US Marines Study Suggests Dropping Terms ‘Sir’ And ‘Ma’am’

( – An exhaustive study commissioned by the US Marine Corps is recommending that the Marines bar recruits from using “sir” or “ma’am” when addressing drill instructors to avoid “misgendering” them and causing offense.

The 738-page study from the University of Pittsburgh, which was first commissioned in 2020 by the Marine Corps for $2 million, said traditional ways of addressing superiors were obstructing gender integration in the Corps.

The study calls for the Marines to employ “gender-neutral identifiers” to eliminate the “possibility of misgendering drill instructors, which can unintentionally offend or cause discord.”

According to the study, by avoiding gender-specific terms, the Marine Corps would “underscore the importance of respecting authoritative figures regardless of gender.”

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

It suggested instead of “ma’am” or “sir,” Marine recruits refer to drill instructors by their rank and last name, arguing that adding “gendered identifiers” causes recruits to think about the drill instructor’s gender “before their rank and role.”

The study highlighted several areas in which the Marines still come across as a male-dominated service, including sexist jokes and behavior as well as the male focus of training material which often uses male pronouns for positions that are held by females.

Earlier this month, Col. Howard Hall, chief of staff for Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services that the shift was being considered by leadership, but the Marines “want to avoid any quick-fix solutions” that cause disruptions “down the line.”

According to the Marine Corps Times, the study’s recommendation is just one of several the Marines’ entry-level training advisory council is considering but it isn’t clear when the Marines will decide which recommendations to pursue.

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