"Tough Deary, you knew what you were getting yourself into."
I've not written on this in quite a while. It's past time to do so again.
In a private room, shielded from all outside observers, a police photographer's digital camera clicks away, taking pictures of the black and blue bruises that are ghastly decorations on the married woman's body. Evidence.
Down the hall, not far away, a female police officer takes a statement from another woman, wholly unrelated in any way to the first. This woman's husband has been degrading his wife with a series of insults. "You fat, ugly b*tch" are among the tamer insults she has withstood. Her husband has thrown dinners she's prepared for him against the walls, then ordered her to clean up the mess. Doors have been ripped from hinges and kitchen counters slammed with his clenched fists.
The officer inquires as to how long this has been going on? "About eight months," is the woman's sheepish reply.
(WARNING! The first sentence outside this parenthetical comment is naught but intended sarcasm, to make as dramatic a point as I can. Indeed, domestic violence, regardless how I loathe the first inclination of any assault on anyone's dignity or person, isn't even among my thoughts here. However, my point concerns an issue that is at least as horrific and disreputable and loathsome as any episode of violence that has ever been visited upon any woman.)
To the first and to the second victims above is sounded the same official response: "Well Deary, you knew what you were getting yourself into when you married the fellow."
I can well imagine, at this point, armies of women falling apoplectic in rage over just the callousness that inheres in such a notion. And they would be fully justified. The correct answer, of course, is that no they did not know, even if they may have suspected as much. They just did not know, and should not be expected to have known. In any event, no one would condemn them to having to further endure such outrages. Period.
But I now ask, how is that, while on the one hand we are readily prepared to excuse a physically and/or emotionally-psychologically battered spouse from a legal contract they freely entered into "for better or for worse," yet we expect those who have volunteered to serve in the Army or the Marines to "have known" what they were letting themselves in for?
For the record: Whether it's a long-term romantic relationship, a marriage, becoming a parent for the first time, or enlisting in the armed forces . . . no one, but no one has any idea what he or she is getting himself or herself into.
There exists a gnawing lapse in the consistency of our reasoning. On the one hand, we fall all over our social selves trying to be as empathetic and protective as we can of the one, yet on the other it's more a case of "buck up - you knew." In the former, it's a case of someone being the object of a little physical and verbal sniping (Again . . . SARCASM!) and the for the latter it's interminable, day-in-day-out, month-after-unending-month of unrelenting "fight-or flight" assaults on the person and his or her emotional and psychological being. For the former it's a society's criminal justice infrastructure raising a communal ire, screaming "HALT!" For the latter, it's get back in there for another four or five year-to-18-month tours, where the only permitted out is via either horrific physical mutilation, the consequence of combat, or a discharge loaded with negative baggage the soldier or marine will have to carry for perhaps the rest of his or her life.
In January of 1973, President Nixon terminated the draft and ushered in the all-volunteer military. At that moment he also terminated citizen involvement in the consequences of this country's military adventures. From that moment, citizen involvement was relegated to very safe and very removed from all peril cheerleading those who volunteered to serve: Disgusting in every way imaginable. Yellow looped "Support our troops" and Pray for our troops" ribbon decals on bumpers and the backs of trunks proliferated. Disgusting in every way imaginable.
Send 'em here, they volunteered. Send 'em there, they
volunteered. Now, send 'em again, they volunteered. Move 'em from
Divorce rates at an all-time high: tough, they volunteered.
Suicide rates at an all time high: tough, they volunteered.
Oh, we don't actually come right out and utter such profanities. That would be impolitic. But that's what we're doing, and our actions are speaking volumes. To this Infantry vet's (June 22, 1964 - June 21, 1967) way of thinking, the cause is irrelevant. If it's important enough for one member of our military to face death and physical and emotional and psychological dismemberment, it's important enough to involve everyone in the nation, or it's really just not that important.