By James H. Burns: Haven’t our current military brass ever watched Star Trek?
From the New York Times: “’Yeo-Person’? One Title Vexes Navy’s Push for Gender Neutrality”
The Navy and the Marine Corps, Mr. Mabus said, had to come up with new names for the dozens of job titles that ended in “man,” like rifleman, mineman and assault man. “Man” can be replaced by “technician,” “specialist” or “professional,” so carrying out the order has been fairly straightforward.
But one title has vexed Navy officials: yeoman, the traditional name for sailors who work in clerical or administrative positions that are now held by many women.
The problem with the title, which has been a part of naval terminology for centuries, is that if you lop off its “man,” you are left with a prefix — “yeo” — that means very little by itself.
“You can’t have yeo-specialist or yeo-technician, right?” said Michael D. Stevens, the master chief petty officer of the Navy, the service’s top enlisted sailor, who has been assigned the job of coming up with new titles for his service. “Yeo-person? There is no such thing.”
Burns sent along a photo collage of Grace Lee Whitney in character as classic Trek’s Yeoman Rand.
First thought: can’t they just call them administrators? Or will that cause low morale, or demands for better pay, or something?
Second thought: I don’t think I’ve seen a joke about substituting “person” for “man” since the 80s. Apparently I’ve been living a sheltered life.
It’s one of those bizarre things where the only exposure to the work I have, and I suspect many others, is through Star Trek. Of course a yeoman can be female, what a silly question.
Just like Wyatt Earp was the bad guy.
What’s wrong with “Ship’s Clerk”?
Stevens’ issue seems like it isn’t actually an issue.
I have a niece who is an airman. Doesn’t seem to bother her any…..
I love how they can see that the word yeo is nonsensical by itself but they can’t go one step further and say “well maybe the whole word should just be replaced entirely” and if an existing term doesn’t suit, they could make up an entirely new word, even another nonsensical one if they wanted, without the gendered language. Maybe they should take a poll…. *imagines the new job title ending up “Jobby McJobber”* ok maybe not a poll….
Combine “yeoman” with “person” = “yeoson?”
Stoic Cynic, I think you’d have a rocky time getting that one through….
That made me LOL a bit at my desk. 🙂
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m non-military and don’t understand the titles anyways, but I think yeoman is kind of a neat title and think they should keep it.
Yeo! Let’s steal their cannons.
The obvious answer is “yeomxn”, to join (surely among many others) “persxn” and “hxstory.”
@Darren Garrison I’m not sure the US Navy is quite ready to switch to language-as-a-moral-weapon-and-proud-of-it. Although I’d love to watch the reactions if they did.
(As an aside, I wonder if a mandatory singular ‘they’ in place of gendered pronouns in the military might actually be achievable. It’s stuffy and traditional enough that it’d be hard to object to as a directive from above. But I’m a Brit so not my military, not my monkeys.)
Taral, Yeos’n is a beautiful title, and rhymes with bosu’n.
Yeoman appears to perhaps be derived from “young man,” and “yeo-woman” has existed in literature since the 19th century.
Sooooo, you’re answer is to name them after a Mexican (MXN) restaurant?
Mr. Burns and everyone else missing the point as usual. Time, energy and money being -wasted- at a prodigious rate as bureaucrats attempt to appease activists and idiots by burning down traditional military titles.
One of the things that keeps military people alive, sane and fighting is Tradition. They try to live up to it. They respect it. They polish it and make it glow.
This activity -destroys- traditional titles. Instead of treating it like a joke or applauding, Mr. Burns et al should be considering the cost of this endeavor in lives and treasure, and questioning the morals of those pursuing it.
But please excuse me, I must be getting back to my bridge now. I have another goat to attend to.
The US military was pretty well into genderless pronouns back in the 1980s when I served.
“Yeoman” is one of those rare terms that I would like to see preserved/used instead of completing the process of fully removing “m-a-n” from the vocabulary. Although if a change must happen, I supposed “clerk” work. It just wouldn’t be as linguistically attractive.
Bosun is actually Boatswain. The “swain” there includes the definition of “young man”. FWIW.
Time, energy and money being -wasted- at a prodigious rate as bureaucrats attempt to appease activists and idiots by burning down traditional military titles.
As usual, you talk out of your ass with no actual knowledge of the subject. If you think that “prodigious” amounts of time, energy, and money are being consumed by this, you’re delusional.
I think the Phantom missed MY point… Which is particularly ironic, since I wrote such a lovely article about him the other day! 😉
I’m hearing the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack in my head: TRADITION!
Seriously, have you served in the military or just read a bunch of military fiction? There are traditions that mean things. Those usually revolve around sacrifice and those that have gone before. Otherwise there are shiploads of tradition me and my shipmates would have happily given the deep six at the chance.
One of the things that keeps military people alive, sane and fighting is Tradition
In my 20 years in the US military, not one “Tradition” ever seem to keep anyone sane.
And some “Traditions” actually end up costing lives. This doesn’t mean, within a military context, the tradition is bad. But let us not over value slavish devotion to traditions.
To The Phantom:
The US Military has a vested interested in treating women as being equal to men as they are a vital and intrinsic aspect of every branch of the US Armerd Forces and also of the Coast Guard which under the Department of Homeland Security. The quest for non-gendered language reflects those changes and will continue.
So should the Naval tradition of whipping sailors who committed often trivial infractions still be in place? Or perhaps you think impressment is a fine way of getting more able bodied sailors? Both fine traditions that have been phased out.
“So should the Naval tradition of whipping sailors who committed often trivial infractions still be in place?”
