How liberalism and homosexualism have ruined the word “partner”

In response to the entry, “The tacky liberal West,” where I discussed Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and her “partner,” Tim Mathieson, Allissa writes:

The use of the word “partner” here strikes me as insidious. Muddling of language anyone?

Indeed it is insidious. Partner means, or used to mean, two people engaged together in some shared enterprise, or who are friends and are doing things together as a team. But now “partner” has become the quasi official term for two unmarried people—whether homosexual or heterosexual—who live together. And for the truly politically correct, “partner” is even the obligatory term for married persons, since it would “privilege” heterosexual married couples for them to be referred to as “husband” and “wife” while homosexual couples and unmarried heterosexual couples are deprived of those honored titles. Therefore, in the name of equality, husband and wife must be called partner and partner. And with the spread of homosexual “marriage,” this change is working itself into the law as well, as I have pointed out many times.

In any case, since the default meaning of “partner”—without a qualifying adjective such as “business” partner—is now two people living together in a sexual relationship, if a man now refers to another man as his partner, people will automatically take that to mean that they are a homosexual couple. The perfectly normal word partner has thus been made radioactive for normal (i.e. non-liberal) people. Even the old-fashioned American idiom of addressing someone in a friendly way as “partner,”—as in, “Hey, partner, how’s it going?”—will not be used any more.

I first heard “partner” used in the homosexual sense on a C-SPAN program in the ’90s. Brian Lamb was interviewing some author about his book. The guest referred to someone by name, and Lamb asked, “Who is that?”, and the guest said complacently, “My partner.” I thought, “Partner in what? Are they co-authors? Do they have a business together?” Then it dawned on me what he meant.

Like the takeover and ruin of the perfectly good word “gay” by the meaning “homosexual,” the perfectly good word “partner” has been taken over and ruined by the meaning “sexual partner.”

- end of initial entry -

Bill A. writes:

The loss of the word “gay” means that schoolchildren will no longer be able to learn Yeats’s “Lapis Lazuli.” Nor understand what Nietzsche meant by The Gay Science. And today, would Peter Frohlich have changed his name to Peter Gay?

Leonard K. writes:

I agree with you that the word gay has been irreparably damaged. But with partner, there is still some hope. There are still law firm partners, private medical office partners, and nobody assumes they have sexual relationships between them. It’s interesting that does list “a person with whom one shares an intimate relationship”, but only as option 2D.

LA replies:

As I’ve said, the word partner still has its normal and familiar meanings, if there is a qualifying adjective before it. My point was the default meaning of the word—the meaning of the word without a qualifying adjective—is now the sexual meaning.

LA continues:

Also, as I’ve previously argued, I believe that we should not accept the transformation of the word “gay,” but resist it. The word still has the meanings it has always had, and we should go on using it with those meanings.

Readers may have noticed that at VFR I never use “gay” in its current meaning, but use the word “homosexual” instead. If more people did the same, if all conservatives and traditionalists did the same, then there could be a conservative culture in which “homosexual” means homosexual, and “gay” means lighthearted.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 07, 2012 05:56 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):