Navy drops “man” from 89 historic job titles to gender-neutral

From the Washington Examiner comes this sad sea story:

Navy drops historic job titles following gender-neutral study

The Navy is dropping all 89 of its historic job titles for enlisted sailors following a review sparked by the decision to open all job specialties to women.

The Navy announced on Thursday that it would establish a new classification system that would give sailors occupational specialty codes, not rating titles. That means an E-5 sailor will no longer be called “corpsman second class.” Instead, he or she will simply be called “second class petty officer.”

The major overhaul was first reported by Navy Times. The change aligns the service with the other three branches, which already address their members by their rank, such as “sergeant.”

Some of the ratings, such as boatswain’s mate, gunner’s mate, yeoman and master-at-arms, have been used by the U.S. Navy since the late 1700s.


While the change gets rid of “man” in many job titles, like corpsman, aviation ordnanceman, and legalman, sailors who are at the E-3 rank and below will still be called seamen.


Preserved Killick is unimpressed. Which I suppose they could grandfather, or grandmother, or grandother in a formerly female transgender corpsman… which Pres. Obama in his great respect for the military would still call a “corpse-man”.

And what will they do about coxswain?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. iamlucky13 says:

    We used to have a sufficiently educated populace that people could reasonable on their own recognize that the suffix “man” is not implicity gendered, but shares a universal meaning with its Latin-equivalent “homo”, not with the more specific “vir.”

    I also remember someone telling me that in his first experience with female officers, he was instructed to address them as “sir,” and nobody had any misgivings about the title. It was not a slight against them. It was the traditional way of addressing an officer, and traditions are important to people who’s job requires them to face death.

  2. iowapapist says:

    We all know that those who have no knowledge of history are doomed to repeat it. The Persians, Greeks, Romans and others saw their military might devalued by the effeminacy of the male population. The ancient civilizations deteriorated organically. We have our government compelling and expediting our demise. Beam me up Scotty, there’s no intelligent life here.

  3. John the Mad says:

    “I also remember someone telling me that in his first experience with female officers, he was instructed to address them as “sir,” and nobody had any misgivings about the title.”

    Now I’m not an American, but this strikes me as being somewhat bizarre. The traditional way of addressing a female commissioned officer in the rest of the Anglo-sphere is the term “Ma’am.” Sir denotes a make officer.

  4. CharlesG says:

    What’s wrong with Boatswain’s mate? I wouldn’t think “mate” is automatically male.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    iamlucky13: Educated, yes, but this linguistic travesty was forced on us by purveyors of intentional ignorance.

    “A colonel and a captain, that’s all I see.” – Will Stockdale

  6. I hate gender-bending. I started seeing the use of the feminine pronoun to speak of persons in general and I hated that. I don’t need to be patronized, and I resented having gender ideology shoved down my throat. It may be a losing battle, but I still insist on using masculine pronouns in speaking of persons in general.

  7. JARay says:

    I do not know how you folks in America pronounce the word Coxswain but we Englishmen pronounce it as cox’n just as Boatswain is pronounced Bos’n. How do you do with Lieutenant which is really a French word and we pronounce it as Leftenant? I suppose it should really be Place Holder since’ lieu’ is a place is ‘tenant’ is a holder.

  8. JabbaPapa says:

    This is extraordinarily ignorant in more ways than one — but particularly because the suffix -man is gender-neutral in the first place, as it means “person”, NOT “male person” — as seen BTW quite obviously in the word “woman”.

    (I realise these days that we are being taught that a “woman” can be a man in disguise that we’re supposed to refer to as being “female”)

    Grammatical gender is very weak in English, and in its furthest origins no feminine gender existed in it at all — the two original genders were animate and inanimate, so “he” could refer to men, women, or animals ; “it” to rocks, tables, or roofs. etc.

    The original meaning of “man” is “person”, and the original meaning of “woman” is “person of female sex”.

    These ridiculous ideologues are shooting themselves in the foot basically, by reinforcing the idea that “-man” refers only to men, and so increasing rather than decreasing the occasions for so-called “sexism”.

  9. Nan says:

    Coxswain? You really shouldn’t say things like that in mixed up company, someone might think it’s a come on.

