What the Hell is a Dependapotamus? The MilSpouse Wars
A hello to all the Reddit people in the, well, you know which thread! I don’t think you’re going to hell as indicated, but I do think perhaps some of you need to re-evaluate how you spend your free time. Food for thought!
Until this week I never knew terms like terms tag chaser and dependapotamus existed. I was on a milspouse page and actually had to ask what they meant. Upon further looking around on Facebook and the internet I also learned of terms such as “dependaho” (you can imagine) and “dependabag”. For those who aren’t in the know, a tag chaser is a woman who apparently targets men in the military who will be deployed in order to gain power of attorney and access to his direct deposits and benefits from the military. A dependapotamus is a woman who marries into the military, has multiple children, doesn’t work and lets herself go – that’s putting it mildly.
I’m *gasp* a milspouse with a career
My husband and I are “older” than most military families we happen to run across. We don’t live in military housing. We don’t have children living in our home and I have a great career all my own. The hubs was already in the military when we met and I have never been interested in a man for his money or benefits. I was taught to never rely on a man to support me and because of my mother’s lessons I can take care of myself. Those are *my* choices. If the expectation in your family is different and works for you, I respect that.
And I’m a Brat
Growing up on Air Force Bases I didn’t see what I’ve come to refer to as the milspouse wars. From a child’s perspective I knew officers and NCOs stuck to their own areas, sort of, but I would hang out with children of officers. My mom, an NCO wife, was friends with officer’s wives. It was just normal. In fact, officer’s wives were lovely people. We would have block parties, BBQ’s, go on field trips together and it was a seemingly very supportive community. You were a military wife, period. You supported your husband. There were negatives, but they were not excuses to lash out at others.
Always call your mother
So I called my mom. I told her all about this and she was just as shocked as I was. She pointed out that perhaps it is a generation thing. Women in that time stayed home with their kids. It was expected and praised. She also acknowledged that there have always been women after men – regardless of their occupation – for the wrong reasons. Now ain’t that the truth!? And now, we have the internet.To draw on personal experience, I joined an online military spouse community local to my area. I thought it would be a good way to get involved with the other wives. Sadly, there always seemed to be negative posts and uproars about name-calling or “gossip.” The administrator attempted to get together with the other wives, but this is a large area, we were spread out all over the county, some didn’t drive, some had small children and some worked so they couldn’t get out in the middle of their days to meet. It was irritating to others and they accused the women who couldn’t attend social outings of not making enough of an effort. With my own work responsibilities and travels, I didn’t make it to one event. After about a month, I left the page. I thought it was maybe an age thing because it got to the point I would just shake my head and not bother posting. Most of the women were in their early twenties and I am approaching forty. “Am I just getting old?” I asked myself.
I have been on base, too. I’ve seen the women who dress shockingly. I’ve seen more cleavage than I did at the Playboy Mansion! I have seen women walking around in crocs and pajama pants, hair clips holding up a sloppy pony-tail. I’ve seen children who looked like they were rolling in the mud before being pulled, screaming, into the NEX. Know what? I see that in airports, too. And malls. And civilian grocery stores. And the park. The list goes on and on…
Perhaps because so many military wives are encapsulated in this lifestyle, they don’t realize this is just as prevalent everywhere else. It is not just a military base or military wife thing.
But…As a military partner, I was taught you measure yourself by a different standard. Conduct, grooming, how your children behave – you are judged and your husband is most certainly observed in his choice of wife. That comes with the military life. It has always just been part of life. It never occurred to me that thought process might be wrong.
We all judge
Have I looked at women and thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, what if her husband’s LPO /CO/insert your acronym here saw her out like that?” Yes. I have.
Have I read Facebook posts, especially the political ones, so far from factual I feel sad that some of these women got married right out of high school, started having kids and didn’t give themselves an education? And I don’t just mean college. I mean an education about the world? Yep.
This doesn’t mean that I look like I am ready for the folds of a fashion magazine all of the time. It also doesn’t mean I don’t think plenty of people who started out young in their marriages can’t be educated and successful. It means the majority of what I am seeing these days is not indicative of how I personally want to be associated with the term “milspouse.”
Cut the shit
I’ve written this before elsewhere, and I will write it again. Women complain about not being able to get ahead, but we are harshest on each other. Have you seen the Who Wore it Better section of magazines? Or how about Whose Chest is Best? Yeah. Those things are real (no pun intended). Because society pits us against one another does not mean we have to take the bait. Most especially as military wives, I have to ask – aren’t we better than that? Hell yes we are! When will it stop?
I saw photos taken of unsuspecting women shopping in the commissary and posted on the internet without their knowledge or consent. It was appalling. I’ve seen name-calling. I’ve seen women perpetuating this idea that one branch is superior to all others, and not in the joking “ha ha” way. Example: Husbands of other women have been called stupid because they probably couldn’t make it into such and such branch. I’ve gotten the, “Oh your dad was Chair Force?” jokes. Believe me when I tell you they don’t go over well. Please say that to my father, a man who served three tours in Vietnam, was Pararescue, jumped out of helicopters to save lives and gave 28.5 years of his life to his country. Then come talk to me. Some would call me an overly sensitive milbrat and I am fine with that.
It goes on. Many wives pointing out the infamous women who pull rank because they want to live vicariously through their husband’s achievements. The pulling rank part? That’s not what pisses me off. What pisses me off is these women robbed themselves of the opportunity to make something of their lives they can own and be proud of. Their self-worth was invested not into themselves, but into this illusory idea they would become something because of what their husbands do. When will we encourage them to become more? When will the MILITARY encourage them? It’s enough to make one’s head spin.
Get a hobby or help if you need it
So for all the military wives (or for anyone) behind their computer screens engaged in any way with these cyber-bullying Facebook pages and websites: You are worth more than this. Your time is so much more valuable than calling out other women for their shortcomings. And your husband and his service to our country deserve more respect than that. Right or wrong, there is an expectation upon you to conduct yourself the way a military wife should. Cyber-bullying doesn’t make the cut. And anyone reading this knows it. Oh. And you may like to think so, but NONE of us are perfect – not even you.
Worry about yourself
Something tells me I haven’t seen it all, but I have seen and heard enough. I for one will proudly wear my anchors (within regulations), my Navy Wife shirts and madly Love my sailor. If you have any issue with it, that’s your problem and I would encourage you not to worry about what I or others choose to wear in an expression of pride for our servicemen. Some men and women wear sports jersey to support their teams. Somehow that is okay. I read the words of a woman on a social forum along the lines of “well, there’s no comparison.” She was right. There isn’t. A man who protects a ball is not comparable to a man who protects his country. Period.If you see something just a bit out of control, have your thoughts and move on. We’re human, but there are much bigger fish to fry. When did we stop being in this together?
Right now, I feel like I’m on the periphery outside looking into the world of other milspouses. I’m not part of the “in” online crowd. I don’t personally know many women who are married to servicemen (those I do know have been stationed elsewhere) so I mostly identify on the surface with the following: volunteer, dog lover, reptile lover, wine and cheese lover, career woman, lover of books, lover of travel and a little OCD.
As I continue to navigate military life now which sometimes contrasts the way it was when I was a kid, let me be clear here:
Above it all I am a wife. Yes, a proud military wife (translation: woman married to a man in the military).
That’s my priority. And my priorities are damn straight. What about yours? Postscript: If it’s getting on Reddit to bash people, I have your answer. Advice: Don’t be an asshole.