Anyone’s Business: Synonyms for Spouse

by:  In Our Words Staff

lesbian-wedding-cake-topper

Welcome to Anyone’s Business, an article made by you.  A question is posed and you can comment your thoughts on the issues at hand.  Be respectful, be mindful, but don’t hesitate to let your voice be heard.

This week’s question:

Similar to it’s choice to no longer use the term homophobia, The Associated Press will refer to same gendered spouses as  partners, even if they refer to themselves as husbands or wives. This will not be extended to different gendered or heterosexual couples.  Should we be celebrating that more gender inclusive language is being used, as a knock at patriarchy and heterosexism; or is this actually heterosexism, highlighting the difference between the relationships, making partners not a neutralizer but a code for a certain type of couple?   

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5 responses to “Anyone’s Business: Synonyms for Spouse

  1. Spouses are spouses. The media should use the same term, whatever they choose, for ALL couples. Personally I like partner, partially because it takes out the history of ownership and unequal power in marriage and highlights the “togetherness” of the couple. However, I totally understand those who want to use the monikers husband and wife for male identified and female identified partners.

  2. I think words like spouse and wife or husband are just too vague. I think people should say “this is the person I occasionally have sex with (or have intimate interactions with, if you’re in a relationship where sex really doesn’t happen)”

  3. To me, “partner” is very othering, unless that is what the persons in the couple call each other. If they call each other “husband” or “wife”, then in my opinion, they are spouses. To me, the increasing number of nouns, acronyms, etc are indicative of a higher level of tolerance; using distinctly different language depending on the gender/s of the couple is rude and dismissive.

  4. I’m all for good ol’ self identification. Liberation is totally tied up with people getting to say who they are, what their relationships are, etc. etc. Words are a huge part of that. I get to define my identity and I get to choose the words I use to do that. Anything else is people colonizing my identity, plain and simple. (Of course, partner is a really, really wonderful term, and if the AP were doing this for all couples, I’d bake them a big gay cake shaped like Canada, where apparently everyone uses partner to refer to their boos/spouses/honeys/husbands, regardless of gender).

  5. Myself and my partner refer to each other as ‘partner’. I hate it when someone refers to me as his ‘wife’ (we’re not married) and I’m not exactly delighted when someone refers to him as my ‘boyfriend’. As a lesbian in a relationship with a trans man I feel that words designating our relationship as heterosexual erode my identity. I especially dislike the term ‘wife’ as it has too much sexist baggage attached.

    On the other hand I realise that many couples, same sex or otherwise, like to refer to their wife or husband and I respect their decision to do so. I feel that where a preference is known, it’s only polite to follow that. What AP is doing is singling out same sex couples and using a particular term for them which it is not doing for different sex couples. It’s hard to see this as anything other than heterosexism. In an ideal world we would use the same words for everyone and the gender/sex of your partner would be irrelevant.

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