  10. Stephanus83 says:

    “I also remember someone telling me that in his first experience with female officers, he was instructed to address them as “sir,” and nobody had any misgivings about the title.

    Now I’m not an American, but this strikes me as being somewhat bizarre. The traditional way of addressing a female commissioned officer in the rest of the Anglo-sphere is the term ‘Ma’am.'”

    I am American and it strikes me as odd also. I think in that in Star Trek female officers were addressed as ‘sir’. That’s about it. Outside of Gene Roddenburry’s uptopia it just seems silly.

  11. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    “Women”? Shouldn’t that be “wopeople”?

  12. Fr. Kelly says:

    Maybe it is time to set about recovering the much older English usage which distinguishes:
    Mann = Man the species from
    Wo-Mann = woman (man with a womb) and from
    Wer-Mann = male man (man who wages war, who works, who farms, etc. — all of these share the wer- root)
    Incidentally, this distinction reflects the separate punishments of Adam and Eve where each is punished according to his fruitfulness, the woman in childbearing and Adam the werman in farming.

  13. johnnys says:

    Neil Armstrong was Navy.

    One small step for an astronaut, one giant leap for…..a kind of astronaut?

  14. Kerry says:

    This at Reason, and elsewhere: ” Students can designate pronouns in Wolverine Access through the new Gender Identity tab within the Campus Personal Information section. This page can be used to enter, update or delete pronoun information….
    Designated pronouns will automatically populate on all class rosters accessed through Wolverine Access. Rosters pulled from other systems will not have designated pronouns listed. If a student does not designate a pronoun, none will be listed.
    A student has taken advantage of the opportunity afforded by University of Michigan’s new pronoun policy, which allows students to list their chosen pronouns on the official bios that are sent out to their teachers.
    The student, Grant Stroble, has listed his pronoun as “His Majesty.”

    “It’s a madhouse, a madhouse!”

  15. downyduck says:

    Our director of religious education for adults would approve… she refers to God as “mother.”

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    Stupid feminists. These so-called college educated women are the worst of the mean girls, who like to get their own way regardless of how much sense it makes. We have Ms. because they were too lazy to do the hard linguistic work to come up with something better. In science, one never goes from more specificity to less specificity. It is like learning how to speak and then insisting on pointing at things, like a mute person. They needed a name for an unmarried woamn, but, instead of accepting , “miss,” they created a term that no longer referenced marriage, thus making marriage into just another job, instead of the transcendent relationship it were meant to be. They claim that Mr. is used for both a married and an unmarried man, but there was a perfectly good term for an unmarried man in existence – master. Wikipedia claims that Mr. refers to either a married or unmarried man, so feminists, who should have wanted to be more specific, not less, should have petitioned for a unique name for an unmarried man, similar to, “miss,” for a woman. Oh wait, we already had one, but they couldn’t get men to use it, so they started their own less specific term. This is the worst kind of sore-losery. It should be Mister, Misses, Master, and Miss. This has a nice symmetry and is much more specific than, Ms. Marriage status should matter to both men and women, if marriage were held in the esteem it should have, so there should be designators for married and unmarried males and females.

    Feminists do not want to drop, “man,” from titles because they want equal accord. They want to drop it because they see the title as a power term. They do not want equal status – which would acknowledge the unique contributions of either sex. They want equal power – they want to be no different than men. I could rant on this all day. Suffice it to say that feminists are not really trying to support the unique qualities of the female sex – they are trying to destroy them.

    The Chicken

    P. S. Now, how is one going to say, “Man the lifeboats,” eh? Woman the lifeboats!

  17. Maxiemom says:

    Just wondering, this is the 21st century, right? Why is it a problem to re-name these positions?

    A corpsman second class is now called second class petty officer? Is it the fact that a man can suddenly be called second class that bothers you?

  18. un-ionized says:

    The point of Ms. is to not refer to marital status.

  19. gracie says:


    “Our director of religious education for adults would approve . . . she refers to God as mother.”

