I was pecking away on my Mac this morning, minding my own business, believing I was in the privacy of my own thoughts, and typed the word “husband.” And suddenly there it was. The ominous little green lines under the word husband, usually reserved for those of us who are “grammatically” incorrect. Rather piqued and always curious, my cursor inched its way over the word and the following alert/suggestion/commentary/opinion/idea/whatever came up: “Gender-specific expression. A gender-neutral word like ‘spouse’ may be appropriate.” Huh? Why does Apple have an issue with the word husband? I typed the word “father.” No suggestions for a gender-neutral “parent” here. I typed god, with a lower-case g and no hints or suggestions towards capitalizing it. Just Husband, and oh, Wife. Hmm.
Semantics is a fun game I have always loved. Words are fantastic to me and they have always been. Finding a new way to express a thought, an idea, a feeling, or emotion, is what makes us human and I feel more alive when I am doing it. But I don’t want to subtract words, or neutralize them, I want to add to the repertoire. More words please, not less. More ways to express myself please, not less expression. Words can hurt and heal, but only with the will and power of the person saying them, and most of all, the filter of the one receiving them.
Gender-neutral is becoming all the buzz lately. A Nebraska elementary school was instructed with new ways to refer to children, avoiding the “binary” terms boys and girls and using terms like “purple penguins.” But when teachers feel compelled to reference gender they are encouraged to say, “Boys, girls, both, or neither.” I encourage you to explore the full list of rules here and judge for yourself.
I think there are grand attempts to bring an awareness to people about how gender and sexuality is being looked at and accepted. This is good. Let’s learn. Let’s be open. But my openness for others never needs to be at my own expense or the expense of my ideals or personal ways of expressing myself. I do not need to lessen my light for the sake of someone else needing to see their own. On the contrary, I will brighten my light for them.
Nelson Mandela was quoted in the book “A Return To Love” by Marianne Williamson, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I believe this applies to all of us. Regardless of your understandings about gender or any issue you may have.
So for me, I am my Wife’s Husband. This is a very carefully chosen word, with a powerful inference and a deep meaning, far beyond gender, but gender it imbues. It stretches past even myself into an idea that is sacred and magnificent. Spouse, in all its “neutrality”, just does no justice to the sentiment I impart to my Wife. In all its paternal maleness, I invest myself in being a Husband. It is something that is not simple to execute, to maintain, or to enhance. You have to cultivate it, tend to it, delve into it. Being Husband is to hold a frequency of intense commitment, something perhaps even beyond our own humanity. Not just a commitment to Wife but a commitment to the deepest meanings of the idea of Husband. Just as they say, “Anyone can be a parent, but not everyone can be a Father.”, analogously it can be said, “Anyone can be a spouse, but not everyone can be a Husband.” I choose Husband because I choose Wife, my Wife. Not just any Wife or spouse, but My Wife. This is the empowering engine of Being Husband. At least for me. This brings me closer to the sense of myself and perhaps other Husbands and Wives, of any gender combination, share this with me.
I am always for progression of the human condition. This is what Health is about to me. A never-ending continuum of evolution towards deeper understandings and truth. That is what it is to Heal. To Heal means to “bring together, make whole.” If we are to “heal” our ideas about gender, then we need to bring together all ideas, even traditional ones, like Husband, and not fear its light.
To Your (Idiomatic) Health,
ps Look out for more answers to the questions posed this week about Mission: Ice Cream.