A poem that expresses a view I’ve held for quite a while.
I was out at a party one evening,
Greeting strangers and old friends alike,
When I met an acquaintance named Sally,
Who said, “This is my partner, Mike.”
I was struck by the noun that she’d chosen;
With its use I just couldn’t agree.
Being her, I’d have said, “Mike’s my boyfriend;”
‘Partner’ didn’t quite sit comfortably.
To me, whom you love’s not your ‘partner’;
If you’re married it’s ‘husband’ or ‘wife’,
And if not then it’s ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’;
Saying ‘partner’ just shouldn’t be rife.
If I say ‘partner’, I mean a colleague,
Like my co-worker Harry McGurk,
Who I call on if I’m out of staples,
Or fancy a drink after work.
The word ‘partner’ belongs in a ballroom,
Where well-dressed folk whirl round in pairs,
Or it’s what a cowboy calls his buddy
While they’re out hunting bison or bears.
“But it’s difficult these days!” you’d argue;
“Sally might prefer women to men!
“What if you’d assumed she’s heterosexual
“And you called Mike her ‘boyfriend’; what then?”
Well then, Sally could simply correct me.
It’s OK; it’s not breaking the law.
It’s not like I deny their existence;
To assume shouldn’t cause a furore.
I’d be right nineteen times out of twenty
Saying ‘boy’ or ‘girlfriend’ any rate.
And why should Sally call men her ‘partners’?
Is she somehow ashamed to be straight?
I say, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Saying ‘partner’ just leaves things confused.
If you like gender neutral, say ‘lover’,
Then not even my feelings are bruised.