to have a gender-neutral title because it doesn’t create an institutional barrier to you doing your job,” Hunter said. “Language subconsciously shapes our values and culture.”
Others, however, don’t share her enthusiasm.
…Infratryman/Infratryperson or Infratrygirl. Midshipman/Midshipman or Midshipgirl/Midshipperson? Some stupid fascist Liberal has lost….
— Wolverine (@WortheyAC) Jan. 20, 2016
— Shawn Hairston (@JetJacket) Jan. 17, 2016
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the integration of women at the Naval Academy, where midshipmen can train for service in either the Marines or the Navy.