Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Butcher and I were just commenting on this today, so I know it's not just me, but I find the word "partner," when used as a replacement for "husband," "wife," "spouse," "boyfriend," or "girlfriend," to be simply unnecessary and annoying. As Butcher put it, it's pretentious. Am I off-base here? 

Why does it bother me? Well, I can only sort of articulate it, but it bugs me when married people use it b/c they seem (in my mind, at least) to be saying, "Sophisticated me has contempt for this man-made system of union, and I refuse to buy into the arbitrary concepts of 'husband' and 'wife' which are limiting and socially constructed and, therefore, only for you dummies who are not so enlightened." 

But I want to be like, Hey, you're married, meaning despite whatever contempt you profess for the institution, you're a part of it. If you were so advanced, why did you GET married in the first place? 

A former professor of mine seemed to use "partner" in front of certain audiences - like large groups of people whose marital/partner (haha) status and political positions are not know - but in front of others - like me, who's married and calls Brad "my husband" - he would refer to the mother of his children as his "wife." If you're going to go the partner route, then, I say, you gotta go all the way. Waffling makes no sense whatsoever. 

As for why it irritates me as a "boy/girlfriend replacement," that's mainly b/c 
1.  Half the time people are trying to make their boy/girlfriend seem more significant than simply a boy/girlfriend. As in, I am mature and this is a serious relationhip - thus he is my partner

2.  The other half of the time, it's used to designate marriage replacement, as in, I actually do not buy into this man-made system of union, etc. etc. Which is all well and good, and I certainly understand the position. 

But seeing as I think that non-easily dissolvable unions are essential to the stability not just of the family (we see how well that's going these days) but of the society, I believe the answer is not in rejecting marriage but in rejecting the way it currently works and oppresses by being the change you want to see within this problematic institution

(All the feminist theory in the world isn't going to convince me that we need to go back to group partnering and communal child-rearing of the your-baby-is-my-baby-is-her-baby sort). 

I'm pretty sure gay people
couldn't marry in his day
When gay people use the term, it should be noted, I do not bristle. Since most of our country has neanderthal laws, gay men and lesbians who are in committed relationships are only allowed to be partners. As for using the term for a boy/girlfriend, it also makes sense to me given so many people's reactions to a man saying, "My boyfriend and I went to dinner the other night." Why should someone subject himself (or herself) to immediate judgment at the hands of ignorant oafs? 

Basically, I hate snootiness, and I've really never encountered a non-snooty heterosexual use of the term "partner" to designate a significant other. Climbing down off of soapbox . . . now-ish. :)

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