    Our DRE referred to the Holy Spirit as “she” at a meeting with the teachers – making a point to emphasize the word, along with an engaging smile and a knowing tilt of her head. A number of the teachers smiled back, giggling like children do when they hear a prohibited word. It was all quite nauseating.

  20. Joan M says:

    Why on earth do any of us cowtow to so-called politically correct language? All of this total madness. As far as I an concerned a chair-person is still a chairman. And I am unanimous in that.

  21. un-ionized says:

    Joan, you are too funny. It isn’t kowtowing, some would seem over the top but it stems from a time in very recent history when a woman’s marital status was considered a problem. I have even recently encountered this in a painful way.

  22. un-ionized says:

    Chicken, that’s PERSON the lifeboats to you.

  23. Thomas Sweeney says:

    A Quartermaster will now be called a Quartermistress. or something like that. Please, stop the train and let me off.

  24. MWindsor says:

    “I do not know how you folks in America pronounce the word Coxswain but we Englishmen pronounce it as cox’n just as Boatswain is pronounced Bos’n. How do you do with Lieutenant which is really a French word and we pronounce it as Leftenant? I suppose it should really be Place Holder since’ lieu’ is a place is ‘tenant’ is a holder.”

    American pronunciation: Bos’n, Cox’n, LOO-tenant.

    I was a Boatswain’s Mate (BM) in the Coast Guard. I saw, one fine Sunday morning, an extremely attractive female BM2 (E5) get cat-called by a mere recruit (E1) in his second week of basic. She yelled at him and he made the fatal mistake of chuckling. Things went downhill from there rather rapidly, and she proved that she could swear like a sailor. I thought she was going to tear him limb from limb, at one point. The guys chief gave him 10,000 pushups and he was found snoring on the deck the next morning (for which he also got in trouble).

    She had no problem being called a Bos’n’s “Mate”.

  25. Trinitarian Dad says:

    (whistling sound of the boatswain’s pipe)”
    This is not a drill, this is not a drill! Man overboar… , oops I mean woman, oops I mean person,
    awwwww $%^&** someone fell off the ship!

  26. iprimap says:

    This whole thing about ratings is to make everything gender neutral – Radio Technician instead of Radioman, Sonar Technician instead of Sonarman, Torpedo Technician instead of Torpedoman. That’s fine by me – when I served aboard a nuclear submarine, my rating was Electronics Technician and my job Reactor Operator, and both are gender neutral titles. But while women make excellent engineers, technicians and operators in commercial nuclear power (one of the best engineers with whom I ever worked in 30+ years of commercial nuclear power experience was a woman at a 1000 MWe pressurized water reactor on the Hudson River; her sex had nothing to do with her expertise), they certainly do NOT belong in any combat role, much less on a 120-man sealed nuclear submarine 1000 feet beneath the surface for 3 months at a time. I will give an example of the fool-hardiness of this. I am sure that there are different but equally applicable examples for other branches of the military service.
    When government mandates that sort of “co-ed” arrangement on a nuclear submarine, then the inevitable happens – sailor boy and sailor girl engage in conjugal activity, and sailor girl gets pregnant. Per 10 CFR 20.1208, the radiation dose limit for a pregnant woman is 500 mRem for the entire gestation period, and that cannot be assured when inside a sealed metal tube mere yards away from an operating reactor core. Radiation dose affects fast dividing cells in a fetus worse than slow dividing cells in an adult – the older you get, the more immunity you have. The reason why? Fast dividing cells don’t have enough time to repair radiation-induced damage before cellular division occurs. Thus, any defects or mutations are passed along. This whole thing hurts both mother and baby, and government is irresponsible to allow let alone require the conditions that result in this.
    Equality in dignity is NOT equality in function. That engineer about whom I spoke above was one of the very best, but if / when she got pregnant, then per Regulation, she would not be allowed into the plant to work – she would be sequestered to the Training Center on the hill away from the plant itself and her badge for access into radiologically controlled areas revoked. This is called SAFETY because a woman’s function is different than a man’s.
    Sorry if I went off the deep end, but this whole issue bothers me a great deal. I am not a misogynist. I love women (especially my wife, daughter and Mom). They should be protected.

