Captain of controversy

January 9, 2009 at 1:07 am 17 comments

Wow what I day I’ve had in the inter-world. Yeah I know I know, you’re not here to hear about my world wide web adventures, but to see pictures of those cute little pumpkins who are just now starting to salivate at the prospect of the 11:30 smorgasbord. But man I tell you, I’ve been through the ringer. I’ve been a lurker and occasional poster at a site called Triplet Connection – to which I’ve dutifully linked here – ever since the day that magic son #3 poked his head through the ether in that second ultrasound of ours back in May. It’s a good site, with a great, helpful forum where people who find themselves in exactly the same straits as Alex and I go to vent or seek advice or just commiserate and rub shoulders. 

As with most web communities, the place is – unfortunately, if you ask me – a bit overrun with internet jargon. There’s one acronym used over there quite often that gets under my skin. Women refer to their husbands as their “DH”s. Now when I see those letters, the first thing, sad to say, that comes to mind rhymes with sick bed. But, after a short while I figured that the collective contempt held by triplet motherhood for ne’erdowell doophus triplet dads worldwide couldn’t have reached such a boiling point that the latter group was officially deemed phallus-noggins one and all. I asked Alex what it meant and she had no idea, but we conjectured together that it was probably something like “designated husband.” 

Anyway, today, between feedings, push came to shove and I opened my big trap, asking why people had to cling to such a silly abbreviation rather than typing out some whole word to represent their supposedly beloved coadministrators. It emerged that DH officially stands for “dear husband,” and that I, for raising the issue:

  1. had too much time on my hands
  2. had never used the internet before
  3. wore my feelings on my sleeve
  4. was “smarty farty” 
  5. was having a MMD (moody man day – I like that one!)
  6. was going to Paree and asking all the locals to speak English, fercryin’outloud. 

For the record, I’ll concede the last two points. But I want to just consolidate my argument against referring to husbands as “DH”s here (I struggled towards this clarity over the course of this day, during which time the full fury of that hallowed web community and their sacred symbols was unleashed upon me). 

So my argument against DH:

  • It is not a universal term, and as such, serves to make outsiders or newcomers feel excluded (all lingo does this, I know). 
  • It, like many other internet abbreviations and acronyms (I used “LOL” as an example, much to my peril) does not really serve as an abbreviation, but as a device of conformity and an emblem of membership in a specific, exclusionary community. You could just as quickly type “husband” as you could DH, but you’d be less of an insider for doing so. (DH always seems to have a nudge and a wink to it for me). 
  • Related to the above, it, like many internet acronyms (LOL, IMHO, LMAO, IYKWIM) basically homogenizes speech, kills original thought and breeds linguistic conformity. Do we really all use these phrases in our day to day life? Do we really call our husbands “dear husbands” without being somewhat sarcastic about it? (I imagine some of us do, and most of us don’t). 
  • It has a tendency to, for lack of a better word, otherize the person in question (the DH). I think dads should be encouraged to participate in parenting when they can, and the use and overuse of DH on forums seems to me to objectify the men in question and cast them in a negative, or at least secondary light. 
  • Sick bed.

Anyway, some of my points. I figured I’d spew them out here in a community where I feel generally loved, after having been beaten up over there. I won’t link to it – but if you’re industrious you could probably ride my link on the right over and find the thread in question. 

Just someone tell me I’m not crazy. Or at least please don’t call the funny farm tonight – I have babies to feed. And more cute pictures of them tomorrow, I promise.


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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Geoff  |  January 9, 2009 at 6:05 am

    As I responded in the forum, it seems that although I agree with your points in general, I think you overthink the marginalization factor. Because it is a style of writing, albeit a little on the lame side, asking others (Especially on a board that can get a bit “Feisty”) to completely change the way they post was probably a bit to much to ask.

    I’m glad you brought it up. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to join the yahoo group I referred to in my post.

  • 2. tess  |  January 9, 2009 at 6:15 am

    a tc mum chiming in.

    many women choose to use the term “DH” rather than their husband’s actual names because they are seeking anonymity. many of us tc mum’s came from infertility forums where we needed to be careful about our identities – for personal or professional reasons. sometimes both.

    i laughed when you referred to all men as deliriously hubristic…(DH) and then wondered if you didn’t mean man’s self obsession was a definite hamartia?

    15 yrs ago people thought a “cell” was something you studied in biology class and “mobile” meant “YES MUM I’M OUT OF BED”. as technology evolved, those two words have taken on two new definitions, as have the acronyns commonly used on internet chat rooms.

    welcome to tc.

  • 3. Yory  |  January 9, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Totally agree with you, Dan. I came across DH when we were reading preemie blogs around the time Sylvie was born. It always seemed to me either sarcastic or a weird relic from the ’50’s–or sick bed. That said, the same attitude that men are doofuses (doofi?) in parenting helps down the line. If I ever left the house forgetting to put a shoe on a kid or putting on a coat backwards, people thought it cute. Nina didn’t get that benefit of the doubt.

    I also agree with you on LOL. There’s a great article by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker about 4 years ago on misinterpreting LOL as ‘lots of love.’ Got him in trouble when he was writing to his sister during her divorce. Check it out.