Don’t forget Rum and Sodomy among those hallowed Naval Traditions (according to no less an authority than Winston Churchill…)
@dann665 Glad to hear it – unworthy of me to assume they hadn’t got at least that far already. (And a data point in support of my theory that it’s easy to do this kind of change without any fuss most of the time.
Jayn says ‘Don’t forget Rum and Sodomy among those hallowed Naval Traditions (according to no less an authority than Winston Churchill…)’
Not to mention keelhauling.
I believe the Churchill quote actually says rum, sodomy and the lash as being the fine Naval traditions. All of which existed in a past time closer than the future time of Yoeman Rand.
Let’s not confuse traditions with regulations. Or off duty preferences.
Well then, to be technical, the changes proposed are changes to regulations, which makes Phantom’s objections on the ground of “tradition” even less cogent.
Ed Green says ‘Let’s not confuse traditions with regulations. Or off duty preferences.’
I’m pretty sure that all three aspects of the Churchill quote referred to things that happened while on duty. Despite what conservatives believe, sexual assault was a problem in the military long, long before women were allowed to join up.
No worries. Change isn’t always easy or there would always be a lot of it. It takes time, money, and effort.
One of the reasons why I remain proud to associate myself with the US military is that we are highly visible. Little things get magnified a great deal.
As a result, we end up leading the nation on many issues and do so on the basis of what provably works. The desegregation of the military under President Truman comes to mind.
That doesn’t make our military perfect, or always right, or always leading on every issue. But it does happen frequently enough to be considered a positive, IMHO.
I’ve never served, but I work with a lot of current and former active duty personnel. So I mentioned this to one of my office-mates, a young woman who spent one or two terms of service in the Navy.
Her response makes me think that the shift from “yeoman” might be difficult mostly because the obvious replacements (e.g., “administrative assistant”) are unpopular. Apparently no one wants to have “administrative” or any of its variants in their title, even if that’s pretty much exactly their work role.
I guess I can see that. We all know that a modern military runs on bureaucracy, but I imagine it’s easier to take pride in being a “technician” or a “specialist” than being some flavor of bureaucrat. Anyone who’s worked a civil service job can sympathize.
@Cat I will apologize for a poorly written comment. The off duty comment was about whipping, and wasn’t clear.
Beyond that, having served 20 years, 6 as a cop, yeah. It all happened on duty. And off duty. On base and off. The military still has a long way to go to fix the mess.
Although I will quibble about conservatives denying sexual assault issues in the days before women were eligible to join.
Ed Green says ‘Although I will quibble about conservatives denying sexual assault issues.’
Oh I’d give you decent betting odds that a lot of conservatives do indeed think sexual assaults as a problem started when women were allowed to join up. Just visit redstate.com for a sampling of how regressive many modern conservatives are. Or visit the blog of The Phantom as I did…
I went to Oberlin College. The sports teams are called the Yeomen, so there has been an ongoing conversation about what to call the women’s sports team. The consensus has basically been to call the teams the Yeomen and Yeowomen, though my personal favorite is the swim team, which calls itself the Yeofish.
A number of conservatives believing something doesn’t mean all do. I know it’s hard to keep that in mind in the US when watching our current political situation but no group over 10 is totally monolithic.
I like Yeos’n myself. Clerk, administrative, having been those outside the military, I can understand not wanting the title to change to something currently respected to something which is generally not respected.
ETA: changed few to a number
Here’s a rule of thumb for whether a military title is cool or not: Put the word “the” in front of it. Does it sound like a superhero name?
“It’s the Yeoman!”
“It’s the Bosun!”
“It’s the Airman!”
And of course, “It’s the Captain!” [Salutes flag, throws shield, tells bartender “No ice, please.”]
Somehow, “It’s the Administrative Assistant!” just doesn’t manage to strike the same fear into the hearts of evildoers.
Tasha Turner said ‘A number of conservatives believing something doesn’t mean all do. I know it’s hard to keep that in mind in the US when watching our current political situation but no group over 10 is totally monolithic.’
I never said all as no political persuasion is monolithic. Certainly the Right isn’t which is how Trump managed to do what he did. He reminds somewhat of Nehemiah Scudder in Heinlein’s For Us, The Living.
He reminds somewhat of Nehemiah Scudder in Heinlein’s For Us, The Living.
If anyone in this election is Scudder, it would have to be Cruz.
Aaron says ‘If anyone in this election is Scudder, it would have to be Cruz.’
Yeah you’re right. Though I think Trump’s actually far more dangerous than Cruz as he really attracts the violent nut cases. Cruz’s too boring to do that.
I’m sorry. I misread your comment. Please forgive me for responding to the comment in my head and not the one you actually made.
Shame “Yeo” is too close to Yo.
Do the current lady Yeomen object to the rank? Are they okay with Yeowoman? The extra syllable might be a bit too long for barking an order.
Cruz’ father is definitely Scudder, but he’s trying hard.
Tasha Turner says to me: ‘’m sorry. I misread your comment. Please forgive me for responding to the comment in my head and not the one you actually made.’
No worries. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans in this State (Maine) were as liberal as most Democrats were. Unfortunately that was pretty much over by the late 80s as the Republican Party drifted to the Right as Democrats drifted to the Left.
Just noting that we had an extensive discussion of this topic in Pixel Scroll 4/6/2016 “I Saw A Scroll Drinking A Pina Colada At Trader Vic’s, His Pixel Was Perfect.” Kompleat with Phantom sightings, false claims, and multiple links on how the Navy is actually handling this (again, my favorite part was the Master Chief Petty Office of the Navy crowdsourcing the suggestion box to all enlisted personnel).