Monday, May 11, 2015

The Guinea Pigs of Annapolis

I would like to take a moment to apologize to the female members of the United States Naval Academy Class of 2015; they were not assigned the right female leadership with the right priorities - and I think the picture of the Lieutenant (for the record, not her fault either, sorry to use your pic Shipmate - but it is what the Navy wants us to use) to the right tells you all you need to know as an executive summary, but let's go a bit in to the detail.

The women of this class have been used repeatedly as guinea pigs for new "gender neutral" uniform testing. Why our future 2LT and ENS? Well, because of who they are and where they are, just a few people can force their will on them and ignore any feedback they may receive contrary to a narrow agenda. These agenda driven leaders could blaze their trail on the back of other women because the other women had no say in it or effective redress of grievances.  

Great leadership lesson to the next generation, fellow GenX and junior Baby Boomers. Well done. Well fracking done. Pick up your CAPT Holly Graf Memorial Leadership Award at Gate 8 between 0200-0245 on Sunday.

In a way, we had good warning of this when the class of 2015 had male covers strapped on their heads, so no shock it seems they will have the clearly ill-fitting and uncomfortable choker whites to complete the loop.
Midshipman First Class Adriana Ayala, who was part of that initial fitting, said the new dress whites are "definitely different, nothing like any uniform" currently worn by females. It closely resembles the male version but is well-fitted to the female body, and "it does look very sharp."

"It is comfortable, but definitely not as flexible as the old uniform," said Ayala, a history major from Englewood, California, who is slated to be a surface warfare officer aboard the destroyer Gonzalez in Norfolk. "It's pretty stiff. Maybe it takes some breaking in; it was definitely hard to move our arms."
I've been blessed to discuss this with few female MIDN who, rightfully, are trying to stay under the radar, but their concerns deserve a voice. I'm going to take a bit here and there from those conversations and outline how this happened to the broader audience.

When the switch to male combination covers occurred in 2015's 3/C year, both male and female MIDN came out voicing their disapproval. A survey was even done of the female MIDN, and the vast majority disapproved. Other surveys were done, and from the perspective of the MIDN, results ignored. 

Even after significant negative feedback, the opinion of those impacted most evidently did not matter to the agenda. 

If the look wasn't right, then the spin was there was a chance to get a better fit.  Better fit, more approval - that was the theory. 

So now for their graduation they have been fitted for choker whites, another male uniform in an effort to make them more "standardized" (AKA - not look like they are a woman; implying, again, that there is something wrong with being a woman). The thing is - they are not standardized.

These women are joining the Fleet and the first thing they want to do is to get started right and integrate themselves as soon as they can ... but at graduation, they are wearing a uniform that no other women are, and may never in the long run. If that plays out, for the rest of their lives, their USNA graduation pictures will have them in their guinea pig outfits. That is wrong on so many levels ... but I guess that doesn't matter. 

I fully understand why the opinion of a NROTC retired CDR does not matter to Annapolis - but why ignore those most impacted, the female MIDN themselves? I think we answered that questions already, but it begs to be asked again.

Is it fair and right that their male classmates will be in their traditional officer's uniform, while the female MIDN will be in an experimental, training uniform? 

There will be female officers present from the Fleet, with different uniforms than the newly commissioned ensigns. That is not uniformity. That is not standardization; that is experimentation. 

In a larger sense, what is actually wrong with being a woman? What is so important to awkwardly make them look like a man on graduation? The underlying message keeps coming back; there is an assumption that being a woman is something to hide from. 

I'm sorry, come closer so Mama Salamander can slap 'yo face, her son flinches even pondering such a mindset. 

Toxic leadership? There's your Ref. B.

There was an opportunity to modernize the female uniform here, and the female MIDN might have been a great place to brainstorm solutions. Those in power, it seems, did not want the MIDN for their brains, they only wanted their bodies for others to work through their own issues on.

