Casualties of gender equality

Peter Leith is all for gender equality but this language leaves him a little sad.

Casualties of gender equality

Peter Leith is 90 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but he is a great observer of life and where we’re headed and where we’ve been. Today, he rues one of the casualties of gender equality.


Adelaide 1952. I was selling ‘Manchester parcels’, on commission only, door to door. 

I knocked on the door of a down-market, Housing Commission rental prefab. A middle-aged man in work clothes came to the door. 

I told him what I was selling, and he said: “You'll have to talk to the wife mate. That’s her department.” Then he turned around and called out, “Beryl love. Man wants to see yer”, and left me at the door.

Nowadays the fashion is to avoid speaking of husbands or wives, but to use the unisex word, partner, instead.

Now I am committed to ‘gender equality’ – with three ex-wives, four daughters, six granddaughters, and the mother I had, I would have to be suicidal to be anything BUT a feminist!

Even so, whatever we may have gained in terms of verbal ‘gender equality’, our language has lost something – some warm and human words.

Given the right tone of voice, there was something very endearing and full of human warmth, about such phrases as: the wife, the missus, the old man, the old lady, hubby and her indoors.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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    24th May 2020
    I agree Peter, when I fill out a paper form where it asks 'Partners' name I cross out partners and write 'Wife's'. Never had any adverse consequences. Unfortunately I am not able to do this on electronic forms, but I wish I could. I am proud to be a husband and to have a wife rather than a 'partner'. I do attribute her the status of a full partner in our affairs (the financial kind not the other kind) even though I jokingly describe our partnership as 'she runs up the bills and I pay them'. Happy with that. I do not look forward to when forms give more than two options for 'sex'.
    24th May 2020
    Forms already do and I have no issue with that! Some people have undefined sexual status, meaning they have both or a lack physically. Now, they can acknowledge that and maybe even not be ashamed that it happened. One woman only found out when she went to get married as she lacked the equipment for having a baby. She told her fiancée once she had seen a doctor and he loved her so they still married. She had of course suspected it as it was obvious but she had been ashamed. She felt feminine so continued to identify as one and looked womanly. It is hard for us to understand who have never been through this kind of thing but we can try to understand. Partner is okay too but maybe you should have the choice as well. Husband and wife, or partners, or whatever you wish, each should be able to choose and be respected.
    24th May 2020
    Political correctness has robbed our language of many descriptive terms and replaced them with ambiguous conscience appeasing babble. We were so worried about judgemental high profile loudmouths that we allowed ourselves to be guilt laden if we used words deemed by this loud minority as inappropriate. We changed the meaning of some perfectly good words such as gay, we allowed the misuse of images such as the rainbow and when we couldnt invent a word to cover a minority group we just use initials. Lgbq rsvp whatever...just add a letter when a new variation of gender bending pops it's head up, job done. What a farce we've allowed to be made of the English language. Changing words has never altered a persons prejudice. I worked for many years in the disabilty field and saw desriptors change from 'crippled' to 'handicapped' to 'disabled' to 'physically challenged' but each word eventually became politically incorrect and seen as a derogatory label. I dont set out to insult anyone but if I use the wrong word occasionally because I havent caught up with the latest trend or the old memory box slips back into circa 1960 then so be it, suck it up.
    Winston Smith
    24th May 2020
    Sure, some men have wives. Others, in very long term, loving relationships, aren't married. They have partners. Both options are needed.

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