Friday, November 09, 2012

Person, Partner and Parent -- new rules for marriage

FROG HOSPITAL -- Nov. 9, 2012

By Fred Owens

This is really boring stuff. It's like going back to school or reading the manual -- but it can't be helped......I need to get back to writing the farm news really soon.

Person, Partner and Parent -- new rules for marriage.

I will explain the new rules for marriage, which can be confusing, so I am using an instructional format. Ready?

The key words are Person, Partner, and Parent. The operative verb is Choose.

And this is how it works:

A person may choose a partner and may become a parent. Simple. Any person may choose any other person to be a partner and they may or may not choose to become parents.

Got it?

Okay, but there's an important variation. A person may choose to become a parent without choosing a partner -- this is called being a single parent.

Those are the basics. Notice that no gender usage is necessary in this format. Terms like husband, wife, mother and father may still be used but in a subordinate sense.

The wedding ceremony itself is a different matter. Curiously, the new rule is the same as the old rule -- women are very interested in weddings, all the details and customs and hoo-ha. Men, by a large, except for a few floral arrangers, only want to show up on time and wear a suit. The archaic terms bride and groom have not been supplanted, often causing confusion -- two brides? two grooms? Be assured this matter is under linguistic reform, but for now we carry on.

Now, let us bring up a difficult subject -- proponents of traditional marriage object to the new rules on moral and religious grounds, which is a topic for another day. I only want to make one point, but it is an important point -- that people who resist new marriage customs are often reacting from a great deal of confusion rather than moral objection. Consider that 15 or 20 years ago everybody knew what a marriage was and certain assumptions could be made. If a man was getting married, we assumed he was getting married to a woman.

Assumptions are important and make life comfortable -- again, I am discussing manners, not the right or wrong. All the old assumptions have been tossed into the air and some people are just getting cranky about it. That confusion and crankiness should be respected for what it is.

For further study. Old rules for marriage can be seen on film, in two movies. Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy in 1950, and the 1991 remake with Steve Martin. New movies showing the new rules are coming your way soon.

Women in Journalism. I remember years ago when women were hesitant and even demure, when I had an editor's job and a female secretary who typed my letters. But I wanted things to change and I talked with the women. I encouraged them, helped them with confidence, and more than once I said "Well, you can write a story as good as any man in this office."

"I can?" -- she said shyly, and then, "Yeah, maybe I can."

And then she was coming out of the big editor's office, in tears, after getting dressed down by the boss and I told her "that old bastard is just a bag of hot air, don't let it bother you" and I told her "You could be the editor yourself some day, I mean why not, you're smart, you work hard -- don't sell yourself short."

Well, I moved on and eventually, after much struggle, she did become the editor and she was good at it, and then after a few years behind the desk she began to believe she got there all by herself. And the Publisher was happy after he got over his initial resistance to female staff -- "Hey, let's face it, they work harder and for less money, and I need to stay up with the times."

And the women in journalism didn't need pep talks anymore -- they were loud, brash, competitive spitfires -- get out of the way or get run over, because it's a tough business.

Anyhow, that's how things have changed over the years -- technological changes and the move from print to Internet have meant fewer jobs for everyone which is another topic.

But I'm thinking back to that moment in 1972 when I began talking to my secretary-- I wish I had kept my mouth shut.


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