I suppose I have mixed views on feminism. I’m all for women earning more and being the main breadwinner, standing on top of the world throwing dollar bills into the air (for narrative purpose only – alas we do not have the same effect with our pound coins) and laughing at our triumphant finale in life, yet I still expect men to open the door and pay for a first date, or whisk me around the globe sampling breakfasts of the world, Pretty Woman-esque. But whether through a need to remain independent and strong in my womanly side, or simply through negative connotations built around the dating world, I have developed a real issue with the word “boyfriend”.
Saying the word myself makes me feel instantly judged; hearing 8 year old girls show off about spending Valentines with their primary school ‘boyfriends’ seems a more accurate and acceptable usage than courting adults in the modern world. Whether you’ve just met and are keen to show off your new love to friends or foe alike, or you’ve been dating for years and are celebrating building your life with your one true love, the same term is used, creating a huge generalisation which I believe to be unfair on a relationship. I cannot offer a better term to use, and in a given circumstance I would too discuss any news of my “boyfriend” for the sake of ease. The parody pianist, Tim Minchin, has the same issue with the term of ‘wife’, shunning the possessiveness in replacement of the term ‘VELP’ – Vaginally Endowed Life Partner. The sense of ownership is certainly a concern of mine; I certainly don’t want to come across as a clingy and controlling over half, either to him or the outside world. These are traits far better saved from any romantic partner.
“I don’t particularly like the term ‘wife’ – although it could be worse; coming from Australia, people tend to call their wives their ‘missus’… but I think it implies ownership. If I ever introduce Sarah as “this is my wife”, I feel like I’m saying “This is Sarah who I own”… which I do, technically, when some years ago she sold her soul to me for a lifetime of double-entendres and cheese platters.” – Tim Minchin
The feelings of conservatism and a keenness to appear understated to my fellow friends is ultimately what makes me nervous about the term. Having been sat on the single shelf for the past few years, I’ve seen my teenage friends find themselves through various men, which has taken up many a coffee morning with relationship filled discussion. If I ever do bring up my beloved in conversation, fellow women don’t really seem to care, whether that’s through resentment or jealousy, or simply because they don’t care. I find it even stranger in conversation with women I barely know – my hairdresser and beautician are prime examples. While smalltalk is reluctantly made and gossip too easily shared, a simply “oh I’m just spending the weekend with my boyfriend” seems to allow an awkward mist to descend over the conversation. Although not through jealousy, or shame, I have no real reason as to why it concerns me as it does, except that perhaps, by keeping them as an unnamed entity, it’s difficult to make any further associations without delving into questions I too have no interest in finding out. If conversation started “just seeing a friend tonight”, it rounds off nicely – replace it with the B word, and I instantly feel the conversation willing to ask how long they’ve been together, what they do for a living, and other mundane basis as to a romantic life together. And before my friends all get upset – don’t be silly. Give them a name and their own life, and you’re free to bitch about them as much as you want (shamefully that’s all us ladies seem to want to discuss about our other halves.)
Nowadays, it’s not just the spoken word; if anything my trouble is intensified by the huge array of social media outlets upon which we can declare our everlasting love. Those that tweet “just out for dinner with le boyf” (my single biggest pet hate), or who tag every photo with “me and my love” make me sad; although I’m all for declaring love and being proud of those you have, the need to parade this across the internet seems to diminish the intimate nature of a relationship in the first place. I find it is these same people that seem so keen to indulge in the modern day horror that is “Facebook Official” – rather than sharing your exciting new love news with your nearest and dearest, its now expected to exhibit yourself for all to see, along with other daily highlights such as new jobs and significant windfalls. While my friends are desperate to see me FBO, stalking my pictures and new friendship additions, I do strongly believe in the idea that;
“The best sign of a healthy relationship is no sign of it on Facebook.”
Fellow ladies of love; share your intimidate moments, celebrate the joys of admiration, go fourth and populate – just don’t feel the need to shove it down others’ throats – that’s your boyfriend’s job.