19
Sep
09

Traditions, Customs and Army ‘Wives’

When I returned to blogging, I promised myself to be honest and let the words flow.  I will have to be honest with you, Good Reader, that I have not been so honest.  For the past year there has been an event scheduled on my post to launch this month that has me troubled.  Why?  It troubles me because it excludes me based solely on my gender.  That is why!  I love being a military spouse and there is nothing that I would do to endanger that or to sully the reputation of those that have come before me.

I realize that many of the traditions, custom and courtesies that are observed by us [military spouses] now were founded and tempered by prior military spouses trying to bring civility into a world that is violent and at times, lonely.  I honor people like Martha Washington, who sacrificed months of their lives just to see their husbands on leave.  I admire the women who were the real Rosie the Riveters in their era.  Their husbands went off to war and someone HAD to work in the factory.  They put on pants, which was unheard of, and went to work.  That took courage!  They are a role model for any spouse, male or female, about the depths of love, sacrifice and dedication.  They stepped off a precipice into a world that did not welcome them wholeheartedly, yet they entered that world.

I am not comparing myself to these champions.  I am far from them, but in the end I feel like they did I am sure; unsure of my place in a world that is not always so welcoming.  Now, I have had some pleasant experiences as a Military Spouse.  Far more than the number of unpleasant ones and that has been a driving influence behind this blog.  It was the fact that I, as a man, have had a great time being a military spouse.

Do I think women deserve a conference?  Sure!  So do men.  Now, some could say that this is merely an event for women, not a “spouses” conference that just uses archaic terminology.  I call that statement on the carpet.  They have an almost similar “class” schedule as last year’s Spouse Conference.  Also, the key note speaker, Tanya Biank, lends a bit more credence to my point.  In case you didn’t know, Mrs. Biank, a military spouse herself is the author if the famous “Army Wives” which is the inspiration for the popular TV show of the same name.  In case you haven’t seen the show, there is a maletary spouse there as well.

Now, some would say that I am upset about my exclusion.  I am not.  I am more upset that each time someone says, “Army Wife” or holds a “Women’s Conference” instead of a Spouses Conference you insult women.  You insult that nurse who served in the Civil War.  You insult that communications specialist who is out, away from a FOB, travelling down the road with that convoy.  You insult the sacrifice of women who have perished in combat.  You insult those women who have fought to be equal with men in every single way and they are.  I tell my young daughter that there is NOTHING that she is not capable of doing; all that stands in her way is her own willingness to see it done.  So when you hear someone say “Army Wife”, correct them and say spouse.  Not because you will make me feel better, or honor me.  You are honoring Rosie the Riveter, Martha Washington and every Military Spouse who came before.  You honor every woman who fought for suffrage and further equal rights.  You honor every woman who has served in the military, because they are equal.  Celebrate with joy, the military SPOUSE, because it only shows that women have made their way and that it is now becoming acceptable for me, the maletary spouse to exist.  Remember that every upstanding female soldier that you see serving might have a maletary spouse at home.

With Regards,

Jeremy

12
Sep
09

September 12th, 2001

Before I get the swarms of comments and emails correcting me, yes I know it is September 12th, 2009.  The reason why I titled it that will become readily apparent soon, but let me tell you a bit of a story told from a different perspective.  Insert your own narrator’s voice, as needed.

“Once, not so long ago, I had just moved into a new community.  As the new person in the town, I already felt like an outsider.  I didn’t know anyone in the community, but I had always been taught to make an effort.  I got an invitation to a local party.  Now, the wording on the cover of the invite didn’t particularly invite me, but it was an open social event, so I thought and I was bound and determined to get out.  I remember getting driven to the house and dropped off at the front door.  As I stepped out of the car, signed proclaimed that this wasn’t for my group, but to be honest, I wanted to meet anyone, so I thought I would try.  I walked up the walkway, awkwardly holding a hostess gift.  I rang the bell and the hostess came to the door.  When she spotted me at the door, she immediately began looking around for someone more appropriate as a guest.  Not seeing anyone, she reluctantly let me in and I began to receive the looks that I always seem to draw.  ‘Why are they here?’  The party games that started were fun, but the gifts given were another sign that I was different.  There were some nice people at the party, but you could see that their husbands would be hesitant with them hanging out with ‘my kind’, so they were timidly friendly at best.  When their husbands came, they were equally cold, not really understanding why I was there.  As my ride arrived, I rode home, doggedly determined that I would fit in and learn to be part of the world that I found myself.  I even wrote a thank you note to the hostess’ surprise.”

Now, a game I play with my daughter when I read her stories.  What time period do you think this story came out of:

A) 1860’s

B) 1960’s

C) 2000’s

Well, if you guessed 1960’s, you are absolutely incorrect.  It is a modern story and it’s an adaptation of my first party as a male military spouse.  I have since made many fabulous military spouse friends, but I still encounter that attitude frequently.  Everything from a military commander telling my FRG that “the ladies can stay here and talk” to an “Army Wives” conference have been thrown my way.  Now are male spouses not culpable?  Oh by no means, no.  Many of us are guilty, because we refuse to get involved with the deep traditions that are rooted in the world of the military spouse.  Now, why do I reference September 12th, 2001?  Do you know what strikes me most to this day about that whole day?  Barrier vanished.

Quite simply, it didn’t matter your class, your culture, education, gender, race, ethnicity, speech or otherwise.  There were no barriers.  We were Americans.  I would love to reach that point with the military spouse community.  No, I don’t want a homogenized mixture.  I enjoy the differences in the military community.  I think we can celebrate those differences, cherish them, and yet still reach united goals.  I look forward to working with many of you to reach those goals.  Remember, I may be a male military spouse, but through it all I am still a military spouse.

With Regards,

Jeremy




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