‘Man’ Overboard


A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Navy announced it will consider removing “man” from nearly two dozen of its traditional job titles, including yeoman, fireman and seaman, out of necessity for a more gender-friendly military.

“…as we achieve full integration of the force…this is an opportunity to update the position titles and descriptions themselves to demonstrate through this language that women are included in these positions,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote, according to a Navy Times article.

This move, the Navy claims is necessary, as the Navy and Marines prepare to open all combat billets to women. Standards would not change, only titles. The Navy thinks gender-friendly titles will make more women want to join. Really?

“Seaman” could be changed to something like “seaperson”? “Corpsman” to “corps specialist”? Ridiculous.

“Man overboard” to “specialist overboard”…yes, if you are overboard, you are specializing in swimming, real quickly.

As a Navy veteran, I am against this unnecessary change. I am, by military trade, a “Radioman” and will never accept “Radiowoman” as a title. Sadly, “radioman” was replaced with “information systems technician” in 1999 when ratings merged.

I don’t understand offense taken to civilian terms like “chairman” or “congressman” or offense to “hey guys” as a greeting. Oversensitivity to trivial things is an annoying characteristic of this era. Don’t we have bigger problems scrubbing our lexicon to be androgynous? Eerily, 1984-ish/Giver-ish? Anyone?

Certain aspects of feminism do turn me off. I am what some call a “take-out menu” feminist, I suppose. I am an independent woman. I handle business in the boardroom and in the kitchen; I am a strong supporter of women in the military; I support women’s equality, yet I am not offended one iota by proudly earning a time-honored title. To me, that means I’m a woman and I do it as well as any man can and I don’t need you to change the standards for me to prove it.

—Christy Hinko


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Joe Scotchie is the editor of both The Roslyn News and New Hyde Park Illustrated News. In 2009, he won a New York State Press Association award for a sports feature. Joseph Scotchie’s past publications include biographies of Thomas Wolfe and Richard Weaver and a comprehensive history of the city of Asheville, North Carolina.


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