Marine firing his rifle in training.

On The Gist podcast yesterday, Pesca remarked on changes the United States Marine Corps is making to 19 Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) designations, to make them gender neutral. They’re replacing “man” in those designations with other descriptors:

  • Basic infantry Marine.
  • Riverine assault craft Marine.
  • Light-armor vehicle Marine.
  • Reconnaissance Marine (to include three other recon-related jobs that include the word “man”).
  • Infantry assault Marine.
  • Basic field artillery Marine.
  • Field artillery fire control Marine.
  • Field artillery sensor support Marine.
  • Fire support Marine.
  • Basic engineer, construction and equipment Marine.
  • Basic tank and assault amphibious vehicle Marine.
  • Armor Marine.
  • Amphibious assault vehicle Marine.
  • Amphibious combat vehicle Marine.

Pesca’s take was two-pronged: he naturally had some snarky comments about the awkwardness of some of these titles, as well as a few comments about reactions folks had to the changes in comments to posts on Facebook. As Pesca noted, it appears that Marines object to being called “Marine”.

Not being in the military, I can’t say I have an opinion on these designations, but they did bring me back to how Star Trek: The Next Generation handled gender-specific pronouns in Star Fleet. The writers basically punted, having subordinates call all superior officers, “sir”, regardless of gender. At the time, I thought it was an interesting concept. Now, given that more and more women serve in our Forces, and the ban on transgendered folks openly serving has been lifted, this is a good thing.

Still, I keep thinking about LT Firstborn and his use of a very specific spoken-word convention on the submarines. Like ST:TNG, I could see the language of war remaining as simple as possible, monosyllabic where possible. Maybe “man” and “sir” are still the right way to keep it short and simple?

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