Gendered Words

Posted by – July 8, 2009

We don’t use the words “husband” or “wife” because they’re gendered, but we don’t generally use “spouse” because it seems too clinical, or legal, & yet I wonder if it lacks warmth precisely because it’s not gendered.

4 Comments on Gendered Words

  1. Véronique says:

    Sometimes I use “spouse,” but I agree that it just doesn’t sound great. I don’t know why. Most of the time I use “partner,” because my sweetie and I are partners in our lives. “Partner” is also code, most often, for “same-sex partner,” which is of course what I’m trying to convey. But “partner” does not say that we are married, and we are, something I’m proud of and don’t wish to hide.

    I know lesbian couples who refer to each other as “my wife.” I don’t use that any more, probably out of fear that I might then be perceived as “her husband.” My spouse once called me her wife when she introduced me to someone, and I was surprised and pleased, so maybe I should just get over my fear.

  2. VivaZoya says:

    I struggle with this on a daily basis. I mostly use ‘spouse’, which I’m getting used to. She prefers ‘partner’ because she wants to be seen as part of a same-sex couple, but I, too, want my marriage recognized. Ah well. I imagine we’ll be dealing with this for years to come.

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  4. Sonia says:

    And English is high on the gender neutral level. Ever tried Spanish ? (or any other Latin language, for that matter), all nouns are gendered.
    Spouse becomes “Esposo” or “Esposa”, with the o/a denoting the gender….
    Friend becomes “Amigo” or “Amiga”

    Person stays neutral.. “Persona” is still gender neutral. But you’re not going to call that your life- partner.. are you ?

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