That’s a question NY Times columnist (Lisa Belkin) wants to answer.
I posed the question to some of the mother / wife types that I know on Twitter and a very interesting conversation ensued. Jessica Gottlieb wrote a wonderful post in response to the article.
According to this NY Times columnist women don’t want to be called a wife anymore.
That is a pretty broad statement. Further, part of what is great about 2010 is that we are not contsrained to traditional notions and roles. But some, or many, still relish those traditional roles or have adapted more current ways of living those roles.
Belkin goes so far as to say that women prefer “partner” to wife. I think that is sad. There is a beauty in having a unique role. Whether it is husband, wife, child, parent or grandparent. It is important to know who we are, as opposed to giving everyone the same title. A wife just means a “female partner in a marriage”. What you do as a wife defines what wife means to you.
There is also something to be said for the fact that so many mothers / wives really identify as mothers. That is a good sign as far as parenting goes.
Using “partner” instead of “wife” makes the “female partner in a marriage” just another partner. Like a swim partner, or a business partner, or work-out partner, or ‘howdy partner’ partner, a female partner in marriage is nothing special. And it should be something special. We denote special things with special words. Wife is that special word.
That being said, there is an offensive way to use the word wife. You know those guys who say “the wife”? I think that is offensive. That objectifies the “female partner in a marriage” and that is not okay. I have never referred to my incredible wife as “the wife” and I cringe when another person refers to their wife as “the wife”.
If we can’t use the word wife properly, then I submit to Belkin, just go with the harmless, faceless, emotionless, “partner”. But if we appreciate the specialness of the word wife, use it and cherish it.