marines_r900x493There is an ongoing review in the Marine Corps to change titles to be non-gender specific.  Restated differently, that would be ”gender inclusive” titles.  Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in a memo dated the first of this year said, “Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing ‘man’ from the titles and provide a report to me as soon as is practicable and no later than April 1, 2016.”

An unnamed Navy official clarified in January that Secretary Mabus directive doesn’t include well known terms like infantryman, rifleman or midshipman.  No, the only titles subject to change are titles where the word “man” stood separately, e.g. reconnaissance man.  That contradicts the Marine Corps review though which includes all titles.

Asexual terms exist for infantryman like Infantier or musketeer for rifleman.  Yes, imagine how “Every Marine a Rifleman” replaced with “Every Marine a Musketeer” would go over?  There are other gender neutral terms for an infantryman like infantryperson, fusilier and foot soldier.  My objective though is not to do the Marine review’s job for them.  They are probably much smarter anyway.

My objective is to analyze potential reasons and the importance behind the initiative.  Will asexual terms make the combat arms more inviting?  I don’t know if simply changing the title to a difficult and dirty job makes it more attractive.  Do more women choose to become sanitation engineers because they aren’t called garbage men?  Are there any female “sanitation engineers”?

Will the two Marine women who have volunteered to transfer to the Infantry feel more “included” by changing the terms by which male Marines have served under in some cases since its founding?  Maybe?  It might even be more likely if they are radical feminists but there’s also the “dare it be mentioned” resentment that always accompanies drastic and what some may say is unnecessary change.  The dynamic between the two is likely to cancel out any feeling of inclusivity.  It’s irrelevant though.  As we have seen with the Marine Corps well documented case for requesting a waiver to integrating the Infantry which was rejected and ignored; any Marine that dares to publicly display any resentment let alone resistance to the directive to integrate will be crushed.

Changing titles to asexual terms isn’t likely to boost recruiting.  Has any woman not chosen to go to the Naval Academy (which has the greatest female to male ratio of all the Military Academies) because they would be called a midshipman?  Changing titles may create a more inclusive atmosphere for women that prize non-gender specific titles over traditional ones.   The Marines though do have a reputation for being the most tradition bound.  So why is changing the language important?  It’s because it controls the discussion.

Eliminating “man” from titles but more importantly making the approved title asexual, makes debate difficult.  Should gender performance differences arise, those wanting to explore or debate will have to phrase the discussion as one between male and female Infantry.  Done clumsily, they can be portrayed as misogynist.  That helps to distract from the real performance issue differences.  Secondly, negative incidents involving female Marine infantry will not be reported as such.  Casualty rates, who is carrying (or not carrying) a specific weapon/load, inappropriate behavior etc. won’t be reported in a way that immediately spotlights the sex of the Marine.  That makes research and subsequent discussion much more difficult which supports the final objective, control.  Finally, the erasure of sexual differences on paper through titles often suffices to create the illusion that problems don’t exist.

So in the end that’s why creating asexual titles for the integration of women into the Infantry is important.  It allows progressives to control the discussion because they are creating new language that doesn’t recognize differences and hence they won’t exist.

“Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.”  ― Gore Vidal


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About The Author

Will Rodriguez is a 20+ year former Infantry officer with experience in both light and mechanized units as well as armor. His last assignment was serving in the Infantry school's battle lab doing DOTMLPF (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities) assessment on weapon systems, equipment) assessment on weapons systems, equipment and technology to equip the Infantry for the next 10-20 years. Will also is the senior editor for a website dedicated to issues of interest to the Infantrymen and those that support them. Will is a frequent contributor to Spotter up as well as an assistant editor. His work has also been published in,, the Loadout Room and Infantry Magazine. He is also a firearms instructor and holds a masters in Counseling and Leader Development.

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