Feminist and ‘dependent’

As featured in Army and You….

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Before joining the bubble of military life, I would have argued  that feminism and dependency couldn’t co-exist; happily marry together shall we say. Shamefully, and might I say naively, before meeting the HB, as a self-confessed feminist I would have described the military wife in such reductive terms as ‘subservient and reliant’. Genuinely believing they sacrificed their, and their families happiness to allow their husband to charge around the globe in full military garb, camo cream and all. In my defence look up ‘dependent’ in the dictionary and synonyms such as ‘reliant, hanger-on’ and even ‘parasite’ abound. Boy, was I wrong, and in this case, so is the bloody dictionary.

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It’s true, I think, that the role of a Military Wife does involve sacrifice, and indeed putting your own happiness aside at times, but what’s the alternative? It infuriates me when ‘civilian’ friends and family simply say ‘ well, you knew what you were getting into’. Yes, I knew the love of my life, father to my children, would spend periods of time away, but does that make it any easier? No. Is it a comfort when you’re doing the school run in your pajamas, tearing your hair out because the baby won’t sleep and you’ve still got to make a papier-mâché volcano by tomorrow? No. Does it make answering your pre-teenage sons questions about ‘wet dreams?’ without being able to snap ‘ask your dad’ any less toe-curling? No.

The military wife, I’ve found is; has to be, stronger than almost any other woman I know. They are the glue that holds the family together under difficult, sometimes oppressive circumstances. They are the lynchpin; never has the phrase ‘behind every great man is a great woman’ been more apt. In a world where your husband can be deployed for months at a time, sometimes with just five days notice, it is the ‘reliant, hanger-on’ that has to step up to the bar, be both mum and dad, cook, cleaner, teacher, taxi driver, laundress, sports coach, technology police, all whilst keeping a smile on her face, trying desperately not to rant a one-woman, exorcist-style, crazy resentful monologue at the HB. Because yes, of course resentment is felt, yet we still do it, and if rising to the challenge doesn’t a feminist make, I don’t know what does.

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Does it annoy the hell out of me having to put my husbands name as ‘head of household’ on every form (and there are a lot of them) yes, it does. Does it annoy me that I’m labelled as a ‘dependent’ yes, it does. But every military wife, and I think, every military husband knows that the term couldn’t be further from the truth, being a military wife means being more independent and capable at times than you ever thought you could be. Feminist and ‘dependent’? you betcha

 

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