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Is "trailing" spouses a derogratory term

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Is "trailing" spouses a derogratory term

Postby carteki » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 12:41 pm

Can some-one please clear this up for me - I was rapped over the knuckles for calling a group of wives who spend all day at home looking after the house and kids (if they have them) "trailing wives" as they considered it derogratory. I didn't mean it in that sense and have heard it used on more than one occasion as a way of describing that particular group of people - just like soccer mom's. Is this term derogratory, or was the person who mentioned it just especially sensitive?
Thanks

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Postby sierra2469alpha » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 12:59 pm

Hey Kim - personally I've heard it used numerous times also, and while I don't particularly like it - it conjures up concepts of not having a choice (trailing, behind, not leading etc.) I'm not even sure why the term is even used. Like most labels, it's somewhat meaningless as I don't understand why it's important to single out/identify those spouses/life partners who join the primary engaged person! But that's just my 20c worth!

IMHO, it's not worthy of a whack across the knucles, though. HTH, P

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Postby smayrhofer » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 2:10 pm

I think the 'trailing' part is probably a little offensive. It makes them seem like the weaker half of the couple, rather than standing on equal ground. Like they just trail after their hubbies to see to the house and kids.

Say a man gets transferred to Singapore, and his wife who works in a highflying company gets her company to move her out to Singapore as well. Would you still call her a 'trailing wife'?

I'm not a trailing wife, myself... so I can't really judge.

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Postby ksl » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 2:29 pm

In some Asian Countries it is quite common for the wife to walk behind the male in traditional terms, I think it's mostly related to male chauvinistic Countries and a little old fashioned, then the term spreads like wild fire, if women follow their husbands around has a housewife, the term is a typical used between males, not women, for excess baggage, very disrespectful, because the men want to be with the boys and do what single men normally do.

Not everyone of course! My first thoughts was the cultural connection, of respect within certain races, normally all the women walk behind the male chinwagging(womans talk) at a leisurely pace. Not everyone would see it in a derogatory manner, more a figure of speech between males maybe, when a guy wants to be alone with his mates or wants to work away on assignment and a trailing wife sometimes effects the working environment, especially for expats and soldiers.

Here is a link on expats wives, I have not read it so I cannot comment on the article, but at a guess i would believe the term originated probably in the colonial days, women in a mens world type of thing, adopted by governments, when VIP's and soldiers were being posted over seas and such, the government sees it has excess baggage in the real term.

When i was getting divorced while in the military, i wasn't allowed compassionate leave, and was explicitly told it was a mans army and couldn't even defend myself until I was sent for by the courts, on the day, the divorce was issued. 1976, a trailing wife is a used to be a negative factor, that would have an impact on promotion prospects.

http://trailing-spouses.blogspot.com/

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 3:18 pm

The term is not offensive at all. It was and is used to designate the spouse who comes WITH the husband OR wife on an overseas posting. We have several "MALE trailing spouses here on this board whom I'm sure you will hear from shortly. Originally it was based on fact in the early days 40+ years ago, most overseas postings were single postings and the wives stayed back in the UK or wherever to look after the kids & such. Later, they started bringing the normally 'stay at home' spouses with them as well as the kids and that was the birth of the International Schools and so forth. This was done because too many overseas spouses 'went' native after a while and left their wive for some local SPG. That was also the beginning of the "Expat" packages escalating into the humongous things that they were 10 years ago and still in certain industries. Although I feel we may see some changes there due to the Financal industries current debacle!

While I could see where some may find itn derogatory, I would love to be a trailing spouse (spouse is genderless). I'd love to find a wife who could support me in the manner to which I could easily become accustomed! :cool: I think the ones who may have the chip on their shoulders might be those who have likely given up their own careers to "accompany" their spouse here for the benefit of the "travel", "adventure" or 'protecting their marriage', whatever, and have found it a boring routine of sitting around endless pools and starbucks and shopping centres and are finding the sameness of every complex here starting to grate on their nerves. I know it does mine!

So maybe it's not really PC today but frankly, I think somebody is just not as happy here as they should be and are carrying a chip around on their shoulder.