  27. Maineman1 says:

    Fr. Z,

    As a Navy veteran, I feel it incumbent upon me to offer some personal thoughts in regards to this recent social innovation by the Navy’s political leadership.

    Basic Line Up Front (BLUF): The death of the 240 year old rating system is part and parcel of the same aggressive politically correct cancer that has inflicted severe damage on the Navy since 1994.

    A few months ago, Rod Dreher posted an article entitled “The Pentagon’s Social Justice Warriors” (June 30). A Marine veteran detailed his personal experience with the “social justice warrior” mindset within the military. At the time, I wrote the below statement to offer a defense of the Marine. You can find the original article, and my statement, on Rod Dreher’s page on The American Conservative, if you so wish.

    I feel an urgent need to speak out in defense of the retired Marine, and to buffet his statement with my personal observations during my service with the U.S. Navy.

    I served five years on board an East Coast aircraft carrier, with my time ending in the early 2000s; during this time I deployed to the Mediterranean thrice. I was a deck seaman, and by the time of my departure I advanced to the rank of second class petty officer. I can directly attest to the dire (and very real) impacts of social engineering on the military at the division level, meaning at highly localized levels.

    By the time I arrived for duty, the policy of co-ed commands, especially with women serving with men aboard the “flat tops”, had been in effect since 1994. No doubt, the “brass” of our chain of command, both on board the ship and in Washington DC, lauded this program as a stunning success story of gender inclusion. However, this is what I directly observed:

    * Sexual encounters on board the ship in berthings and other darkened spaces (both in port, out to sea, and on deployment IN WAR ZONES). And, on the second deployment, the captain did NOT hold these sailors, both men and women, accountable. The Love Boat was tolerated and tacitly encouraged.

    * Within a year of our second deployment, I personally knew over 30 female sailors who left our ship due to pregnancies. Over 30 SAILORS possessing a variety of skill sets that then had to be urgently replaced, right before a major deployment. Our division lost six (6) females within SIX MONTHS of the second deployment. Another left two days prior, and one was flown off the ship one (1) week later.

    And the thing is, there are no repercussions for skipping out on deployments for these Sailors. No Page 13s, nothing- they get to avoid sea duty for up to a year. Is that acceptable? Is that a Fleet we want and deserve as a nation?

    * Unequal physical and body standards between men and women. Meaning, my weak PT scores would amount to average, or even great, standards for most female Sailors.

    * Female Sailors are granted 18 weeks of maternity leave (now lowered to 12 weeks since I left), whereas men only have 10 days.

    * Overall, I arrived to a Fleet where men and women are treated extraordinarily differently. In order to benefit women, men were given the short end of the stick. Some equality, eh! This is not a strong culture for the military. This modern military would not have survived one month during World War Two. Camaraderie is dead, except for the bastions of the Special Forces.

    Let me be absolutely clear: I am NOT stating that women should be booted from the service and denied entry into the military henceforth. Women have served honorably for decades in this nation’s military. What I am saying is that men and women should NEVER serve together, especially not in forward deployed bases and sea going ships. The temptation for sexual fraternization, sexual encounters, flirting, favoritism, and all other absolutely inappropriate behavior far outweighs the need for military units to be morphed into Boys and Girls Clubs.

    In order to restore good order and discipline, we need to return to gender separate commands. To detractors of this idea, I say that women have proven themselves completely capable of holding their own and leading their own commands. So, they don’t need men to succeed in this modern military.

    I was hoping to honorably serve our nation for 20 years plus. But in this era of rampant political correctness, I could not fulfill this objective. The social engineers are out to completely emasculate the mighty Armed Forces of the United States. Overall, these radical ideologues have been successful. In terms of the Navy, the final objective of their demented social plans is to dismantle the strength of the U.S. Navy Seals, the last bastion of of traditional camaraderie and masculinity within the Fleet. The traditions and identity of the SEALs drive these ideologues completely insane. What is hindering them is a promise to not “lower the standards,” as the vast majority of these brave MEN do not wish for their lives to be carelessly destroyed because of sophomoric social policies.

