The Frisky writes on “Why I’ll Never Call My Husband a Wusband” (tip: if you have to ask me for an explanation on this topic, I really don’t want to talk to you, anyway)
Carrie Sloan, a “brand-spanking newlywed” who writes that she and her husband are “re-writing the rules” of matrimony because — get this — she kept her own name! I hate to break it to her and ruin her self-image as a trendsetter, but it’s 2010. Keeping her own name is not a rule she wrote. If being self-righteous in the face of unoriginality were her biggest crime, I’d be willing to overlook it. Unfortunately, it’s not.Perhaps sensing that millions of women before her have also made the choice to keep their names, for a variety of reasons — some having nothing at all to do with feminism! — Sloan takes things one step further and proposes we abolish the words “husband” and “wife.” Why? Well, because Sloan is afraid of these words. In fact, she says her biggest fear about getting married last year was not any particular challenge or tribulation she and her spouse would surely face together one day, but simply the word “wife.” It “conjures up centuries of well-worn stereotypes,” stereotypes that were confirmed for her when, at Christmas this past year, she received “no fewer than three aprons as gifts.” Oh, the horror!! Nevermind that Sloan later says in her essay that she “likes to cook,” and her family and friends, perhaps knowing this detail about her, gifted her something they thought she might use and appreciate. No! In her mind, she received three aprons for Christmas because she’s a “wife” now, a role so loaded, so thick with centuries of sexism, Sloan has decided to start calling herself a “hife” instead — and if you’re a married woman, she wants you to call yourself a “hife,” as well.
A “hife,” you might have guessed, is a hybrid of “husband” and “wife,” and reflects what Sloan calls the “thoroughly-2010 relationship” she has with the guy she loves. She may like to cook, but she’s no traditional wife! In addition to keeping her own name (!), Sloan wants everyone to know she has “an inner husband who tends to drive at least double the legal speed limit and leave socks on the floor.” How’s that for propelling the women’s movement forward?! And for all her inner-husbandry, her actual husband as an inner wife, too. That’s right! He may be a “tall, handsome, manly-guy,” but he makes sure he and his “hife” have clean underwear. Naturally, Sloan calls him her “wusband.” “These labels,” she explains, “allow for a little overlap: A division of labor based on what we’re each best at, not just what’s assigned us by virtue of chromosome.”
I grew up in a pretty conservative and traditional family; my father worked and my mother either stayed home or worked part time. She did most of the housekeeping, my dad mowed the lawn and worked on cars (money was always tight, so this was needed a lot). My husband’s family was similar.
It never occurred to me that I would be expected to be like my mother, I’ve never been seriously expected to fulfill a “well-worn stereotype” as a wife, and I’ve never felt that I need to nourish my “inner-husband.” When I didn’t change my name (I did, but it was almost 8 year in), my husband never complained, nor did any other family members. When I decided to change it, I didn’t feel like any less of a person. When we (yes, when you’re married, a life-changing decision takes a “we” regardless of gender) decided that I would go to law school, no one told me that I should be home making babies instead. When we tell them that we plan for him to stay home while I bring in the bucks (although this looks less and less promising in the present economy for lawyers), no one tells us we’re wrong. We get either complements or expressions along the line of “I wish I could do that!” If he gets a hard time when I’m not around, he never lets on.
I’ll never understand why so many women want to pretend that they still live in the 1950s. I don’t. I don’t need to re-write the rules; they’ve already been re-written. I just live in them.
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