Terms like ‘rifleman’ or ‘guard’ could become a thing of the past under a new UK military proposal
The British Armed Forces is considering a proposal to remove gender-specific terms such as rifleman or guard from its titles at all levels and replace them with less masculine terms, under measures being assessed by Army Chief of Staff Patrick Saunders.
Potential shift would uproot centuries-old military tradition “Terms and Terminology” The job was reportedly considered after some female soldiers told Sanders they felt ostracized by male-dominated language in the military.
“The Army is proud of its heritage and traditions that have helped make it an effective fighting force throughout its long history,” An army spokesman said in comments published in The Times on Friday. “Our people give the British Army a unique edge and we treat every soldier the same.”
The change, if it takes effect, would also apply to the British Navy, potentially making terms such as “midshipman” and “seaman” redundant. It’s unclear what, if any, proposed replacements might be for the current Army and Navy titles.
Although the proposal came from within the ranks of women in the military, the resolution behind it does not appear to be unanimous. A female soldier who was a corporal in a rifle regiment said this week that she had earned her title, according to the Daily Mail: “You dare to take my rifleman rank, I am proud of it.”
Another anonymous male soldier told The Times he was not concerned with what titles female soldiers might or might not want to be called, describing the issue as “Culture war bullshit.”
The British Army has recently fallen short of its targets for female representation in its ranks.Sanders said in a recent interview that this led to “It’s these conversations” About inclusivity. “If you want to unlock people’s potential, people have to feel like they can be themselves.”
Saunders is still considering the proposal, which follows similar steps taken by the Royal Air Force (RAF), with a final decision expected soon. Last year, the RAF abolished the last gender-specific rank, replacing “flying technician” with “aviation specialist”.
You can share this story on social media: