I've always likened the evolution of the English language to just about anything else. One must adapt with the times as they arrive. New words are added to the world's English dictionaries every year and we learn about such words. Tangentially, it's a fun adventure learning new words and we should take more time to do so with some of our free time, but I digress, or stray, or wander, or deviate, with good intentions.
What really befuddles me is how politically correct our generation has become when the United States Marine Corps is looking to remove the word "man" from certain titles that relate to "some of its most iconic occupations."
"...the Marine Corps plans to rename 19 of its military occupational specialties, or MOSs, as the result of a months-long review mandated by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. A service-wide message announcing the changes is expected to be published within the next few days.
The terms "rifleman" and "mortarman," are among those that remain untouched, according to a list — obtained by Marine Corps Times on Monday — of 33 MOSs that were reviewed. And that was by careful design, said a Marine official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. (Marine Corps Times)
Why is this even an issue? I really don't understand it. Are the women who are making their way through the ranks of the Marine Corps, or any other branch of the military, even remotely concerned with how they're labeled? I may not know exactly how a woman feels because, go figure, I am a man and I do not identify as a woman one single iota. However, it really bewilders me when your title is more important than carrying out the tasks at hand for your job. I am all for women competing for a bunch of different positions and titles that men, over the course of time, have dominated. I root for the underdog and women are most certainly the underdog in this scenario, but I cannot support the idea that you need to change everything to be considered "gender-neutral." How does that help anything or anyone in the long run?
Let's take it a step further. Even if the Marine Corps ends up carrying this out and changes the likes of "rifleman" and "mortarman" to whatever sort of title they want to appease the masses of people who adamantly want this, what kind of influence will this have on the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard? Do you, being the Marine Corps, expect the other branches to follow suit?
I harken back to one of my favorite people that's ever walked God's green earth and that was George Carlin. The man had an incredible wit and way of providing context and perspective to just about any aspect of life. He talked about how we have this "soft language" to change everything to make ourselves feel better. It's as if we should be able to control how words and labels and titles are defined rather than how to get the job done. Carlin mastered this riff as followed:
"...when it comes to changing the language, I think (feminists) make some good points, because we do think in language and so the quality of our thoughts and ideas could only be as good as the quality of our language. So maybe some of this patriarchal [bleep] ought to go away. I think spokesman ought to be spokesperson. I think chairman ought to be chairperson. I think mankind ought to be human kind, but they take it too far, they take themselves too seriously, they exaggerate.
They want me to call that thing in the street a person-hole cover. I think that's taking it a little bit too far. What would you call a lady's man, a person's person? That would make a He-man an It-person. Little kids would be afraid of the boogie-person. They'd look up in the sky and see the person in the moon. Guys would say come back here and fight like a person. And we'd all sing "for it's a jolly good person."
I'm not here to poke fun at feminists. I'm more frustrated with the group of people who decided it was a good idea to approve this change. To expand on Carlin's point, do you remember those great songs that we sang over the years? "I'm Only Person" by Person League, "Short People" by Randy Newperson, "I'm Every Person" by Chaka Khan, and "Person on the Moon" by R.E.M., just to name a few. It just proves how ridiculous this is from the get-go. I'm not trying to be angry old person here, but why do we have to constantly change our language to make a handful of people happy? It seems as if the adversity of a small few need to make changes for the majority of us. I get that the civil rights movement and other important periods in history have started out as small, but changing the names of Marine Corps "rifleman," "mortarman," and others is not the step in the right direction. In fact, you're making "humans" more of an afterthought than anything else.