We were recently bantering on a different thread and a couple of terms popped up in conversation. Some of the people using the terms thought nothing of it, like calling girls high school football, "powder puff football", made the bruises, cracked ribs and lost fingernails hurt any less, or the win loss records any less meaningful than the boys teams records.
No, "split tailed" Marines and "Wide Ass(ed)" Marine's (WAMs) and Broad ass(ed) Marines (BAMs) are derogatory internal acronyms of the Corps and some of the other services for female Marines. Prior to 1978 they were still getting ridiculous training and being taught tea party, white glove, etiquette, as if all they could ever be was military secretaries and 'escorts'. In boot camp as recruits they had been required to learn the manual of arms used at the time, disassembling their carbines and putting them back together, the same as the male recruits. Inspection was the same for both genders. Some learned how to do it blindfolded. But female recruits were never taken to the firing range. Prior to January 1978, according to the Marine Corps, women Marines were only qualified and required to report to the rifle range if their jobs demanded that they be armed in any way. Because of her size, my wife, LT, was originally given pistol training and assigned to the female brig and prisoner transfer, but not given any rifle training, known as the KD course.
When Marine Corps Air Wings were mandated to be integrated, she was assigned to an air wing as an electronics tech after C school in Mississippi. Upon assignment to H&MS 26, LT was issued a rifle and told it would be inspected often as part of the regular inspections. Still no training. After reporting to her squadron and butting heads with her NCO who didn't want a woman in his shop, LT settled into a routine, working the shop during the day and a pizzeria at night to make ends meet. She bought a new car with her enlistment bonus. Every spare moment was spent playing softball. When they discovered how good she was, LT was put on her unit's team with the men and eventually their All Star team playing other bases. Life was grand. But not equal.
All the men routinely got time to PT and re qualify on the rifle range. The women Marines did not. My wife, LT, is not shy; she started a movement to demand equal time & training. Amused, the unit NCO's convinced their superiors they could squash this once and for all time. Several NCOs took it quite seriously and although they doubted women could ever get it, they volunteered to train the women on their own time. In boot camp as recruits they had been required to learn about the Carbines used at the time disassemble them and put them back together, the same as the male recruits, so they had the basic knowledge.
10 women Marines were trained up by 2 experienced rifle range coaches. Nine of the ten Marines qualified; one expert (LT), one sharpshooter and seven marksmen. Everyone impressed the coaches, especially LT who not only fired expert but did so left handed on a weapon designed for a right handed person. In other words the spent shells and exhaust gasses hit her in the face with every round fired. She scored a 226, to the chagrin of the Command, in front of a lot of military and civilian press. One small step for mankind, one giant leap forward for female Marines. Several Marines officers and NCOs lost some bets that day. Not surprisingly, the rifle training was not mandated for all Marines equally until several years later.
And the rest as they say is history? No, they are still considered less than real Marines, just not as derisively as 30 years ago, still room for improvement, but we are battling the American male psyche; not an easy task.
My wife went back into the service as a Navy Nurse Corps Officer in 1989. She made sure she served in Beaufort,SC at the Naval Hospital, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Depot for one tour which was extended once. Many a Marine did a double take at her rack. Yes, she cut a mean figure in any uniform, but her rack of ribbons. Well you just don't expect Pistol Sharpshooter and Rifle Expert or Marine Corps Commendations on the Navy Nurse Corps Officer taking care of your critically ill new born. While in the Navy she strongly encouraged every female corpsman and female Nurse Corps Officer to qualify on the pistol range. One can never be too prepared for life in the military. She retired at 20 years.
When our daughter insisted on joining an armed service to do her part, we made sure she went into the Air Force.