I learned a new term today, from female-focused career blog The Grindstone: work spouse. “Does having a ‘work husband’ threaten your marriage?” the article asks.
Maybe, maybe not… but the term ‘work husband’ sure threatens the meaning of the word “marriage.” It threatens the prospects for real male-female equality in the workplace. It’s an inappropriate way to define a professional relationship.
The post refutes a comment on a prior entry — “How to divorce your work husband” — that bizarrely opens with
Oh the “Work Husband.” It’s a dubious title that I’ve never been quite comfortable with.
If you’re not comfortable with the term “work husband,” here’s an idea. Don’t use it. It’s an unnecessary and frankly creepy classification for an office friendship. I thought surely it was another phenomenon concocted by Cosmo or some other faux-feminist advice-peddling rag for “sassy” types but Wikipedia traces its origins back to the 1930s with Faith Baldwin’s novel The Office Wife. Back then, such a term made a hell of a lot more sense. But in 2012?
What do you call someone who
…backs you up in meetings. He emails you non-essential information — frequently. When he goes the vending machine, he buys for you, too, and at work events, he knows whether you want red or white. He knows your spouse, if you have one, and kids, if you have them. You know his. You have each other’s cell numbers, just in case… ?
The Huffington Post calls that a work spouse.
I call it a FRIEND. Why attach a sexually-connoted word to a relationship that is completely platonic? Is it still so novel for a man and a woman to have a supportive and constructive working relationship, that people actually feel comfortable likening it to a sacrament?