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Gender Studies: “I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020

Biographical Information

Judy Brady was born in 1937 in San Francisco, California. In 1962 she graduated from the University of Iowa and earned a bachelor degree in painting. She had been married for several years and had two daughters. In 1969 Judy Brady joined a women’s movement. Today she is known as a feminist author writing about such issues as gender roles, cancer, and environment protection. Judy Brady is an activist and a freelance author. She performed as an editor for “Women and Cancer” published in 1990 and “One in Three: Women with Cancer Confront an Epidemic” released in 1991.

She also worked at Greenpeace Magazine promoting various environmental issues of the modern days. Her essay called “I Want a Wife” was written in a satirical key and published in 1972. It first saw the world from the pages of “Ms. Magazine”. The essay reflected the lifestyle of a typical wife during the 1970s and was a very radical and fresh point of view for that time. Later, in 1990, the article was reprinted with a title “Why I Still Want a Wife” (Judy Brady, par. 1).

General Summary

The essay “I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady is designed to demonstrated the demands and pressure put on married women by their husbands and the society. The author shows what men want to see in a good wife. She writes, “I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me”(Brady, par. 4). The author skillfully employs the device of repetition in order to emphasize all the multiple duties a wife has.

Brady’s writing shows the one-sided perspective on the structure of the household and family life. By means of rhetorical strategies such as repetition, complex sentences and definition, the author delivers her point of view on the male way of thinking (Laury, 22). Using satire, Brady shows how unrealistic husband’s expectations of a perfect wife can be. She writes, “I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints… But I want a wife who will listen to me” (Brady, par. 5). The author portrays a family life as a very unfair and uneven relationship, where a woman has to take care of her children, her house, her work, her husband and all of his needs and desires.

Brady’s essay is built in a way that, basically, makes a husband look like another child a woman is to tend to, he is shown as a person who cannot or will not take care of himself because this is not his duty. Brady’s essay matches the duties of the husband against the duties of the wife showing that a woman’s everyday life is cluttered with a large range of obligations, rules and limitations in order to fit into the image of a good wife.

Relationship to Today’s Society

Gender roles and marriage today are very different from what they used to be several decades ago, a woman is no longer seen as an attribute of her man, at the same time, even today there are still people that believe that a woman’s main function is to be a good wife.

It is a well known fact that old fashioned idea about marriage and the roles of the spouses in it was very different from the contemporary one. A wife was seen as a mainly domesticated person was not supposed to have a career of her own. Her main duties were to solely take care of the children, and make sure that the house is clean and the husband is happy. This image of a good wife started to be widely promoted after the end of the Second World War.

For the period of the war, when men were gone, women had to take over most of the male jobs (Stoneham, par. 1). After the war was over and men came back, women started to be persistently encouraged to abandon their careers and become housewives. Television played a big role in the process of promotion of the female adherence to her new role airing advertisements and TV shows such as “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”, where Harriet was either shown making food or serving it.

Many women had to become housewives and play the role of Harriet in real life. As a result, their sons grew up having an idea that this kind of behavior was the only right function for a woman. Their first and most important example of a female in the house was their mother, whose role was limited to tending to the house, making and serving meals, constantly cleaning up and selflessly making sure that the husband is happy, rested and comfortable all the time. Judy Brady’s essay points out that a woman has to be working non-stop even when the family is going to the nature to relax or when they are enjoying the company of guests.

The generations of men that were born and raised in such families naturally believe that women were meant to be wives and wives were meant to take care of their husbands and homes. Feminist movements that started to massively occur in the United States and Europe during the 1960’s shifted the common perception of gender roles and functions and caused multiple debates and disagreements. Logically, most men were unhappy with such course of events and turned against feminism. Besides, many women were used to their typical roles and afraid of the new opportunities and responsibilities, this is why they never sympathized with any women’s movements.

Personal Evaluation

Judy Brady’s essay is certainly a very powerful work presenting a new for that time perspective on the duties of men and women in the society. “I Want a Wife” is written from the point of view of a woman overloaded with responsibilities, housework and her job. This woman states how convenient it is to have a wife that is to eagerly make sure that you are all the time happy, rested, comfortable and satisfied. The author notes that under these circumstances she would like to have a wife too. Brady appropriately employs the rhetorical strategy of repetition to emphasize the never-ending to-do list of a wife. The enumeration of a woman’s duties is given from the male point of view satirically noticing how spoiled and picky some men became provided with all the freedom and power of being a husband and a man in the society.

Terminology

  1. adherence (n) –fidelity, devotion
  2. clutter (v) – to fill something with many things
  3. eagerly (adj) – in a very excited and interested way
  4. incidentally (adv) – by the way
  5. mend (v) – to fix
  6. monogamy (n) – a custom of being married to only one person
  7. solely (adv) – only or just
  8. sympathize (v) – to feel compassionate or sorry

Works Cited

Brady, Judy.. n. d. Web.

Judy Brady. . 2003. Web.

Laury, Jabriel. “I Want a Wife”. Literary Café. Ed. James Madison High School. Raleigh, North Carolina: Lulu, n. d. 22. Print.

Stoneham, Nina. n. d. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Gender Studies: "I Want a Wife" by Judy Brady'. 14 June.

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