You know, I’m not often disappointed in APW. It happens occasionally, but not often.

Today, though, I am.

I know that sentiment may be unpopular, but hear me out.

In today’s post we have a woman who has trouble with calling her partner “husband”.* For her, the word invokes the old stereotypical husband and wife roles, and she wants no part in it. No problem, that’s fair.

The problem I have is in the resolution of the issue. We just won’t use the word husband! See? Problem solved!

Except that the name of the damn site is RECLAIMING Wife. The intro flat-out says “we’ve talked a lot on APW about making, and not making, that word our own”. So, why are we reclaiming WIFE, but abandoning HUSBAND?

It just … cheapens the whole thing for me.  For all of the effort to really make “wife” into something we’re comfortable with and even proud of, we just throw away husband? Why is it any less worthy of reclaiming, reestablishing, reshaping into something worth keeping around?

To have the same women who comment so hard on making “wife” what they want it to be chiming in with “Yah! Me, too! What’s with that stupid word anyway?!” just irks me beyond belief.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but this whole “I’m only going to fight for it if it’s about ME” attitude really pisses me off.


* This is not a rant at the post author. She doesn’t like wife either, and that is totally fair. This rant is about everything else, NOT HER. Promise. =)

** File this under “Rawr Rawr Rawr, Get Off My Lawn!”

15 Comments to “Reclaiming”

  1. It’s hard to say really. Words describing the most intimate relationship are loaded for just about everyone and they’re loaded in different ways for everyone too.

    I guess on a second read through, I’m curious what she does call the man that she married. Does she call him “partner” or simply “Matt”? Will this change? I think she definitely meets the “Reclaiming Wife” idea by examining her relationship and making the concept of marriage work for her and her significant other. Putting a name to something means defining it in someway though, perhaps that’s what she’s trying to avoid…

    • Like I said, I’m not upset about her … though I did have the same questions you do. The issue I have is with Suzie (totally the first name that came to my head) saying “I’m making “wife” mean what I want it to mean! I’m taking it back!” and at the same time “Husband is so old fashioned and stereotypical. I don’t want to deal with it.”

      It seems to me it’s one or the other. Husband and wife go together. (As does husband and husband, and wife and wife!) It’s not take one, leave the other. At least not to me.

  2. i don’t know that the post suggested we drop the title. but the comments definitely did. but they always do when we’re talking about the word “wife” also, and especially when we’re talking about homosexual relationships. i have the same gut-response to that as you. if we want to enact real change, alter preconceptions about marriage, and fight for the equality of our friends- using the terms “husband” and “wife” appropriately are the best way to go about it.

  3. It’s really interesting to read your reaction to the post and the comments, because I too read all of it today with unease, but didn’t have the words for why. It just felt like the conversation seemed to be about completely the wrong thing. I was glad to see a few comments saying that we need to reclaim the words rather than abandon them, but far too many also quite eagerly ready to throw them away. Marriage itself has gotten a bad rap but that doesn’t mean we are ready to throw that away – we are here to make it ours.

  4. It is interesting, my girlfriends have been discussing this all day over on facebook, and not one of them can quite put words to why the entire post is not sitting well with them. They all agree however that something about it is slightly upsetting.
    I am not really sure how I feel about it either.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions and all, and she is welcome to call the man she married her partner, her husband, or a turnip if it pleases her and makes her more comfortable with how she or others view her and her relationship. Words only hold as much power as you let them hold, and changing the way other view you in relation to the word is not so much avoiding it, but showing people that their perception of the word is no longer valid.

    “Husband” and “Wife” simply, to me, are words that define us as married and nothing more. It does not make me little Suzy Homemaker because I am the wife and it doesn’t make him the big strong breadwinner because he is the husband. While I do most of the cooking and cleaning and he does most of the manual labor and does have a larger paycheck, it is not because these are the stereotypical roles we are supposed to embody due to our titles. It is just how it is. I have a bum back, I physically can’t do most of the manual labor. He is an utter slob so I have to do the cleaning.

    At the same time he is an amazing cook (having been a professional cook several times) and will clean with/for me anytime I ask. I brought all of the power tools into the relationship and have taught him how to build decks and tables and walls how to refinish furniture.

    I guess that is it. I don’t think you should not use the words. I think you should show others how you redefined it and made it your own. No it won’t work 100% of the time, and yes people might still profile you into certain stereotypes, but lets be honest, now days most people don’t see the term wife as a stay at home maid/cook/baby factory. Most modern wives hold down a day job, and there is an increasing number of non child bearing couples in the world, as well as stay at home husbands. The terms just mean you are married to me.

    I will stop rambling now.

    • When it comes down to my personal opinions on the terms, this is quite nearly exactly how I feel. When I read the title in my reader (“Do I Have to Call Him Husband?”) I snorted and thought “well, are you married to him?” Because I feel the same way you do … it’s just a definition of marital status.

      The rest … yes. And you’ve said it so much more eloquently than I could have!

  5. I agree with you about using and redefining the terms both ways. And of course in relationships today the “distribution of chores” tends to be more equal, and we work in partnership, so the words husband and wife do not really mean that you have to do a certain set of things. (Except for example I do love to cook and bake, but that is just coincidental I guess?)
    And maybe this is going to be off the subject, but I was talking with the boy about this , this evening, and turns out for both of us it is a bit weird to call each other “wife” and “husband” when we talk about each other to thirds (for example at work). As in “my wife. lalalala”.
    I guess we are just not used to it? I do not have anything against the words, and I don’t have any strong reactions against the cultural baggage of wife and husband as defined by the 50’s stereotypes because that is just not who we are. Also when we are among us sometimes he calls me wi-fi and I call him hubby or hubs. But it just seems very weird to use the terms for both of us and we don’t know why…

    • If it makes you feel any better, I do not feel “old enough” to have a husband, so it feels a little funny to say it to others. But he is my husband, so I do. And it’s getting easier for me. I know it’s harded for him, in terms of being a student, but he uses wife, too.

      Between ourselves, we hardly use it. Though I do tease him quite a bit about having a wife, and we joke around with the terms. But that’s because they’re aren’t culturally loaded for us, I think. We joke about the stereotypes, but don’t actually feel the terms define our relationship, beyond that we are, indeed, married.

  6. I never know if my approach using “partner” to fuck with people is actually positive or negative in terms of being an ally. I do like making people question their assumptions, but I don’t do it as a personal thing. I’m happy to take advice to be better.

    I guess I didn’t take away this feeling from the article. I also have no issue with people who walk around saying “hubs, husband, hubby, yay husband!” or my brother-in-law who says “Hey, wife! How was your day?” I personally am crazy re: gender roles right now. I also don’t necessarily have an issue with husband as much as wife, just a pre-disposition to use non-gendered terms. Weird, maybe there’s one word I have no baggage over!

  7. Just found you from clicking over from APW and am so thankful for your post and these comments! I read that post on Monday and it was one of the first times that I was actually irked by the comments on the site. When you say this, “Why is it any less worthy of reclaiming, reestablishing, reshaping into something worth keeping around?”. Exactly. I just didn’t know how to say what it was that was making me feel uneasy about the post, but this is it. So thank you for doing it for me!

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