So the other day I was perusing through Facebook and I came across this article on Military Spouse Magazine. At first I was like, “Heck yea! Way to stomp on those milspouse stereotypes!” But as she continued though the article, a few things struck me: 1. That the author, Erin Whitehead, didn’t think those stereotypes should exist at all; 2. That a spouse’s general character and appearance doesn’t affect the service member; and 3. The term “dependasaurus.”
Now, I may be the minority here but I think stereotypes exist for a reason: enough people in a given population exhibit particular characteristics that allow others to generalize certain things about that group. In fact, Military Spouse Magazine posted this article today in response to the original article saying that “rip the Band-Aid of [those] stereotypes the hell off.” I don’t actually agree with this. There are certain milspouses, both men and women, who do exhibit these stereotypes. THAT’S WHY THEY EXIST. So I don’t think the problem is the stereotype itself. Obviously enough people have exhibited these traits that those outside (and inside) the milspouse community are able to say, “ALL military spouses are: fat, lazy, unmotivated, marry for the money, pop out a million kids….you fill in the blank. I think the problem is that we, as a milspouse community, are giving people reason to stereotype us in the first place.
Now, I’m not saying that we need to wake up with our hair done, makeup perfect, and in a dress and heels. I’m not saying we should have 2.5 kids each, work outside the home, workout every day, and handle everything perfectly when our husband steps on that plane or ship to leave us for months at a time. I’m not saying that every milspouse everywhere has to change her life to be the perfect image of a “wife,” whatever that may be, to battle those outsiders (or insiders) who think we are a bunch of freeloaders throwing Thirty-One parties and drinking wine on our husband’s dime while our kids are at the base CDC. No, no, and no.
Image courtesy of sodahead.com
I do, however, believe that as a milspouse, you do incur certain responsibilities that spouses of accountants or marketing project managers or whatever don’t have to deal with. Yes, you are a representation of your service member spouse. Maybe it’s because we do so many “regular” things on base, like grocery shopping and LIVING that our spouses are always “at work.” And/or maybe it’s because so much of the military career is focused on the family in that each command is asked to take a personal interest in their service member’s family issues. I mean, seriously, what other job out there does the boss “counsel” you if you are having issues in your home? In what other career does your spouse’s boss get a report on his desk if the police are called to your home? So no, I don’t agree with Ms. Whitehead that our appearance doesn’t reflect on our husbands.
But before you go all Nancy Kerrigan on me, understand this- I’m not talking about physical appearance like weight as in the article. I’m talking about showing up to a unit function in sweatpants looking like you just rolled out of bed. Hey, we all have bad days, I get it. Ive gone to the commissary looking like sh*t because my daughter didn’t sleep and my husband is deployed. Or just because I didn’t feel like getting myself together. But when you show up to something like a family day or pre-deployment brief looking like you don’t care and cussing a storm at your kids, the command is going to look at that as a reflection of your husband. Again, I’m not saying you need to dress to the damn nines, but put on some jeans for goodness sake.
Now, I’ve been a milspouse for about 5 years. My SIL has been a milspouse for ten years. I have met countless other milspouses over this time. Some have kids, some don’t. Some work outside the home, some work from home (I count stay-at-home parents in this category!), some don’t work. Some are officer spouses, some are enlisted. Some workout every day, some don’t work out ever. Some eat all organic, some eat out all the time. Some become extra motivated when their husbands are deployed, some just want to sit and do nothing until he comes home. Every.single.spouse I have met is different than the next one. Her life (I’ve never met a male milspouse) is complicated, fun, scary, and amazing. But I know every single one of them like they are my sisters because I am one of them.
But this…this boiled my nerves.
Image courtesy (I don’t think that’s quite the right word) of Marine Wife Burn Book Guide: How Not to Be a Dependasaurus. There is seriously a Facebook page for this crap?
I heard the term “Dependasaurus” for the first time in Ms. Whitehead’s article. According to urbandictionary.com, a dependasaurus is defined as:
A gossipy, loud mouthed, jobless woman who is a dependent of her unhappily married husband. They often target unsuspecting military members to be their paycheck, I mean husband. Once they have married them, they immediatly take credit for all things that their spouse has accomplished. “We’ve been in the military for blank years..”, “We’ll be promoted next month”, “We’ve been to Iraq twice.” They enjoy driving their minivans or company car around with their husband’s position title on the windshield because they command the same respect that their husbands get. You can find them congregrated at Pampered Chef parties, where they feed off the hostess, I mean food that the hostess prepares.. The Dependasaurus is much like a cackling hen, always sitting on their ever growing ass, talking about anyone and everyones business, while their husband stays late at work so he doesn’t have to come home to another McDinner nite, cuz the wife he bought 5 years earlier has morphed into a waste of carbon who’s let herself go, doesn’t do anything but spend his money, neglect his kids, sit on her ass all day and uses the common excuse of not knowing how to cook to avoid making some kind of nutritious meal for the family. Dependasauruses come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, the majority of them are large beasts, however a growing number of them are starting out smaller. No matter how small they are before they get married, this is just a clever ploy to attract dumb shallow men, and Dependasauruses always quickly return to their natural form of unattractiveness and selfishness. Key identification features of the Dependasaurus include: gold necklace with their name in Arabic with a cotton t-shirts paired with jean shorts a Coach purse and a blue tooth or cell phone attached to their ear, 5 starving children clothed in rags from Ross or any other thrift store trailing behind her, they have an inability of controlling the volume of their voice when talking about money or medical issues so that Us little people can hear them. Dependasauruses usually travel in large packs, I mean clicks of other Dependasauruses.
Seriously? We, military spouses, came up with a term like this FOR EACH OTHER? Excuse my language (or don’t) but what the hell is that bullshit? Dudes, I get it- there are women out there that marry for the benefits, that go all limp when their husbands leave, that wear their husband’s rank, or that commit adultery. But I wouldn’t call that person a “dependasaurus” or as one of my readers recently heard it “a dependaho.” No, I’d just call that A SHITTY PERSON.
I know that these types spouses exist, because they exist everywhere and not just in the military. But contrary to (apparently) popular belief, most milspouses are highly motivated and driven women who not only love their husbands and children (all 5 of them hanging off the cart, obvi) but they also love their country enough to have a polygamist marriage with *enter branch here.*
But like I said, I know stereotypes exist for a reason. But as a community, why are we pointing fingers at those few, and yes I mean few, spouses that make us all look bad? Why are we giving a name to that group? All it does is bring attention to those bad apples in our classic American apple pie and promotes the stereotypes that we all loathe. Seriously, cover that crap up with whipped cream and get over it. Those dependasauruses aren’t worth the name you give to them.
Image courtesy of Google Images
And let’s try to remember that maybe, justttt maybe, that chick you see walking though the PX in her husband’s pt gear with her screaming toddler in the cart and crying baby on her hip isn’t a dependasuarus. Maybe her kids are crying because she won’t give them that toy and she’s actually sticking to her guns instead if giving in. Maybe she was on the phone all night with her husband’s command because he is being transported to Germany, then Walter Reed “if all goes ok.” Maybe she’s just had a flipping bad day. So instead of judging her, be a REAL milspouse and buy her a damn coffee. Or tell her you’ve been there. Or just give her a smile of encouragement. Because every person has a life you know nothing about, but as a fellow milspouse, you’ve probably been in her shoes a time or two. So be kind, and knock it off with this dependasuarus crap.