    Can’t wait to see the triplets in person one day soon.

  • 4. Mike S.  |  January 9, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Designated Hitter? Like, good only for a strikeout or a dinger?

  • 5. pam  |  January 9, 2009 at 9:09 am

    i still am enjoying yesterday’s post. don’t you love the wide range of opinions and personalities, even in such a niche community as TC?

    and for the record, while i occasionally refer to my husband as DH (when i’m feeling lazy) i’ve never in my life LOL’ed. (okay, now i’ve done it once.) for some reason, THAT makes me crazy. so see, we all have our “things”.

  • 6. shnootre  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Ah, you see – gentle, kind people. I knew you were there if I just searched the right corner of the internets.

    Geoff – I agree with you, when all is said and done. With a good 4.5 hours of sleep behind me, I can see that it was probably ill advised to take on city hall – especially in the somewhat combative manner that I chose. I’ll email you about that group because it sounds cool.

    Tess – Your points are well taken. I still think, though, that the acronym obsession is somehow different from other technological language, and that it really does stem from a kind of intellectual laziness (a phrase I used on t.c. that immediately had me labeled as an elitist egghead who had never touched the internet). But “definite hamartia”? That’s golden.

    Yory – You see, THAT’S what brother-in-laws are for!! Thanks, man. As for LOL (more below) – my Facebook friend Jude also suggested these possibilities, all of which I outright love: “lots of lox” or “likely on lithium” or “living on liquor.” The outer ones describe me better than the middle, so far…

    Mike S – That’s another common interpretation, but your elucidation of the significance of designated hitter in this context is spot on. How’s India?

    Pam – Yeah, I do think it’s an interesting forum, though I was a little caught off guard by the harshness of some of the responses. But, when I read my initial post now, I can see how it too was sort of harsh. Good to have a friend in you over there, anyway.
    And YAY for you for no LOL. LOL is a disgrace, I have no room for it my life. It says to me “I am not a thinker and I have nothing to say.” And people use LOL reflexively, to fill the air. Say nothing instead! Or say something completely incomprehensible like “chickomatux!” or cmx for short. Seriously – I might go postal here!

  • 7. Janne Tolonen  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

    You know CMX rock band?! They are my favorit!!!
    Chek this song in Finnish!;

  • 8. pyjammy  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    if i think something’s funny, i say “hee hee”. or “ha ha”. just like i would IRL. (oops)

  • 9. shnootre  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:33 am

    But Janne, why did they have to abbreviate it? Couldn’t they write it out? What does CMX stand for!?

    Nice song – but more vowels than I usually like in my music!

    That feasty table looks like some of the spreads I saw when I visited you in Finland all those years ago.

    But what’s up with the snake? (sick bed?)

  • 10. shnootre  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Pam – me too! I’m a HUGE believer in both haha or hee hee, or, I’m comfortable enough w/ my masculinity to occasionally use “tee hee hee”.

  • 11. Janne Tolonen  |  January 9, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Nobody would remember a Finnish name… And I supose they didn’t want an English one.. so CMX is as good as any…
    Any way, this doofuse hominus IS sick but cannot stay in bed due to a full house of kids ( two). You wait and see!

  • 12. Jeffrey  |  January 9, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Oh Dan. Awesome. That thread just took 1.5 hours off my work day. for the record though (not surprisingly I assume) I agree with you. I hate acronyms. Oh and thanks, now I’m addicted to triplet threads

    ps-ever wonder why there aren’t three p’s in trippplet? seems to work right?

  • 13. Jeffrey  |  January 9, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Edit in my last comment

    acronym to initialism

  • 14. Michelle  |  January 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Do husbands on TC refer to their wives as “DW”? Maybe that would get the objectification point across (then again, maybe not…). If the practice is for anonymity, why not just say Dad?

    On cooking blogs women use “hubby.” As in “Hubby really likes it when I cook […].” Now THERE’s a relic!

  • 15. Tonya  |  January 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’ve been secretly irritated by DH and SIL and MIL and all the other familial acronyms for a few years now. It never made sense to me to call your husband or your sister-in-law or your mother-in-law anything other than that if in fact you’re not willing to share their names (though SIL and MIL are awfully long to type out).

  • 16. shnootre  |  January 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Let’s see…

    Jeff – yay, you’re with me! There aren’t three ps in triplet, but there ARE three Is in Triiibe (they’re the awesome ID triplet performance artists I link to on the top of this blog).

    Michelle – yeah, supposedly they do say DW, though there are so few of them that it doesn’t really register. I like hubby and wifey!

    Toni – I have less of a problem w/ MIL and SIL, since those CLEARLY are useful abbreviations, and we’re usually bad mouthing them anyway (whoa! Just kidding to MY MIL and BIL!!!)

  • 17. Kala  |  January 9, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Right on, Michelle — I came in to say that DH is cut from the same old-fashioned cloth as (and appears in the same contexts as) “hubby.”

    But, hell, neither of those is as richly silly (or subtly exclusionary) as MMD for Moody Man Day……


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