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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Ladies First
Since when was Shinzo Abe's wife the "First Lady" of Japan?

I first saw this usage on the internet a few months ago, and dismissed it as the parochialism of an American reporter, transferring language appropriate to the United States to a context where it didn't fit - like the woman interviewing Nelson Mandela who asked him to comment on an issue "as an African American." (He was too polite to point out her error.) But then I saw it again, and again - and recently I even heard it from a Japanese friend, who confirmed that it was indeed a thing in Japan - even if, as in America, it's a courtesy title rather than a constitutional one.

But, while it makes a kind of sense in the States, where the President is also the head of state, surely it makes no sense in a monarchy? If Akie Abe is the First Lady of Japan, what number lady is Empress Masako?

I was about to write that if Boris Johnson tried to call Carrie Symonds the First Lady a couple of Beefeaters would be round to No. 10 sharpish to let him feel the business end of a pike - but I see that some newspapers have indeed started referring to her, albeit flippantly, as the "First Girlfriend". Will that take root?

I don't know why this even bothers me, since I'm not a royalist, but a) I do find the confusion of presidential and monarchical systems irritating, and b) I would be sorry to think that the whole First Lady meme was spreading, since it was always pretty irredeemably sexist.

I'm Glad 10

Whaaaaat the heeeellllllll on that image. Just... wow.

If you click on it, you should be able to see scans of the whole book - it's quite an eye-opener.

Here in the US, we call the husband of an executive office-holder the "First Gentleman."

I suppose we should think of a gender-neutral term as well.

That answers one question I was hoping to see answered when Hillary won in 2016: I was quite looking forward to seeing Bill Clinton referred to as "the First Gentleman of the United States," in much the same spirit that the Prince Regent was "the first gentleman of Europe." Yet another shattered dream!