    However, lowering standards is the goal. Ray Mabus, political appointee and Secretary of the Navy, said that the SEALS should bring women into their ranks under, get this, FAIR standards. “Fair standards” is obvious code for lowered standards. The social engineers will not be satiated until the SEALS resemble a transgendered, half male, half female multicultural college team.

    Does the Navy have a fleet of warships, or is it a fleet of fertility clinics at sea? Are we the mighty Navy, or Afloat?

  28. albinus1 says:

    And while our military preoccupies itself with social engineering, other countries’ militaries are preoccupied with actually training and planning to, you know, win wars. One of these years we’re going to get into a shooting war with an enemy that will seriously clean our clock. But if we get out of it without one of our personnel being called by the wrong pronoun, I suppose that will count for something.

  29. Maineman1 says:

    May I add that since I wrote the above statement back in July, a female Sailor has since given birth on board a WARSHIP in a WAR ZONE.

    The co-ed military experiment is a massive failure.

  30. Sword40 says:

    As I have posted before; my wife, oldest daughter, second oldest son and myself are or have been in the USMC. The son is finally “hanging it up” next April with 26 years of service (he is a CWO4).
    He says that things have gone to “H*** in a Hand basket”.
    When the wife and I were in, the women had their own Detachment and barracks. They were assigned out to various male units to handle administrative tasks. This was done to free up males for combat roles.
    Back in those days there were no maternity leave benefits. We were married just before I got out. So to insure that she could join me in civilian life, she got pregnant. There were no maternity uniforms in those days. It was an automatic discharge. Our daughter is listed as “a disability incurred while on active duty”, on the wife’s discharge papers and DD214.
    I agree with Joan M. This whole affair makes me sick to my stomach.

    How my son lasted 26 years, I’ll never know.

  31. un-ionized says:

    It was a big mistake to allow women in the service academies.

  32. KateD says:

    The changing of words and meanings is an s.o.p for directed societal modification. This particular change supports the agenda of placing women in combat roles. It’s just the crossing of t’s and dotting of i’s.

    Why have women historically been kept out of combat roles? Because that’s a guaranteed method of decreasing a population. Think hunting regulations. Remove the females and the population decreases…you have to lose a lot of males to have the same kind of negative impact.

    This is just a small part of the cumulative effort to reduce the total number of people on the planet and therefore diminish the effects of anthropogenic climate change, which “they” consider to be the greatest threat to national security.

    Therefore the most subversive AND effective thing we laity can do is to have really big beautiful devout Catholic families…..and homeschool ’em….lol.

    Hagan lío.

  33. Semper Gumby says:

    Maineman1: Well said.

    albinus1: I unfortunately agree with you. Social justice warriors demand an androgynous military. The consequences will be a decline in unit effectiveness, esprit de corps, and mission accomplishment. And ultimately, an increase in coffins flown back to the United States.

    I’m with Preserved Killick on this one. Not impressed.

  34. oldconvert says:

    Thought-policing can go both ways, you know. Years ago when I was a nurse, the title for the one in charge of a ward was “Sister”. And the one in charge of a hospital, “Matron”. Had been since the days of Florence Nightingale. Come the advent of men into nursing, eventually some of them reached that position and said, reasonably enough, that “Sister/Matron” was not a suitable term for a male nurse, so wanted to adopt the American usage and be called “Charge Nurse”/”Senior Charge Nurse/Nursing Officer”. Fine, no problem.

    But I remember reading, in the nursing press, calls from men to have all nurses in those ranks called “Charge Nurse” etc, irrespective of sex. They wanted the time-honoured titles of “Sister” and “Matron” to be abolished, because they didn’t want/couldn’t have them.

    (Actually, that movement failed. The Matron of our local hospital is a man.)

  35. Ed the Roman says:

    Ed the Roman, aka Ed the Roman, CDR, USN (Ret), is on a surface warfare message board. Reaction to this is almost universally negative. Vehemently negative.

    The reaction is less to losing “man” in certain rating names (because they don’t all have “man” in the first place) but to losing the rating names per se: they’re being replaced by alphanumeric codes. Part of the rationale OPNAV is offering is ease of transition to civilian employment. Because 1R534 tells so much more about a skill set than Electrician’s Mate, after all. It’s also offered as bringing us more in line with the other services. Which the vast majority see as a bug, not a feature.

