I've mentioned "Campfollowing" before. I'm almost halfway through this one and have enjoyed it so far. It's a pretty thorough history of military wives and their involvement with their husbands and what not. Did you know there were a whole slew of wives who joined their husbands on the battlefield during the Revolutionary and Civil wars? I remember talk of Molly Pitcher and all but didn't realize she was married to someone serving. There are so many more then that as well! There is a tone in this book that makes a person a little embarrassed to be the wife of an enlisted man. For generations the wives of these men would find employment as laundresses and even some men would be hired as officers servants in their off hours. I thought that it was just the history that was making me feel sadly for these women but then I picked up reading another book by the same authors. I didn't realize this was the case until just last night. I'm about 2 chapters into "Uncle Same's Brides" and have found myself deeply offended by something written inside at least 4 times already. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it all the way through this book. I should preface this with saying that there is still quite a separation between officer and enlisted for the purpose of professionalism as well as to keep order when they are out in the field. This is meant to be for the military members, not the wives. Wives do often keep these distinctions, though, since it is just easier. Hard to be friends with a wife but not to be able to hang out as two couples together when the husbands are home. All of that said, there is a basic assumption in this book that all enlisted wives wish they were officer's wives. It could not be farther from the truth.
This book was written in 1990. Most of what I've read so far is so completely out of date that it might as well have been written in 1950. Base housing, health care, and wives clubs have all changed drastically since this time, I guess. I feel like I could go on and on supporting my feelings about this book but I think it would probably be redundant at this point. All said and done, I'm left hoping that the attitudes of Officer's wives these days are far different then those of these authors. I'll part with two quotes that I found particularly interesting:
Most officers and their wives are as aloof to enlisted society as royalty might be to their servants.I really really hope that things are seen differently today because I think it's safe to say that enlisted wives are fine being where we are in the military heirarchy and enjoy the society here quite well, thank you very much.
As one colonel's wife remarked, "Even if an extremely bright, gifted, college-educated woman from the civilian upper classes should elect to marry an enlisted, that's her mistake. Unless her husband promotes to officer rank, she is condemned to a life in the military outside of the officer's superior social hierarchy."