Their input was not desired, only their presence. This is how they found out;
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Debbie [redacted] ;[redacted]>
Date: Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at [redacted]
Subject: Mandatory 1/C Female Choker Coat Fitting Starts Today at 1300
To: "Midn_2015.[redacted]"
Cc: Linda [redacted] [redacted]>, Michael [redacted] [redacted]>



Starting today, Monday, 17 November at 1300 the 1/C females will be having a mandatory fitting of the choker coat.

Location: Dress Uniform Issue Center, 5th Wing Basement
Dates and Times:
Monday, 17 November 1300-1545
Tuesday, 18 November 0730-1545
Wednesday, 19 November 0730-1545

USN Female Choker Coat Program Information is as follows:

1.0 Background. In conjunction with the Gender Neutral effort endorsed by SECNAV, NEXCOM via N13 has tasked Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF) to develop a Female Service Dress White Coat design that mirrors the Male Service Dress White Choker Coat design but addresses the female fit. In addition to modifying the fit of the coat to align with USN Female sizing, a metal hook and eye closure will be incorporated into the neck closure and a review of the Female USMC (development), the Australian and the Korean Choker Coats will be conducted. Coats will be evaluated in the current CNT fabric. End goal is to outfit the Class of 2015 Females graduating from the US Naval Academy in a Choker Coat Uniform consisting of a Coat and Slack or Skirt (TBD) .

2.0 Size Prediction Process Females will be issued a Choker coat and either a skirt or slack for the May 2015 graduation. The standard cover that was previously issued to the Midshipmen will be worn with the choker uniform. During the week of 17 Nov a team of professionals from NCTRF will be onsite to measure and try on coats to accurately predict the correct sizes. An associate from the USMC Uniform team will be present at the size prediction session as well. In the event that you have applied to be accepted into the USMC you will be predicted into both the USN and USMC choker uniform.

In an effort to expedite the process please arrive at the site:

- Wearing a T-Shirt under you uniform. As part of the process you will be required to take off your uniform shirt.
- With your sizes of the SDB Coat, Skirt and Slack examples of the sizes 12 MR , 10 JP - the sizes are on the tags inside your uniforms

The process will be as follows:

a. Report at the scheduled time and fill out an information sheet
b. Remove your uniform shirt
c. Fitters will take your measurements
d. Try on sample coats for fit assessment (USN and USMC if applicable )
e. Put shirt back on and exit the issue site

The time to complete the above process is estimated to be 10-15 mins (this does not include a wait time - we have 2 teams)
Again, why the big drive for gender neutrality? Women are different, and that is OK. Not inferior, just different. I thought we were supposed to embrace our differences and find strength in our yada yada yada. But no, instead, we mindlessly throw a male uniform on them.

Let's go back to what could have been done to help modernize the larger Fleet issues with female uniforms - instead of ruining the visuals for graduation. We, yes we, could have used the opportunity to find better fitting and better feeling working uniforms. 

Some ideas that have come my way; 
- Slim down female summer whites tops, so women are not fighting against their shirts bunching. 
- Put pockets in our working uniform pants. 
- Change the fabric of male and female SDB's.
- Oh, and the 1950s are calling, they would like pants 4 inches above the belly button style back. 

Our young female leaders are better, and deserve better than this. 

Want to know what a small number of people working through their personal issues from the '70s, '80s and '90s looks like on the back of women born in the first Clinton Administration? Well ... here you go.

In the larger sense - this is one avoidable shadow on what should be and will be a great day for the Class of 2015 later this month. My advice, have the serenity to know there is nothing you can do about it. Handle it with grace, and move along. In the end, it really does not matter for the Sailors and Marines you will soon lead. 

For both men and women of '15; well done and ... get to work.

1 comment:

Hạ Thu said...

Thanks for sharing! nice post!

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- Hiện nay trên thị trường có nhiều loại may dua vong tu dong cho em bé, máy đưa võng tự động An Thái Sơn nhận thấy máy đưa võng tự động TS – sản phẩm may dua vong tự động thiết kế dành riêng cho em bé, có chất lượng rất tốt, hoạt động êm, ổn định sức đưa đều, không giật cục, và tuyệt đối an toàn cho trẻ, đảm bảo trẻ ngủ thật ngon giấc.

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