Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The problem with the word 'boyfriend'

If there's one word that I find problematic it's 'boyfriend'. It's alright calling someone your boyfriend when you're 16 (if slightly embarrassing) but when ladies of a certain age are calling their equally elderly lovers their boyfriend, I can't help feeling slightly squeamish about it. A big bloke with no hair on his head but quite a bit in his nose and ears can't be your boyfriend. He's your man, your fella, your whatever but no, not your boyfriend.

It seems to be socially acceptable to call women 'girls' at whatever age, however much we may resist the idea, but men aren't boys. It makes me think of Private Pike; 'stupid boys' in tank tops who still live with their mums.

Also 'boyfriend' seems to have become an indicator of a woman's girlishness. This is evidenced by the trend for calling any women's clothes that are basically baggy 'boyfriend'. So we have 'boyfriend jeans' and 'boyfriend jackets'. The inference is that they are soooo big that the wearer looks all teeny-weeny and sweet in it, like she's wearing her big boyfriend's big manly jacket/jeans/insert other garment (but not Y fronts).

But what to call one's beloved once one is over 35? There are a number of alternatives all of which are equally squirm-worthy or rather too business like and lacking in requisite tenderness (e.g: partner - sounds like you work for a firm of accountants . It's also a bit right on. People who call their significant other their partner often come out with my least favourite expression 'we're pregnant'. as if the male half of the 'partnership' has suddenly sprouted a womb.

So you end up plumping for the bf word because basically there isn't anything better. The only solution is to marry your bf and make him your husband but that's a whole other issue! You know what I mean girlfriend?

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