Thursday, June 05, 2008

the heterosexual assumption

One thing that has noticeably degraded in my lifetime is the hetersexual assumption. It’s nice. Sure, most people most of the time figure if you have a sweetie she’s a girl, if you’re a boy, and vice versa. But once in awhile comes the realization that there is another option. Boy could be with boy?

Usually when I hear someone refer to her “partner” I figure she’s referring to a same-sex partner. But aware straights have picked up the term, too. I like the ambiguity. When Lucy O’Brien in her Madonna: Like an Icon recounts how she came around to appreciation of the pop star as artist she says: “We are from the same generation. Like her, I was a lapsed Catholic girl fired up by feminism. I played in an all-girl band and knew the thrill of performing. Like her, I was drawn to punk and the underground club scene. Like her, I focused on my career until I met and married my partner later in life. Like her, I had two children (a boy and a girl) after I turned forty.”

Married. Partner. Is this partner male or female? As O’Brien uses the word “married” I suspected the partner is male as gay people don’t yet get to toss off that word so easily. There are places where we can marry, however, and some claim the word even when the marriage is not state-recognized. Further explanation is typically forthcoming in such cases. As “husband” could easily be switched out with “partner” the easiest guess is that is what O’Brien means. But from what she’s said so far you can’t know. I like that.

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