Thanks to Sean Lennon, of all people, recently bringing the subject back into the limelight, the way in which people refer to their significant others has become a buzz-worthy topic again (as we were all momentarily distracted by the apocalypse long enough to forget about politically correct modes of how to refer to someone or something). As it happened, Lennon remarked via Twitter seemingly apropos of nothing on Cinco de Mayo, “When did it become woke to say ‘my partner’? I mean it’s the least sexy moniker I can think of. It’s as if you’re working together at a law firm. I’d rather be called ‘my bitch.’” But perhaps the subject of how to refer to one’s “bitch” has come up again thanks to the requisite quarantine that has forced many couples in different degrees of a relationship into hiding with one another. With such meme trends as “Will you be my quarantine?” also adding to the pantheon of ways to refer to someone you bone on the regular, it’s no wonder that “partner” might be dredged up again as a means with which to “grossly” refer to someone you’re “in a situationship” with.
Barring the fact that “partner” does seem like a word John Lennon might have used to refer to Yoko considering his own obsession with “wokeness” at the end of the 60s and throughout the 70s, the legend’s son makes a valid case for why the clinical nature of “partner” should be avoided at all costs. Not only does it smack of the overly PC 90s lesbian tinge that Ross’ ex-wife Carol used on Susan in Friends, but it also completely sucks the romance and ardor entirely out of a dynamic that’s supposed to be replete with such nouns.
Of course, if one is cordoned off from the rest of society with just one person–as has been sweepingly the case thanks to corona–maybe “partner” starts to feel more viable. Partner in binge watching, partner in cooking lackluster cuisine, partner in grocery shopping, etc. With all the “mystery” drained out of any previously “torrid affair” thanks to being saddled with the same person twenty-four hours a day, why not just succumb to the use of a term as antiseptic as the era we now live in? Then again, if we let language devolve with such a blasé attitude, institutions like the Académie française might actually let COVID-19 be referred to with a masculine article.