What’s unfortunate about these linguistic implications is that I have been feeling lately like I’m starting to get the hang of this whole “wife” thing. I think I’m getting pretty good at it, particularly for one whose family model is far from ideal. But to say “I think I’m a good wife” feels demeaning, and that is deeply irritating to me, for reasons I don’t think I can even define for myself, let alone anyone else.
Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe I’m over-sensitive to the possible implications of words and phrases, but, for me, the phrases “good wife” or “bad wife” carry strong patriarchal and sexist overtones. The phrases “good husband” or “bad husband” do not, however; were I to hear a man referred to as being a “good husband”, I would think only that he must be kind, generous and considerate of his role as spouse and partner. The same cannot be said for the female equivalent phrases: I hear the implication of gender roles and a patriarchal bias regarding household hierarchy and submission versus dominance. And, obviously, I don’t like it. It turns me off, absolutely and completely, and I’m frustrated by the fact that the very word, “wife”, carries all this antiquated baggage with it; “spouse” does not, but I find that I am tired of constantly having to remove gendered terms from language simply due to historic usage. In the – granted, flawed – age in which we live, we should be past these associations.