Hey! You Shouldn’t Address A Bunch of Marines As ‘Gentlemen’ When the Group Includes Female Marines

The Long March
DoD photo

Editor’s note: The Long March will be closed for inventory the month of August. We regret any inconvenience this causes our loyal customers. In an effort to keep you reasonably content and focussed, we are offering re-runs of some of the best columns of the year. We value your custom and hope you will stick around for . . . the Long March.

Two short words can change the Marine Corps: “Ladies and . . . .”

As a brand new lieutenant to the fleet, I was shocked standing in formation when my commanding officer began by addressing the unit as “gentlemen.” I was not the only woman in my unit and there have been women serving in my unit for years. He knew I was there, but it seemed as if my presence was being disregarded. A commanding officer is responsible for setting the tone of the entire unit and, without words, he made women feel unwelcome.

Leaving out “ladies and” is so subtle that it is often overlooked. Language is one of a commander’s many powerful tools to influence change and reach every member of the unit. The words and opinions leaders choose to communicate are reflected in the Marines under his or her charge. Marines will take on the persona of their leadership and they will hear what is said and what is implied by what is not said. Each rank and level of leadership has their own sphere of influence beginning with a Private First Class utilizing the proper greeting of the day all the way up the chain of command to a Sergeant Major and a Lieutenant Colonel addressing a battalion.

The Marine Corps has an uncomfortable relationship with women serving in their ranks. The service was the only one to request an exemption from the lifting of the Ground Combat Exclusion Policy, and conducted a multimillion dollar study to prove that women couldn’t hack it in combat jobs. With the highest ranking decision makers publicly trying to keep women out and spending large amounts of taxpayer dollars to do so, equality has not been possible. Over the course of the last year, the service has continued to be troubled by failure to tamp down on nonconsensual photo sharing, as originated in a Facebook group called “Marines United,” which had over 40,000 members, including several active duty members.

When rank and situation permit, I have been able to address the men who forget to say “ladies.”  It has been very uncomfortable exposing myself as vulnerable. The response I often hear is that the man has never worked with a woman. This is absurd. Men and women work together our whole lives. Starting from the time we meet on the playground, through school, college, previous jobs, and in the household.

This year marks 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. For the Marines who served their entire career in units with only men, the habit of only saying “gentlemen” must be broken. Words matter. Women make up 8% of the Marines Corps, which means we do not have as many seats at the table. Without men as allies and advocates of females, change will never occur.

As a woman in an artillery battalion of approximately 800 Marines, with less than ten other females, I was fortunate to have had a platoon sergeant who had worked with women his entire career. He chose to use humor to address these types of situations. His humor was my voice when I felt powerless and disregarded. His tactics often made people realize their mistake in a comfortable setting. Unfortunately, since he was addressing another man, it carried more weight than if I, as a women, had addressed the situation.

I offer a solution to a small problem that I believe can begin the change that the Marine Corps needs. If “ladies and gentlemen” is too long or difficult to remember, I offer “Marines,” “Warfighters,” a unit’s call sign, or just the greeting of the day. If not, we will continue sending the message to our Marines and future leaders that women are not yet equal in our Corps.

1stLt Virginia Brodie is a Marine artillery officer currently serving in 11th Marine Regiment. She is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. She recently returned from a Unit Deployment Program where she served as a Company Fire Support Officer in support of artillery and infantry operations. The views and opinions expressed are her own and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government. 

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Defense Department's authority to prosecute retired service members for crimes they commit, even after retirement.

The court on Tuesday chose not to hear the case of a retired Marine who was court-martialed for a sexual assault he committed three months after leaving the service in August 2015. By not accepting the case, Larrabee v. the United States, the court upheld the status quo: that military retirees are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Read More Show Less
A formation of U.S. Army soldiers with III Corps and Fort Hood honor the American flag as they lower it during the Retreat ceremony March 27, 2014. Retreat is conducted at the end of the day, every day, to honor the flag, which is raised during the Reveille ceremony each morning. All activity on the base stops for the duration of both ceremonies as soldiers pause, face the flag, and salute. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Ken Scar)

Soldiers and their spouses told Fort Hood brass and housing officials Thursday night about horrific conditions inside on-post housing, ranging from blooms of mold and lead paint to infestations of snakes and cockroaches and dangerously faulty window screens.

Read More Show Less

When President Trump spoke of Islamic State last week, he described the group as all but defeated, even in the digital realm.

"For a period of time, they used the internet better than we did. They used the internet brilliantly, but now it's not so brilliant," the president said. "And now the people on the internet that used to look up to them and say how wonderful and brilliant they are are not thinking of them as being so brilliant."

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, a 3rd Infantry Division Soldier who was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and killed in action in Iraq in 2003, is depicted in a photo illustration alongside the Distinguished Service Cross medal, which he is slated to posthumously receive for his heroic actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, April 5, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (U.S. Army)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Army has announced it will upgrade a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier's Silver Star to a Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery during the unit's "Thunder Run" attack on Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003.

Read More Show Less

HANOI (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told the U.S. secretary of state he did not want his children to live with the burden of nuclear weapons, a former CIA officer involved in high-level diplomacy over the North's weapons was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Read More Show Less