Stop the Mom-Shaming: Military Wives Need to Stick Together
Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone, and now military spouse and Babble blogger Jessie Knadler have joined the ranks of the mommy-shamed. And in a very painful, public way. The social-media bashing was immediate, viral, and hateful. Generally, I don’t read comments beneath online articles. Ever since an anonymous poster called an article I had written about sequestration “a chicken little fluff piece,” I’ve made it a point to avoid scrolling through that particular wasteland. I commend you for that.)
Other commenters took issue with Knadler’s statement that Fort Leavenworth doesn’t sound like a place she wants live: it sounds “hot and humid and stark.” I disagree with her on this point. My husband served in the Marine Corps for 20 years, and we spent a year at CGSC. It’s a lovely base, and our time in Leavenworth was wonderful. We rented a charming house that was just a short walk from the local library and the quaint downtown shops, restaurants, and coffee houses. But I can disagree with Knadler without having to tear her down in the process. She’s a fellow military spouse sharing her point of view, and yet we’re treating her as though she’s advocating violence or worse. Write a thoughtful response, or say nothing. Share it with a friend, or keep it to yourself. But let’s not engage in vicious attacks in the comment section, often called the “deep, dark underbelly” of the Internet. Only 1 percent of the population serves in the military; abandoning one another is simply not an option. Just recently, a friend told me she thought I was “hard core” because I had a baby while my husband was in Iraq. I didn’t argue with her. While these last years have been extraordinarily tough on military families, the one good thing that’s come out of this mess is a profound respect from the civilian community for what we have done and what we can do. But then along comes a spouse who pens a few hundred words about her decision not to accompany her spouse on a yearlong assignment, and instead of offering our support, we subject her to the digital equivalent of a public tar and feather. Of course people will disagree with each other; in fact, thoughtful discourse can be powerful and productive. We don’t need to hold hands all the time and hug when the credits roll. But we are at our best when we are not unraveling each other. We should want to perpetuate the message that military spouses are a community of women and men with not only shared experiences but shared values. “Not everyone is going on vacation.”
You never know what’s going on in someone’s life so let’s support, not shame. The more we stick together, the better chance we have of making it through the tough times. Blue Star Families is a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect, strengthen, and lead military families.