PC Culture

Op Ed: Use ‘Partner’ Instead of ‘Boyfriend’ or ‘Girlfriend’ to Be ‘Politically Correct’

A couple holds hands on Valentines Day on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, February 14, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
Simply giving something a different name doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the exact same thing that it was before you changed that name.

According to a piece in the Daily O, people should stop using the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” to refer to their significant others and use the word “partner” instead — because that’s “politically correct.”

“The term ‘partner’ — with its gender-neutral connotation — is politically correct and socially appropriate,” Saonli Hazra writes in a piece titled “Why it is time to move from the conventional ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ and switch to ‘partner’ instead.”

“With the growth of the Internet, and a transformation in the social order where casual dating, open relationships, delayed marriages and other such practices are finding favour, terms like ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ have a certain undesirable vibe,” she continues. “Mostly, these set limitations of gender roles — of what each partner ought to bring at the relationship table.”

“Partner,” she argues “has a nice, positive ring to it, and neither party feels the suffocating or debilitating pressure of trying to live up to certain preset notions.”

“‘Wife’ or ‘girlfriend’ usually come with patriarchal riders, and therefore, a women’s status within the marriage is often unequal,” she explains.

According to Hazra, the term “partner” “ensures political correctness and has the potential to take forward the culture of tolerance where the freedom of self-expression and justice towards those who are different and/or disenfranchised are upheld.”

Sorry — but this is stupid. I’m all for tolerance and love and understanding, but I am 100 percent sure that choosing to call your boyfriend your “partner” instead of your “boyfriend” is going to do absolutely nothing to change the world. Why? Because it changes absolutely nothing even at the micro level. Simply giving something a different name doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the exact same thing that it was before you changed that name. Calling your female significant other your “partner” instead of your “girlfriend” doesn’t mean she’s suddenly not your female significant other anymore; it just means you’re calling her something else.

What’s more, I completely reject the idea that the word “girlfriend” places any sort of “patriarchal” pressure on a woman who is referred to that way. I know this because, in every relationship that I’ve ever been in, my partner has referred to me as his “girlfriend” — and I still didn’t do things like cook dinner or clean his apartment or any of the other tasks that you’d probably associate with a stereotypical female partner. I didn’t feel oppressed by the word, and I certainly didn’t feel oppression that would have been somehow lifted had my boyfriend and I simply called each other “partner” instead.

Of course, this is not to say that the word “partner” has no use at all. Some people, such as those who identify outside of the gender binary, for example, prefer to use this word — so it’s great that it’s there for them to use. Forcing it on everyone, however, benefits absolutely no one. People in relationships should just be able to choose to label each other with whatever innocuous term they feel most comfortable with without having to worry about being accused of promoting intolerance over it.

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