Inequality and Equality in “I Want a Wife”
The 1970s, when “I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady was published, is the middle of Second-wave feminism, which started debating sexuality, inequalities, family issues, and women’s role in society. Therefore, recognizing fundamental ideas of the article is not difficult. Brady not only indicates wives and mothers’ duties but also mentions indirectly the relationships and responsibilities of members in the family. She also writes critically about many women’s obligations, particularly, looking after the social life of the husband and the children, to call out for the attention. In this case, while the author’s point is agreeable, it could have been clearer to consider Brady’s opinion under recent views.
According to the article, women as wives or mothers, or both, have to manage time to do their jobs and take care of their family. For instance, Brady addresses a list of wives’ traditional obligations such as taking care of children to let the husbands socialize, and go to school or satisfying their physical and sexual needs. Moreover, a wife cannot complain about her duties. She has to do everything for her family, including paying without sharing her fatigue after work. A wife could quit a job, stay at home and be replaced by “more suitable” wife if that is what her husband demands. With the humorous and subtly critical tone, Brady shows her sympathy for all married women because she has been through all of those experiences, as she writes: “I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife.” Even is not mentioned directly, the last sentence: “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” emphasizes that men, in the past, did not contribute to their homes and had individual liberty, whereas the wives struggled with many responsibilities for the family.
On the whole, wives have to take care of her husband’s social life as that is their obvious duties is an interesting, and adequately logical point. In order to nurture a relationship inside and outside the house, it is understandable that a wife will take care of the children, and prepare to welcome the guests like the article mentions. However, the tasks should be shared equally for both husband and wife. In this situation, women not only put their children to bed, but also have to treat her husband and his friends at the same time. A wife is no longer one member of the family. She has to take the role of a mother, a babysitter, and a maid. For example, there are some clear overstatements appearing in the article: “makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are offered a second helping of food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary.” Are those truly exaggerations or not? Certainly, a man cannot succeed in society while he does not know how to take care of himself and his family. Besides, manners are one of the most important factors to evaluate a man. His behavior can affect the way people look at him. It can also show a man’s respect for his colleagues and partner. Seemingly, if wives and husbands support each other in the social life aspect, the conjugal relationship will be built up effectively. Additionally, in these times, with open-mindedness, wives and husbands tend to keep a part of their social life privately which asserts further the importance of sharing and tender care in the family.
As stated intentionally in the essay, the list of responsibilities that women have to take points out their important role in the family and society. In this current case, Brady starts the list by repeating “I want a wife” to speak up for women’s appreciation and emphasize her attitude for the current circumstances. In the 19th century, the world, especially the United States, used to accept inequality without realizing that it inevitably would cause conflict and distance in the family relationship. When women ask for their recognition themselves, Brady as a wife uses men and husbands’ views to support that “request.” In that way, she not only shows her understanding of men but also strengthens her opinions. For example, the article provides many small and detailed emotional abilities that a wife has to have such as “care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school,” “listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point,” “sensitive to my sexual needs,” “passionately” and “eagerly” but “will not demand.” The author makes readers think about the question that do men have to be “sensitive” as their wives are? Apparently, women deserve admiration for both their tasks and “sensitive” emotions. Under present standpoints, it might be unfair to men because some of them still support their wives and share the housework. However, thanks for “I Want A Wife,” people have started thinking about raising supportive love in the family relationship.
Judy Brady asserts many revolutionary ideas about wives and family members’ responsibilities. Her tone is critical, but also urgent to encourage feminist movement. Back in 1970, everything mentioned in the article is perspicuous, but with today’s modern perspective, Brady’s opinions and criticism could be considered unequal to some men. “I Want a Wife” is also a direct call for women’s recognition. After all, the article shows that mutual love and support are the best effective contribution to equality, especially equality in the family.