Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Snob city... the imaginary chain of command among spouses...

So, I'm hanging out on Facebook again and talking among others in our military community here in Stuttgart.  One lady said that she is the wife of a GS civilian and this was the first time she ever had the opportunity to hang around military wives.  She said that one wife of a military police officer told her that she wasn't supposed to hang around certain other wives because her husband outranked their husbands.  She asked if this was actually a "thing".

I confirmed that it is a thing for some people.  Sadly, there is a lot of snobbery in the military, not just among people who serve, but also their families.  I think the attitude is much more pervasive on military installations than off of them, though.  For one thing, throughout history, the housing areas on installations were segregated by rank.  Officers tended to get the better housing, which was paid for by their higher housing allowance (BAH).  Naturally, when you live among people, you tend to socialize with them.  Or at least that's how it was before social media.

I am not totally sure, but I think the housing segregation had to do with the chain of command.  A person who is enlisted might not want to live next door to his or her boss, whom he would be expected to salute, call Sir or Ma'am, and show other "courtesies" to.  Of course, this is a condition that doesn't necessarily exist outside of the military, unless you happen to be part of a group where that kind of hierarchy exists.  So, I think that might be where the non-fraternization attitudes between officers and enlisted people come from.  It's basically snobbery, especially when it doesn't involve the people who are actually serving in the military.

When I lived on a military post, I didn't really hang out with other wives.  I had one friend who was the wife of a guy who, at the time, had the same rank as my husband did.  On the night my husband deployed, she took me to a colonel's house to play Bunco.  There were women of all stripes there, wives of enlisted guys and officer's wives, as well as women who were themselves serving.  It was a nice gathering, though not one I necessarily saw that often.  To be honest, though, I didn't really fit in with most of the wives anyway, so that was the only time I played Bunco.  I did, at least, win a Polish pottery plate.  Wish I'd brought it with me.

I find that there is a lot of snobbery among officer's wives, but there's also a lot of snobbery in military circles in general.  I mean, I've gotten a lot of grief for the title of this blog from military people.  People have accused me of "bragging" about being "educated" while, at the same time, they say that the wives should make something of themselves.  I got an education so I could support myself, then married into a situation which would have made using my education difficult if not pretty much impossible.  So I am a stay at home wife who writes a blog.  Maybe I should have come up with a different name for my blog, but that was what inspired me at the time.  I'm not changing the name of my blog just because some people don't get it.

I have also found that expressing a differing opinion among certain wives invites a hailstorm of criticism and nastiness, which makes me not want to hang around with them.  Maybe that makes me a snob.  I try to be nice to people regardless, but I have found that a lot of people have a chip on their shoulders and take offense to things when none is actually intended.  There is a definite "hive" mentality among military types, though, no matter what group you happen to fall into.  Like, a few years ago, I blogged about an encounter I had online with some people who quickly assumed I was a "dependa" because I don't like the term "dependent".  I got hammered by a bunch of women who took offense to the idea that I don't want to be thought of as a dependent.  They thought I was being a snob, but really, I was embracing the idea that I'm a person outside of being Bill's wife.  And I'm an adult who doesn't like to be called "dependent", even if I am, in fact, dependent.

Of course, you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't sometimes when it comes to certain military folks.  They say that "dependas" sit at home and do nothing all day.  But then, if you do go out and get educated or launch a career and have the least amount of pride over your accomplishment, they accuse you of being a snob or bragging.  Some of the folks in that community will look down on you for working while others look down on you for not working.  So it's hard to win.  I mean, if you sit in the corner and don't say much, maybe you can win.  But you also probably won't know anyone.  I find that military folks can be very critical, especially of women with leadership skills.

Here's another example.  In our local community, there is a Facebook group that, until recently, was the go to group for information about local happenings.  It was led by a woman.  I personally never had any run ins with her, but other people did and she was made fun of a lot.  She went on vacation for Columbus Day and while she was gone, one of the women she left in charge went crazy and started banning and deleting people left and right.  When the head honcho lady came back, she locked down the Facebook group in an attempt to settle things down.  The damage was already done, though, and there was a bit of a mutiny.  People still kind of make fun of this lady because she's sort of an alpha bitch.  But, if you think about it, she clearly has leadership skills.  I don't know if she has a job-- a lot of spouses in Germany don't, because you can't really work here unless you work on one of the installations.  So, instead of sitting on her ass eating bon bons, she runs a large Facebook community.

I could sit on my ass and do nothing, but instead I write blogs.  Sometimes people like them and find them useful.  Sometimes people think I'm full of shit.  But you can't say I don't do anything with my time.  Maybe some people would say that writing on the Internet is not a good or productive use of my time, but who are they to judge?  Hell, at the end of the day, I'm just me and I do what works.



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