Wow. I am so proud of this forum. Seriously.
We made it to page 3 in a thoughtful, reasoned, introspective manner on a sensitive subject which I think would educate anyone who read it on the variety of uses of the term.
I agree that tone is everything (tone either by context or actual voice tone) and what I was searching for is "what is the most common tone you have heard people use when they call someone Admiral" and that has really come through in these responses.
I also know that most of my understanding of Admiral comes from books
, magazines, forums
and cruisers blogs and less from being "out there".
I would like to propose that however it was used originally, because the term Admiral has been used primarily to describe women-in-straight-couples, that the term now is very similar to the way Americanadians use "the Wife" ...except on boats.
The way people use "the Wife" (as opposed to saying MY wife) runs the same gamut of meanings depending on the underlying relationships.
Sometimes it is a term of endearment, sometimes it is derogatory, completely dependent on the speaker and how they relate to the spouse.
For the people who are worried about using the term in the future or people lightening up about it - certainly there are people who are going to have knee-jerk reactions to any word but I would like to say that I, for one, react to the tone and context not the word. You could call me "the Admiral" in a way that will make me smile and joke with you, or in a way where I would have to open a can of whoop-ass
The difference for me is that the term Admiral seems to be used in a way that separates her from the boats daily work or dirty work and the term Wife doesn't separate her from the home's daily work or dirty work (although I'm sure we could fill another thread with pink and blue jobs - that's beyond the scope
of this for me).
The second difference I see is a difference in "range of power" where on the boat the Admiral is in charge of big overarching decisions and not day-to-day issues (generally I think this is how the term is used even if there are exceptions) but off the boat there isn't this distinctions between overarching and day to day.
I know there are certainly exceptions (Admirals who change the oil
or whatever) this is my read of the general trend for the term.