Army Spouse or Army Wife – What Am I?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

To be honest, I have been having an internal debate about this question since the Spring. And as we head in to this particular time of year, my mental discussions have become more frequent. You see it is spouse club sign up season, and I am seriously questioning whether to rejoin my local club.
It all started in May, when this group was voting on a measure to change from a “Wives” club to a “Spouses” club. Arguments were heard for and against the name change, with the against side affirming their stance that “Wives” could still include everyone in our ever more diverse military spouse population.  And despite my vote for a name change, the “Wives” had it.

But while this group may have the best of inclusion intentions, names do matter. Because ladies, would you feel comfortable joining an “Army Guys Club”?

It is 2014, and there are many male military spouses standing alongside us. I have had a chance to meet and work with many of these individuals who want to find a place in the “Army Wife” world. Even our friend Jacey Eckhart of SpouseBuzz recognized that we (ladies) often overlook our male military spouse brothers in a recent blog post. Guys have a lot to offer and a fresh perspective, but I can’t imagine that a “Wives Club” or “Ladies Night” or “Mom’s Day Out” would seem very welcoming to them.

We are also being joined by same sex spouses who know a lot about the power words have to exclude and marginalize. At a time when we should be opening doors, something as simple as a name can block the way.

I remember attending the AUSA Family Forums a few years ago and how proud the founders of an online support organization targeted toward Army wives were when they announced that they would never change their name to something more inclusive. The audience (mostly women) cheered. And in my opinion, we were wrong then and it’s still wrong today. Why? Because I believe in the motto, “One Mission, One Team.” Our Army works better for all of us when we eliminate all the things that could divide us and embrace being members of an organization that values all its diverse parts.

From now on, I will proudly proclaim my status as an Army Spouse. And as a proud Army Spouse, I will join my Wives Club.  I figure it will be better to rejoin and work again on the name change from the inside. Anyone want to join me at the Spouse table?

I would love to know how the Firing Line readers feel about this issue. Wives Club or Spouse Club? Army Spouse or Army Wife? Does it matter?