That's what you're reading right now. My car rant...or at least a blogged-up version of one of them, anyway.
My skin totally crawls when married, heterosexual couples refer to their spouse as their partner. It drives me crazy. Say spouse. Say husband. Say wife. But please, please stop saying partner.
I know that many of you reading this right now do call your husbands and wives partners. This isn't a swipe at you personally. I'm not annoyed with you, my dear friends. I'm annoyed that this whole "straight people calling their spouses, to whom they are legally wedded, 'partners'" is even a thing. It drive me bonkers.
"But Em," you're saying, "You're a crazy, bleeding heart, died-in-the-wool-liberal! You're supposed to be into all this inclusive, PC, let's-never-never-not-ever-offend-anyone stuff."
I know. I am a crazy, bleeding heart, died-in-the-wool-liberal. Guilty as charged. And proud of it!
Here's the thing...I am usually pretty darn supportive of all sorts of things that might be derided as "politically correct." I have all sorts of appreciation and respect for communities of folks talking about what terms or symbols (or whatever) are most representative of who they feel they are as a group. And I don't mean this in regard to trite labels or narrow constructions of diverse communities. None of my previous objections have anything to do with not supporting the idea that what we call people (or what people call themselves) or how we portray people (or how people portray themselves) influences how we all think about one another. It does. I couldn't agree with you more. It totally does.
To that end, when heterosexual couples refer to one another as "partners," I appreciate what they're trying to do. They're tipping their hats to ideas of marriage equality. They're distancing themselves from antiquated gender roles. They're creating a more inclusive space for honoring a diverse range of committed relationships. They're probably doing all sorts of other things too. Great. I'm supportive of all that.
But here's what troubles me:
I feel like married, straight people calling one another "partner" actually ends up mucking up a space we'd created for gay couples in committed relationships (or even straight couples who have chosen not to marry) that are not legally recognized in our country. It makes me feel like in an attempt to show support, we've actually ended up co-opting and cheapening something that actually meant something to another group of people.
|515 privileges...515 discriminatory laws|
Finally, I think using the word partner as a substitute for a legally recognized relationship actually muffles the importance of why we need to fight for marriage equality. Not some other type of relationship status. When I spend time with the wonderful folks at Minnesotans United for All Families, we're not fighting for "partnerships." We're fighting for marriage. The people who work there, the people who volunteer, the people who donate...we're doing this so people can be married. We're saying that separate is not equal. No one is fighting for civil unions. No one is fighting for a "marriage-like" institution. We're fighting for marriage...we're fighting so all Minnesotans who want to make a commitment to the person they love most are considered equal under the law. As we often remind ourselves, and the people with whom we are having conversations, "There is just no substitute for marriage."
|What are you doing?|
How are you helping?
You use the word partner because you want to demonstrate that you value marriage equality. Fine. But how about you do something that actually makes a difference? Go ahead and call your spouse your partner...but every time you use the word "partner" in public, put a quarter in a jar...or a dollar, if you've got it. And at the end of the month, add up all those quarters or dollars and send them to your favorite LGBTQ organization. Send them to the organization that is fighting for marriage equality in your state.
Move past symbolic acts. Put your time and money where your values are. Because those are the things we need to do to actually make a difference. That's how we effect change.
Anyway. That's how I feel about all of that.
How do you feel? Why do you call your better half whatever you call them? Am I way off base about this? Tell me what you think. Agree. Disagree. I want to hear it all...