Mills: Stopping Ripping Your Men to Shreds

Listen up ladies: stop ripping your men to shreds, especially in public!

This is a huge, huge pet peeve of mine. I cannot stand to see a woman publicly berate, humiliate, degrade, insult, and dominate her man. Of course, I would never approve of the opposite happening either. I think this type of behavior of one human to their supposed “loved one” is completely unacceptable, no matter what the gender makeup. 

The interesting thing is that I never see women being treated like this in public. Nope, never. Most of our society accepts that this is not allowed. It is not considered socially acceptable to see a man verbally abuse his wife like this in public and just walk away. It is considered a form of abuse and simply is not tolerated. So why are women allowed to openly abuse their husbands? In fact, I would go so far as to say it is not just tolerated, it is encouraged!  This, right here, is the point that makes me the most sick about it. Modern women tout “girl power” and “women can,” etc.  Sure, our gender can be powerful.  We can run businesses and our lives quite well.  We can even be phenomenal at things that are typically considered “man’s work,” like all the amazing female firefighters I know.  But degrading our husbands does not make our gender more powerful.  On the other hand, it shows a weakness in a person’s ability to problem solve and cooperate. 

I bring this up now because my family and I recently returned from Firehouse Expo in Baltimore. It was incredibly fun and inspirational on a whole new level to be there, as a fire wife, and to be a part of everything. My husband and I also had the privilege of going to Firehouse World in San Diego back in February too. That trip was amazing. It was a whirlwind trip, but it was a completely kid-free couple of days where everything we did was fire-related fun.

It was that trip to San Diego for Firehouse World, where this gender bullying really got under my skin. Since I wasn’t focused on herding the kids from one place to another I had more relaxed time to just observe things. In the airport on the way there, we ended up in line with Bill Murray. Pretty cool guy. No Ghost Busting was necessary. He was just casual, chatty and polite as could be, as were all the other travelers waiting in the TSA line bright and early that morning. Once we left our small Southern airport though, the manners were gone. It was as if we stepped out in Atlanta to a society inoculated with a mean gene. As we passed one gate, I saw a woman standing there yelling at her husband about the inconvenience of the airport for changing their boarding gate. I gave the woman the benefit of the doubt because she was frustrated and maybe she was venting to him, rather than yelling at him. We continued on our journey.  At the food court area, I watched another woman roll her eyes until I thought her head would spin around from the effort.  She gave an obnoxiously loud sigh and snatched the food and napkins from the order window while mumbling about her husband and how, “he never does anything right!”  All of this, while her husband stood behind her, timidly saying, “I thought that’s what you said you wanted…maybe I heard wrong.”

While at Firehouse World, the fire wives I met there were awesome, thank goodness!  They were incredibly supportive of their husbands.  These ladies seemed to embrace all that it means to be in love and be an encouraging spouse.  They were a beacon of shining light in the muddle of disparate views that trip. 

Again on the way home though, we came across the same situations. One woman stood fighting with the airline associate, and I mean spitfire fighting. This woman was nearly frothing at the mouth she was so worked up. When her husband tried to intervene and speak with the associate, his wife turned her dagger eyes and steely rage on him.  She lit into him like no one’s business and cussed him up one side and down the other.  As I looked around at the other travelers, I noticed that most everyone tried to politely look the other way while this happened. I guess I’m a jerk because I stood there, open-mouthed and disbelieving. I walked away asking my husband, “Did you see that!?  Can you believe the way she’s treating her husband?!  Not to mention the fact that he’s standing there taking it?”  Traveling can be stressful, I get that.  It can be chaotic and frustrating and fray a person’s very last nerve.  But when has it become acceptable to take out these frustrations on others, especially “loved ones,” in public?  In my opinion, it simply is NOT acceptable on any level.

The wives I met in Baltimore at Firehouse Expo were very supportive of their husbands, just like at Firehouse World. Thank goodness Firehouse draws such a wonderfully encouraging group of fire wives to these events. For example, my family and I left a day early and drove like mad (although quite legally and safe at all times) to be able to make it in time for the keynote speaker, Dr. David Griffin. Luckily, we made it 30 seconds before he was introduced. We stood along the wall in a crowded room because everyone else wanted to listen to him, too.  It was a great turnout!  What I didn’t know at the time was that the lovely woman standing further up along the same wall was his wife, Melissa. She was there, standing strong, listening to him speak and supporting him in everything she did, from running their booth to ironing his clothes to a crispy perfection to simply being there for him to turn to for any reason. We also got to meet Billy Goldfeder and speak with his beautiful wife and even see their children and grandbaby.  Again, a very caring wife and family.  Another wife I didn’t get to meet, but heard about was Chris King’s wife, from King Ceiling Props. She could not be at Firehouse Expo, but her “dumb truckie” (his words, not mine) husband from Chicago has invented a brilliant ceiling training prop and sunk their family’s Disney trip money into making it into a business so other firefighters can train well and return home safely to their families at the end of each shift too.  It wasn’t necessarily her favorite plan to go without the Disney trip, but it is her support of her husband’s dreams that will hopefully make the difference for this family’s future endeavors.  These wives, and countless others I didn’t get to meet but heard about from their bragging husbands, are just the kind of supportive wives I love to meet at Firehouse events.

So I ask you ladies, if you tend to see yourself more on the fighting side of what I’ve written about here, make a change.  If you have a disagreement or an issue with your spouse, take it home with you.  Don’t stand in public and humiliate yourselves, each other, and possibly your children by making a huge scene.  I would even ask that you don’t make that scene at home either.  How difficult is it to treat each other with an ounce of respect?  Even in the privacy of my own imagination, I couldn’t fathom slinging these public outburst phrases and words at my husband.  This kind of behavior is a weapon.  I know many women are proud of their finely honed skills and weapons, but why?  When did it become a badge of honor to be able to yell the loudest or launch the most shameful insult at your husband?  When did it become the popular thing to use your words like a shiv for marital death?  I think this whole trend is incredibly disturbing.  It saddens me to know it happens.  It angers me when I see it.  It is demasculinating the men of our society.  Quite honestly, it disappoints me to see them cower and allow themselves to be bullied and take it like whipped puppies.  I definitely don’t want them to lash out and fight back, because as I’ve already stated, this would be considered abuse if the men were to treat the women this way.  Well I consider it abuse for the women to treat the men this way too.  And just as I would expect a woman to walk away from an abusive man, I think more men should stand up against this treatment and walk away from abusive women.  If more men did this, maybe it would change the tide of popularity.  Maybe it would all of a sudden be less popular for women to publicly berate their men.  Maybe more lonely women would lead to a more balanced sense of mutual respect between the genders. 

Perhaps some of you think I’m just way off base here, but I stand behind my viewpoint.  I decided to love, honor, cherish and respect my husband years ago.  I’ve never achieved perfection, but I give it a damn good try every chance I get.  Because of his shift schedule, sometimes I go days without ever having the opportunity to show him either love or hate.  So why, when given the chance to finally see him, touch him, be with him again…why would I choose to hurt him with my words or my actions?  I won’t. Even if I disagree with him, we will work it out, in private, without verbally slashing each other to pieces.

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