Though a definition to partner includes the idea of two people undertaking any amount of actions, the word can be found littered across business to sport, from dance to relationships, in all instances it does have that cooperative feel but within the realm of romance I get the feeling that now, well for the last 10 – 15 years ( I’m working to the prehistoric scale here), it has taken on a role much like Ms did before it. Exploring Ms /miz/ we find ourselves delving into the feminist world, and the struggle within it, as with PC (political correctness not personal computer), to redefine somebody without attaching a stigma. Miss was very much unmarried, Mrs married, but Ms allowed for ambiguity, of which an advantage may be gained where people would be of the tendency to discriminate on the first two titles. Employers come to mind.
Well for me the word partner cropped up more and more often as the nineties grew older with people perhaps finding themselves victims of discrimination if their marital status or sexuality was to become public knowledge. In a world too often dominated by conservative values unmarried couples with children and same sex marriages were, and let’s be honest, still are frowned upon even in more liberal socities. Whereas the latter group have highlighted this point through their reception at Gay Pride marches, the former too finds itself getting the short end of the stick when it comes to basic legislation. A former student of mine, on hearing that my girlfriend was expecting, actually advised me to get married if I wanted to avoid the reams of paper work which would most certainly be incurred. I didn’t listen to her and needless to say in hindsight it was the worst thing I could have done.
I, personally, still use girlfriend when referring to my partner as we are unmarried but sometimes wonder as to the juvenility of that. Some of my friends have even suggested that girlfriend seems less commital, though these people also reside in the married domain and therefore may be begging the question.
Occasionally I have to wonder as to a person’s sexuality if they mention their ‘partner’ but allow time and further information to raise me from my ignorance. Now ‘girlfriend’ as sometimes used by my female students to refer to their friends who are girls still manages to draw a giggle. Boys will be boys!
On the whole whether you use partner, wife, lover, girlfriend, spouse it makes no difference for love by its nature renders the inane tolerable, and by inane I mean any debate on titles! Careful now!