Sound Off: Is It Time to Give Midshipmen a New Name?

navalacademymidshipmen

“Every time I think the PC Police has run out of ridiculous causes, they find something else to complain about. They will not be happy until they have ruined our country.” 

–Vince Zamaria, an Annapolis resident and midshipman sponsor for over a decade.

On January 1st, secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus issued a memo to the chief of naval operations asking for an “update of position titles and descriptions to demonstrate through this language that women are included in these positions.” He also wrote: “Please review the position titles throughout the Navy and ensure that they are gender-integrated … removing ‘man’ from their titles.”

Back in 1976, when women first enrolled at the Naval Academy, the brass just decided to call them “midshipmen,” but times have changed and the Pentagon is aiming to make the United States military gender-blind.

Some readers of The Capital in Annapolis are irate about the coming change (including Mr. Zamaria quoted above). “I’ll be fine with ‘midshipperson’ once females are upheld to the same physical standard and males can have long hair,” wrote another reader.

It’s not just the Naval academy facing a change: jobs like construction man, Corpsman and Torpedoman will also be changed under the new rules.

Folks in West Point are enjoying the controversy, since the Army had the foresight to use the gender-neutral “cadet” way back in the day.

Suggested new terms include mid, midshipperson, midshipmate, middie, subensign or ensign junior grade. The Navy has refused to comment on what names it’s considering.

So, here’s the question: can “midshipman” just be declared a gender-neutral term so everyone can get on with things? After all, haven’t women at Annapolis have been called that for 40 years without much drama or trauma? Or it it fair that the new standard be applied uniformly across the service branches? If they’re changing the name, what should it be? Sound off!

  • skypilot1992

    Any middie can tell you what the blue ring or border on the Dixie Cup hat is called and the legend behind it. Ah I digress…let the four year groups in the NROTC and Academy programs what THEY want re. dropping “man.”. Then consider the options. Yep, I’m a WASP older guy…but also a former 4 yr midshipman.

    Really obnoxious???……what we gonna do ’bout “female” and “woman”

    Can’t we just take a breath? Not particularly pleased with comparison to USMA in this blog unless in a subordinate position. Hmmmm

  • skypilot1992

    Any middie can tell you what the blue ring or border on the Dixie Cup hat is called and the legend behind it. Ah I digress…let the four year groups in the NROTC and Academy programs what THEY want re. dropping “man.”. Then consider the options. Yep,I’m a WASP older guy…but also a former 4 yr midshipman.

    BTW: How about “woman” and “female” and “human” and so on….?

  • Gunner

    Another naval tradition being thrown out the window to appease the PC crowd.

    • robertabbott

      Wouldn’t know about trying to appease the PC crowd but this being the 21st century, naval academy does not just consist of males only anymore. The times as Bob Dylan sang are a changing. Two options available, get with the program or get left behind.

  • Ray Newton

    So…would seaman Smith be known as E-3 Smith? No gender in pay grades, I’m just thinking out loud.

  • Yo Top

    No do not change the name. It is a tradition that goes back centuries. Sometimes going PC just goes too far. Besides, this name does not degrade anyone, it is a rank.

    • Sno

      Bad and disrespectful tradition must be changed. We live in the 21st century, not the 18th.

  • Sno

    Yes, the term midshipman/men is sexist, offensive to women and constitutes micro aggression towards women. It must be changed at once to something genderless or gender neutral. Otherwise there can be no gender equality and our society it doomed.

    • Scott

      Please tell me this was sarcasm. I was there as mid 3/c when first female plebes arrived. I can tell you the least of their issues or concerns had to do with any perception that “midshipman” was offensive or sexist. It was then as it is now, a rank that is centuries old and one they were proud to have achieved.

    • BLyons USN Ret.

      Society can only be “DOOMED” if we listen to these whining PC Police who have never accomplished anything in ther MISERABLE LIVES except try to make EVERYBODY ELSE ON THE PLANET MISERABLE ALONG WITH THEM. Talk about useless human garbage, The PC Police & their ilk should be relegated to the TRASHPILE OF HISTORY.
      .

  • shipfixr

    This whole thing just goes to add proof that Mabus is a political hack. There are many policies to better integrate women into the military; some are good; some are bad; a few are just PC ridiculous….the ridiculous list just got a new #1 item. Mabus should give some thought as to what he can do FOR the Navy instead of TO the Navy!

    • Doc

      Time for Mabus to go and take Ash with him, doing nothing but weakening our military for PC reasons.

  • shipfixr

    “Folks in West Point are enjoying the controversy, since the Army had the foresight to use the gender-neutral “cadet” way back in the day.” Yeah, I’m sure that’s what they were thinking of when the Academy at West Point was founded. But, I did a little research on the word and found some of the synonymsrelated to the word ‘Cadet’ in Websters: “pimp [slang], fancy man, pander, procurer” //s

  • Sqwerty

    IMV, SECNAV Mabus has out-served his usefulness.

  • Paul

    It is not necessary to change what isn’t broke. Political correctness is destroying this country

  • Bob

    I got it call them Midshipman until you change the word WOMAN!!!!

    • Marine64

      Maybe “woman” needs to be broken apart and pronounced that way: WO MAN!

  • Sqwerty

    Time for a new name for the Midshipmen? Nah … time for a new SecNav for the Navy …

  • TeXan1111

    We should continue to call the women middies, men. That makes a lotta sense.

  • ELINT-6

    The Secretary of the Navy (SecNav) is over-reaching and just plain wrong.

    The title ‘midshipmen’ at the US Naval Academy is steeped in tradition; it evokes the honorable history and tradition of the US Navy. The Academy adapted to change when women were first admitted to the storied institution, women are ‘middies’ today.

    Other thansatisfy the SecNav;s inane drive for political correctness this is an unnecessary change.

  • JJMurray

    So sick and tired of everything changing just because someone MIGHT be offended. Midshipman – OH MY! The word MAN is in there! Heaven forbid that a woMAN have to do a job with those three letters in it!

  • GatorSalior

    Midshipman is a rank that predates the US Navy, it was used for hundreds of years in the British Navy.

  • Don

    We always called them “Crack Troops” in the Army. Mostly more trouble than they were worth. Never knew when they would be at work. Either pregnant or some other reason.

    • dondreak

      Remember when it used to be a compliment to be called a “Crack Salesman”?

  • rcdoyle

    It’s a bad idea from the PC crowd, one of many recently.

  • Larry

    How about leave the name alone, I’m pretty sure with all the nonsense going on in the world we have better things to worry about and I am pretty sure our enemies don’t care what we call our Midshipman, they are probably laughing at us even harder.

  • richdsn2

    I do not understand why the “female” PC Police want to change everything, no wait I was just now inconsiderate. . . . why the “feperson” PC Police. . . Personally I do not agree with the whole ‘person’ in everything when “they” leave out the most obvious. Only when “Woperson”, Wepersons”, “Feperson”, and “Huperson” become the norm, will the rest of it make any sort of normalcy. But even then. . . at what point have we as a race, digressed.

  • Jordan

    So if all the non-“woman” names in the military need to be gone, then all females in all branches need to also be at the male standards in PT. Only fair.