Editor’s note: The following is an opinion piece. The writer is not employed by Marine Corps Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Marine Corps Times or its editorial staff.
Human nature resists change and that is why the military, specifically the Marine Corps, prides itself on adapting and overcoming.
In 2013, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus began discussing unisex uniform options. Soon after, a survey was launched in order to vote for an updated female dress blue coat that would more closely resemble the male uniform.
Originally, I was hesitant and had negative opinions about the uniform change. I like the fit and the familiarity of the coat I already own. Why change? Why fix something that is not broken?
Then, I remembered that this was a majority vote made by many Marines whom this will affect, unlike myself, and it is a step in the direction toward gender-neutral standards and equality Marine Corpswide.
A resounding complaint across the vast majority of the Marine Corps is about equality or the lack thereof. The physical, grooming and uniform regulations are different when comparing Marines. The smaller we bridge the gap between the differences in female and male Marines, the closer we get to an identical standard: a Marine Corps standard. In order to move in that direction, we must little by little move toward uniformity in all aspects.
The Marine Corps already has steadily been passing stricter physical and combat fitness standards, which are anticipated to only become more difficult over time to make the female and male standard more comparable and ultimately equal.
Basic level training has become more integrated over time. Female and male platoons train together in boot camp, and now female Marines also attend the School of Infantry on the West Coast instead of strictly the East Coast.
All Marines wear the same utilities uniforms, so why not have all Marines wear the same or very similar dress blue uniforms?
I am a woman, and I embrace my femininity while I am off duty. While I am in uniform, I am a Marine.
The more others look at Marines and see them as female or male instead of strictly the title they have earned, the more divisive our organization will become.
I have personally dealt with stigmas and stereotypes throughout my enlistment that I feel could have been avoided if all standards were equal.
If wearing the same uniform will help future generations to see each other as Marines, then I support it fully. I expect the rest of the organization to adapt and overcome this change, as well as the others that are inevitably coming.
Hopefully, one day we can get breast pockets, too.