Who you calling “dependent?”

There is a word that has come to my attention recently that I just don’t understand. It’s meant to be humiliating and degrading. It’s meant to represent a segment of the military community that should be ashamed of who they are and what they do. It is meant to be a big joke among those who have decided they are better than others. I am speaking of the term “dependapotamus.”

A quick Google search gives even more validity to the word. It even shows a definition. According to urbandictionary.com (I know, not exactly an authority) a dependapotamus is traditionally a service-members dependent who is a “stay at home mom” that doesn’t do a damn thing all day besides sitting on the couch looking remarkably similar to jabba the hut leaching off of military benefits and eating anything that gets too close.

It’s a pretty straightforward definition, and one that I bet is accurate to describe some segment of military spouses. Personally, I haven’t run into wives like this during the 13 years I have been involved with the Army, but perhaps because they are just staying home, hiding. I’m not sure, and what the people who do live like this do is not really my concern. It’s their life, however they choose to live it, who am I to judge.

Nope, the reason why I decided to take to the blogosphere and talk about this issue is because there are several Facebook pages dedicated to calling out and flat out making fun of these types of wives. In looking over their pages they go even further in their analysis of what makes a “dependa” as the term is also know by. They steal pictures from other pages to make their points, even taking questions and comments from random spouses to show how “dependa spouses” are nothing more than a drain on the Soldiers and the military community.

First, let me say that I certainly respect their right to free speech. If they believe some spouses are not worth their marriage certificate they have a right to say so. For the most part, the sites are not calling out certain individuals, but rather are pointing out the culture of those they believe to be the wrongdoers. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen around the globe are defending the right for them to believe and say whatever they want, regardless of the hurt they cause. So, hurt on, it’s your Constitutional right.

However, my question is why? As Mr. Army Wife, I am often baffled by the cattiness of women toward one another. Do men have issues with each other? Sure, but we usually solve our issues one on one, or by totally and completely ignoring the other person. I can’t remember a time when I felt the need to call out a whole segment of my community because I felt they weren’t living their life right. It’s just strange to me.

Last week there was an article online about how these websites have been defined by some as bullying. Some spouses, who are stay at home moms, feel personally attacked by the vindictive attitude with which the owners of the Facebook pages have level their attacks. In one case a spouse’s comment from a spouse support page was posted and ridiculed. Those in opposition to these pages say there is no recourse of punishment for the behavior and so they are left hurt and humiliated. I get it. It’s never good to be the butt of another persons’ negative behavior. My question is why?

Why are pages like this necessary? Why do some feel the need to tear down others? Why do any of us have the right to feel like we are somehow better than someone else simply because they are doing what it is that we believe they should be doing? Look, I am about as close to the definition above as a military spouse can get. I am a stay at home husband with no kids. I am fat and have been known to eat a lot. I watch a lot more TV than I should. And yes, I am dependent. I am dependent on my wife for the salary that she brings home. I am dependent on her for the roof over my head and the groceries in my cupboard. She is the provider of gasoline for my car and insurance for my things. Without her I would be broke, homeless and without prospects. I am dependent, probably more than most spouses’ think is ok in this day and age. However, I don’t think that way. I am proud to be her dependent. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You see, while I am totally dependent on her, I also know that she is dependent on me. Does she need my money? HA! Does she need me to help her with her Army job? Not really. Does she need me pass her PT test for her? I hope not. But she does NEED me, every bit as much as I need her. She needs me to watch her babies (dogs and cats) while she is deployed. She needs me to cook her delicious, healthy meals. She needs me to keep up with the laundry, and the dusting, and the vacuuming. Could she do these things aside from her military job? Sure, but I could also get a job and new house and my own gasoline. However, then we wouldn’t have a marriage.

Oh, now I am going to touch a nerve. I can hear people rising up now. “Husbands and wives shouldn’t have to be dependent on one another for ANYTHING.” “This is not the stone age, where the wife need a man.” “Anything I need, I can get for myself.” I hear you, settle down, and I agree with you for the most part. I can get my needs taken care of all by myself. I am capable of all of that, but to me, a real marriage requires dependence on the other person. It requires that I sacrifice the selfish need to do it all by myself in order to let another person help. I am dependent on her and she on me, because without that dependence we would just be a guy and girl, not a husband and wife.

But, I digress, this isn’t a post about marriage, it’s a post about spouses and why some feel the need to attack others. Still, even after sitting here typing for the last hour, I am clueless. The only thing I can come up with is that these attacks somehow fill someone’s need for something. Is it their own insecurities? Is it their belief that belittling someone else makes them somehow the bigger person? Is it a need to expose what they believe is wrong with the world? I’m not sure. Personally, I just think there is enough negativity in the world. There’s enough negativity in the military community. We don’t need to pile it on. So what if someone isn’t the type of military spouse, or the type of person you think they should be. It’s not your life. It’s not your concern. It’s not even your business.

Personally, I have been Mr. Army Wife for almost 9 years now, and I hadn’t heard about these Facebook groups until some other spouses pointed their existence out to me. I have been to these pages once, and see that they do have a significant number of followers, but other than that I just don’t see why they are appealing. To me, they aren’t worth the time, and if they don’t have my time, they don’t have my attention. Whatever!

The fact is that if I am their definition of a “dependa” that isn’t going to change. It isn’t going to change their opinion of me, and it isn’t going to change my opinion of myself. It isn’t going to change my opinion of other spouses either. You can label someone all you want, but until you meet them and spend time with them on a real level, you don’t know who they are or what they stand for. You are judging without facts in evidence. I am sure that’s how you would like to be judged too.

Nope, I think I will stick to seeing the military spouses I know as people who have good times and bad, who deal with this lifestyle in ways different than I, and who have issues of their own. I choose to view them in a positive light until such a time as they show me that they don’t want that light in their lives. Then I will just let them be. Being mean just to prove a point really only proves one thing…it proves that you believe you are better than someone else. You’re not. You have one life just like everyone else. Do with it what you will, but remember that one-day you will be dependent on someone for something. Chances are you already are. I hope no one dreams up a word that then defines you.

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