Imagine my shock and awe* when, mere days after that complete fucking trainwreck of an advice column on Spousebuzz, I'm once again hoodwinked into reading one of their posts...
And by gods, it's good.
No, not good. It's fucking right on. Like high-five-the-wall kinds of right on**. Like slam some Jäger and shout obscenities and light off dangerous pyrotechnics while drunk kind of right on***.
Bushatz reports on a complete fucktard of a journalist, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, and his assertion that we milfams live high on the hog with our "15 types of ketchup." No shit, he apparently counted how many different kinds of ketchup we have on the commissary shelf. Maybe (some of his other numbers are off, so who knows?). Because apparently this is a sign of how we are but piglets at the overburdened teats of the taxpayer sow. Oh, and our commissary prices are "near wholesale." Ummm. No. Unless Kroger's prices are near wholesale on about half of their products. Also, hello commissary fee.
ANYWAY. Bushatz reports on the fuckwittery and then points out that the discussion of whether America can afford to pay for service members' benefits isn't the issue. After all, discussion and debate is a good thing. The big issue is how journalist after journalist makes up numbers to support the idea that we're sucking America dry, and one after another they assume a voice of outrage and condescension. They imply that only the stupid and unemployable join up. They imply service members don't deserve pay equal to civilians and definitely don't deserve all these extra benefits because they're somehow less than.
Her post is totally right on, as I've mentioned, so grab some Jäger and go read it, and then come back and high five me digitally when you're done. Because she covers it all well, but I have something to add.
|Oh, #ketchupgate. You complete me.|
Journalists like to point out that America is war-weary. You know what, America? GET IN LINE. And don't mind the placeholders we've got in that line already since we're also manning another line. Milfams, you see, are war-weary on a second front: the constant attacks and exploitation led by the media while power- and attention-hungry congresscritters jump on the yiff pile.
Articles like that written by Chandresekaran are problematic because they are borne of and tend to aggravate the military-civilian divide. They pit us against the civilian world, portray us as having more than our share, and call for civilians to stand up and demand that our "excess" be tempered or removed entirely. The problem is twofold:
- These journalists and the readers to whom they issue this call to arms have no fucking clue what they're talking about. Journalists are getting the facts wrong, and their perspective completely lacks experience to inform them. We're certainly not asking our maids to vacuum the Porsche floorboards, and we're not chillaxing at the polo event with our houseboy at the ready to serve us champagne. Hell, some of us are barely able to cover the electric bill right now because deployment gremlins drained our savings when the car lost its starter two months ago. And we're really hoping Military One Source will cover another therapy session for our kid who's having night terrors now that Dad's left for Afghanistan for the fifth time. Meanwhile, we're waiting three weeks for an appointment with our PCM for that pesky pneumonia we can't shake.
- We are not responding appropriately. Today, I saw a call to action: send Chandresekaran a bottle of ketchup on National Ketchup Day (today) as a statement that we don't fucking appreciate his tone. I don't know if this is enough. It's a good start, and the awesome jokes running around the Twitters right now via #ketchupgate, @MilFamKetchup, and @LavishMilFam are bringing attention to both the ketchup inundation and the issue at hand. But really, shit like this isn't going to stop because the 1% is up in arms about The Man threatening to take our ketchup. It will only stop when there is understanding and real discussion. And that's not going to happen until journalists stop writing Schlockety McCornPoo and start investigating the military family experience.
BUT LET ME BE MOTHERFUCKING CLEAR. This reunion porn shit is NOT an investigation. It's exploitation of military families to increase ratings (because who doesn't love a good cry??), and meanwhile all you're doing is painting military life in happy cries and introductions to new babies and shocks to kids at school in front of the whole fucking 5 o'clock news audience plus interweb voyeurs****. That shit? Adds to the civilian-military divide because it simplifies the complex emotional, physical, psychological, and professional burdens and conflicts that fill the cracks between anchors aweigh and welcome home and anchors aweigh again.
A fair report, a fair national discussion, would look at the actual, real, factual numbers related to military personnel spending and would include actual, real, factual reporting on the experiences and the sacrifices milfams and service members make on a regular basis.
You know, the things that affect morale, readiness, and attrition. The things that must be offset with incentives in this wonderful capitalist society we live in. The things that, in the balance, don't look so bad when you see at least there's this program and that benefit, and also I get to serve my country and do some good when compared to the cushy civilian life with its roots and its stability and its better salaries and better hours and better benefits and its marked lack of IEDs and mines*****. Not to mention the improved opportunities for milspouses to have a fulfilling and potentially lucrative career s/he almost never can have when uprooted every two years.
In the end, it's all tied together. Milfams have an image problem. We're portrayed in endless videos of pride and love and reunion kisses and new babies and relief and joy...and then portrayed in endless articles as self-entitled harpies demanding All The Condiments. This is what I like to call exploitation. Every bit of it. It's time we snatched that shit back and took our due control of the national debate over what our spouses really have earned, what more we can expect to sacrifice, and what those sacrifices will mean for our country's ability to defend itself and to help allies and the oppressed.
So while we ship bottles of ketchup to the latest douchepuddle to wade into the Milfams Can Suck It debate, shall we also ship things to TV stations to encourage them to reconsider their approach to safe televising when it comes to reunion porn? Maybe...condoms?
* See what I did there?
** Because I work from home, and nobody is here to high five me.
*** I didn't actually. This time.
**** Note the other blogs listed at the top of this one. Feel Good? Fuzzy Feelings? See what they did there? They are using military families--exploiting military families--for ad money, and they're enticing civilians who want a nice feel-good moment. Result: civilians associate military with sadsauce deployments but ALL THE FEELS when the soldier returns home and NONE of the icky squicky reality in between.
***** Yes, I said better, and I fucking stand by my improved well-being from my higher salary, better access to inexpensive healthcare, and low cost of living when we geo-bached for my job.