Flame away....... :P

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Postby Saint » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 3:25 pm

Just call them "Tai Tai" instead, that will confuse them!! :cool:

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Postby carteki » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 3:33 pm

Saint wrote:Just call them "Tai Tai" instead, that will confuse them!! :cool:


Just hope like hell that they don't know what it means... we had a great deal of laughter in our mandarin class when our very prim and proper teacher was trying to explain the usage :oops:

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Postby ksl » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 4:43 pm

carteki wrote:
Saint wrote:Just call them "Tai Tai" instead, that will confuse them!! :cool:


Just hope like hell that they don't know what it means... we had a great deal of laughter in our mandarin class when our very prim and proper teacher was trying to explain the usage :oops:
Tell me more, and I will confirm!

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Postby carteki » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 4:56 pm

If I remember correctly Tai Tai refers to the woman in a man's life. If the woman is in his presence and he says "this is my wife" he will use the phrase tai tai, but if she is not there then he is refering to his mistress.

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Postby Saint » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 5:08 pm

carteki wrote:If I remember correctly Tai Tai refers to the woman in a man's life. If the woman is in his presence and he says "this is my wife" he will use the phrase tai tai, but if she is not there then he is refering to his mistress.


That's I believe the olden day meaning kind of but the modern day meaning is a lot different

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Postby carteki » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 5:57 pm

which is?

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Postby ksl » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 7:02 pm

Tai Tai in the old days, would be used for The supreme Wife, Normally the rich husband would have more than one wife.

The term implies respect.

Although these days, it applies to a wealthy mans wife that doesn't have to work for money, privileged, but i use it all the time for my wife, when i introduce someone to her in Chinese of course, although it's me that's privileged and my wife works. :wink: Once bit twice shy :lol: Anyway, i married her for her money :) well not really, close though, she's better off than i am, because i give her all mine, and i'm the maid too.

I'll have to double check if it means mistress when she isn't there!

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Postby Wind In My Hair » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 7:56 pm

"Tai Tai" is not derogatory. It has several meanings, depending on the context:

1. "Wife": A man would introduce his wife as "wo de tai tai".
2. "Ma'am": As in a maid addressing her employer.
3. "Woman of leisure": As in "look at those tai-tais having high tea".

I often have days off during the week and my friends enviously refer to it as a "tai tai" lifestyle (I'm a self-supporting tai tai though!). So generally it is something good.

"Trailing spouse" is also not derogatory, and neither is "housewife". Some people take offence to both though. It has nothing to do with the term, but how they perceive their status in life, I think. They feel like they have no identity of their own, or something like that. So they feel the term makes them "less". And they impose their interpretation of the term to others who use the term, who don't mean the same thing at all.

"Stay-at-home mum" has replaced "housewife" as more acceptable these days, even though they don't exactly stay at home much do they? Don't know what else to call trailing spouses though. "Companions"? "Partners"? "The Spouses"? "Non-working expats"? It all gets a little ridiculous.

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Postby road.not.taken » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 8:17 pm

I believe 'trailing spouse' is not at all offensive. If your job did not bring you to the posting and you are married, you are 'trailing' spouse. Tai-tai on the other hand, which may have a completely benign meaning in it's antecedents, is used quite derogatorily to describe rich, over-bling-ed, teased-up haired, Mercedes driving, Chinese Auntie types with entitlement issues. And they are usually bad drivers.

Shvartz translates as 'black' in yiddish, but it means soooooo much more.

SMS, just to put a fine point on it -- trailing spouses can work here (in addition to the double parenting outside-the-home part), it just wasn't their job that moved them here. For instance, I have worked in Singapore, but I am a trailing spouse. We're here because of his job.

Stay-at-home parents and trailing spouses are not synonymous.

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Postby QRM » Thu, 15 Jan 2009 8:42 pm

I am a male trailing spouse, house husband, stay at home dad, kept man, primary carer, sponger, etc. her chums call me Mai Mai don't know what it means but gives them lots of giggles. You are what you are, not too bothered what they call me as its all done in jest and with no malice.

I should learn a thing or two from the Tai Tai, I dont ask for designer gear, large diamonds, or a fancy car, give me a play station, few Newspapers and a quiet corner with a massage chair and I am a happy as a clam.

Cant wait for the kid to start school I can finally get my nails done.


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