    There is speculation that the loss of rating names is also in part to neuter rating names by disappearing them.

    JARay, we pronounce coxswain and boatswain identically to the RN, but lieutenant is pronounced lootenant, as in the tenant of the water closet.

  36. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Chicken —

    Of course “Master” is really the same word as “Mister,” and the whole “Miss/Mrs./Ms.” consortium are all just alternate pronunciations of “Mistress.” Etymology is a funny thing.

  37. Ed the Roman says:

    Just checked the board. Still overwhelmingly against, with a few more voicing support of the “it might not be that bad and we have to anyway” variety.

    But much unhappiness. Including from a Very Senior Retiree.

  38. Semper Gumby says:

    To parallel Fr. Z’s post and Ed the Roman’s observation, my emails indicate widespread discontent in the Marine Corps, and among former Marines, over SecDefense Carter’s and SecNavy Mabus’ policy. Senior Marine Corps officers were able to save several iconic terms such as “rifleman” but 19 Marine Corps combat titles will be neutered.

    From the June 27, 2016 Marine Corps Times (yep, Marines have been known to open an occasional newspaper, but we have to move our lips when we read) by editor Gina Harkin:

    The move has proved unpopular with many Marines and sailors, with several branding it political correctness run amok.

    “We have reached peak crazy,” one reader commented on an earlier story by Marine Corps Times about this topic.

    “If a woman isn’t going to consider making the Navy her career because she is called a fireman or a corpsman, then I don’t think she was going to make the Navy a career period,” another reader commented on a Navy Times story. “We don’t need [people who are easily offended] like that clogging up the institutions that protect our country.”

    That said, there are some outstanding female Marines in fields such as intelligence and supply. A Marine infantry battalion low on supplies and intelligence (ok, knock it off, I mean low on operational intelligence) will rapidly find itself in serious trouble. A hearty “Semper Fidelis” to these female Marines.

  39. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Old English had ‘abbodisse’ from Late Latin ‘abbatissa’, but I’ve never heard of anything like ‘swainisse’. I don’t have a clear sense of rowing usage, but I think women who are coxswains are called coxswains (though coxswains are often called ‘coxes’ in everyday practice).

    I wonder if Mr.Obama’s pronunciation is one of the many enduring effects of his Indonesian youth: in Indonesian, the ‘s’ of ‘korps’ is pronounced.

    I think Legisperitus is right in talking in terms of “purveyors of intentional ignorance”: I remember quite clearly the academics in the 1970s who acted as if they were incapable of appreciating that where German has ‘Mann’ and ‘Mensch’, ‘man’ functions as both in English.

  40. MWindsor says:

    “Part of the rationale OPNAV is offering is ease of transition to civilian employment. ”

    CDR Ed the Roman – Yeah, I can see a big help for damage controlmen and Yeomen as they move back into civilian life. What are they going to call them now? Damage control persons? Yeopeople?

  41. boxerpaws63 says:

    should Hillary Clinton get elected,praying my son retires from the Navy.

  42. Ed the Roman says:

    MWindsor: they’ll go numeric, with a plain language description that will often go on at too great length to be conversational.

  43. Semper Gumby says:

    Venerator: Good points. I’ve also heard coxswain pronounced as “coxsin” (landing craft and lifeboat drills).

    This brings to mind a lesson I received in nautical pronunciation. My battalion once loaded up on Navy amphibious ships for a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean (port call in Israel! field exercise with the Spanish Marine Corps! port call in Naples and the Glories of Rome! etc.). Anyway, on the second day, while heading east (or perhaps that is still said as “steaming east”?) across the Atlantic, a helpful Navy lieutenant was talking about what goes on during a big storm at sea, such as fewer personnel lined up for chow. We were on a rather big ship, and I asked him if the waves ever reached as high as the gunwales- pronouncing it as “gun-whales.” The lieutenant quickly recovered from his amusement, and said it was pronounced “gunnels.” And he was right, the chow lines were shorter during a storm.

  44. cl00bie says:

    “And what will they do about coxswain?”

    “genitalsswain”? :)

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