Bloke 1: “The boys are goin’ to the arey [RSL] to watch the footy. Ya keen?”
Bloke 2: “I’ll have to check with the missus”.
This type of exchange came to mind when we read an opinion piece in Saturday’s Newcastle Herald.
The article contended that calling a woman “my missus” was now code for “that person of lower status, over whom I have power and control and whose opinion matters less than mine”.
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“It’s patronisingly prehistoric,” the gender-neutral author wrote, adding that it was a slang term that’s “outdated”.
The author [we’re not sure if we can use the word ‘she’] wrote that “whether you find the word ‘missus’ harmless as used within your own relationship is beside the point, due to the way it has traditionally been spoken with reference to women”.
We found ourselves scratching our head at this one. How a person uses the term “my missus” in their own relationship, or in a social setting for that matter, can hardly be beside the point. Surely, it is the point.
No doubt, the term “my missus” is sometimes used in a chauvinistic way. But crikey, it’s not always used like that. In our circles, men aren’t running around using the word “missus” to put down their wives.
It’s common for blokes when asked whether they can meet for a get-together, to reply: “I’ll have to check with the missus”. Sometimes they say: “I’ll have to check with the boss”.
There’s affection, truth and sometimes humour in this. And, when you think about it, it’s actually giving power to women, not taking it away.
And geez Louise, just because a word is misused in some way doesn’t mean it should be banned from existence.
Let’s, just for a second or two, divert our eyes from the groupthink-afflicted social media feeds and dip into the literary canon. George Orwell’s 1984 does come to mind. Great book. The totalitarian state it depicts ain’t so great. The book portrays a miserable world in which language is controlled, grammar restricted and vocabulary limited. Freedom of thought, personal identity, self-expression and free will are curtailed. Citizens are locked up for “thoughtcrimes”. No one is allowed to call their wives “my missus”. That last bit isn’t true, but it feels like it could be.
Edgeworth’s Gary Lawless is also scratching his head at the narrowing boundaries of political correctness.
“I have read at least five articles in the newspapers over the last few weeks that deal with this,” Gary said, adding that “the world has gone PC-mad”.
“Firstly, and this is the most ridiculous so far, an infants’ school I read about has put forward the idea of not labelling parents as ‘mother or ‘father’ and has cancelled ‘Father’s Day’ and ‘Mother’s Day’ as a measure to avoid possibly offending same-sex couples with children attending the school. I can only imagine the offence this will generate among traditional families and, for that matter, families with same-sex parents who possess a modicum of common sense.”
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Gary also read that military leaders were “now pushing for the omission of the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ from their lexicon”.
“There is also the ‘neutral gender’ crowd that apparently wants schoolchildren to wear uniforms that won’t offend other children who might not identify as male or female.
“The list goes on from the ridiculous to the absurd, and has spread to nearly all aspects of society.”
He’d even heard someone suggest that pets should “not be defined as male or female in case we offend their sensibilities”.
This might be a tad difficult given male dogs usually walk with their willies swinging in the gentle breeze.
“Does our dog identify as male, or will we now have to refer to him as our ‘canine quadruped of gender-neutral orientation’ when we take him to the vet?” Gary wondered.
Will Gary have to change his dog’s name? After all, Butch is a bit too butch.
Gary is also concerned about the farmers.
“Instead of referring to livestock in traditional terms, farmers may have to be re-educated so that – like our dog – their stock isn’t offended by identifying labels such as ‘bull’ or ‘cow’, or worst of all ‘pig’.
“These now might be called ‘a non-specific male/female asset’ that must now be identified visually at the saleyards. The short-sighted auctioneer will now need to be extra careful.”
Gary wonders where the political-correctness bandwagon will end up. Well, we used to live in a world in which people understandably took offence to things like racism, homophobia and sexism. This is a world we understood.
Now we live in a world of safe spaces, trigger warnings and microaggressions. It’s been dubbed the Snowflake Generation. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, that term itself is considered offensive.
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