Marines may ban ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ to avoid ‘misgendering’

Marines may ban 'sir' and 'ma'am' to avoid 'misgendering'

No more, “Yes, sir!”

The US Marines may ban recruits from respectfully addressing senior members as “sir” or “ma’am” to avoid “misgendering” and offending them.

The woke recommendation was made in a new report commissioned by the Corps from the University of Pittsburgh.

The exhaustive 738-page study that the Marines first commissioned in 2020 that said traditional ways of addressing superiors were holding back gender integration.

“Employing gender-neutral identifiers eliminates the possibility of misgendering drill instructors, which can unintentionally offend or cause discord,” the study said.

“By teaching recruits to use gender-neutral identifiers for their drill instructors, Services underscore the importance of respecting authoritative figures regardless of gender.”

Col. Howard Hall, chief of staff for Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services this month that the radical shift was being considered by leadership — albeit with some push-back, the Marine Corps Times said.

Marine recruit being addressed by drill sergeant  in South Carolina.
If taken up, it would end the age-old tradition of recruits respectfully addressing drill instructors as “sir” or “ma’am.”
Getty Images

The two-year study by the University of Pittsburgh’s Warrior Human Performance Research Center also said that “the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard effectively de-emphasize gender in an integrated environment.”

“Instead of saying ‘ma’am’ or ‘sir,’ recruits in these Services refer to their drill instructors using their ranks or roles followed by their last names,” it said.

“Gendered identifiers prime recruits to think about or visually search for a drill instructor’s gender first, before their rank or role.”

Drill Sgt. Daniel Contreias addresses male and female recruits in 2013.
The study accuses the Marines of being behind other military services that have made the switch.
Sgt. Richard Blumenstein/Marine

The proposal is one of a half-dozen recommendations the Marines’ entry-level training advisory council is now considering, the Marine Corps Times said. It’s not clear when the service will decide which ones to pursue.

Col. Hall warned the December meeting of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services that it would not be “a quick fix.”

“That’s going to take some effort,” Hall told the committee of the switch to gender-neutral identifiers, according to the military outlet.

“We want to avoid any quick-fix solutions that introduce perturbations down the line.”

Hall later told the outlet that “it’s not something we would change overnight.”

“We’ve got a history of ‘sir, ma’am, sir, ma’am. If we change something at the root level, how do we make the corresponding change at the Fleet Marine Force? So it’s not ours to implement alone,” he said.

The study highlighted a number of areas where the service still comes across as being a male-dominated operation, including sexist behavior and jokes and training material focusing on men, often using male pronouns even for positions held by females.

Women became a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps in 1948, but still only account for 4.3% of officers and 5.1% percent of those enlisted for active duty, according to the Marine Corps University.

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