The Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, announced Wednesday that the Navy and the Marine Corps altered military ratings in order to “quit segregating women.” The explanation came during a National Press Club meeting after the club’s president asked Mabus why the Navy was so concerned with changing a handful of job titles last week when there seem to be more vital issues to be focused on.
Last week, the Navy announced they were altering some of their historic ratings and replacing the job titles with something new. It was announced that titles such as yeoman, boatswain’s mate and master-at-arms would be replaced with seaman, petty officer and chief. Officials originally disputed the claim that the change came in an effort to try to be more gender neutral and said it was to make the enlisted advancement system more fair and to make it easier to get jobs for soldiers leaving the Navy. On Wednesday, Mabus offered a different explanation.
“It’s to quit segregating women,” Mabus said. “We do it by uniforms, women wear different uniforms.”
“Can you imagine if we asked another group to wear a different kind of uniform?” he asked.
Mabus also declared that he issued the title changes not only for the Navy but for the Marine Corps as well. Mabus said ratings names change in the military all the time and offered the example that 45 years ago “radiomen” and “signalmen” were used but are not anymore.
“I thought it was important to be gender-neutral,” he continued. “Now we’ve gone one step farther in the Navy. My first direction was to make them gender-neutral. At the recommendation that came back to me from the master chief petty officer of the Navy, we’re changing our ratings structure so that instead of being a yeoman 3rd class you’re going to be a petty officer third class, the way you’re addressed.”
A White House petition to change the job rankings back to their original titles was launched in September and as of Thursday had received more than 71,500 signatures, almost hitting 3/4 of its 100,000 signature goal by October 30.
“For 241 Years Navy personnel have been identified by their Job specialty, known as a ‘Rating,'” the petition statement says. “The oldest rates such as Boatswain Mates, and Gunners Mate predate the founding of this country. Being known by your job title was a sense of pride. A sign of accomplishment. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations just senselessly erased this tradition. One only has to visit Navy social media pages to see the disgust and outrage of current and former personnel. One by one current leadership continues to erode the very things that set the Navy apart from the other services.”