Gender Roles in Brady’s “Why I Want a Wife” and Sacks’ “Stay-at-Home Dads” Essay
Updated: Jan 30th, 2021
Gender roles as well as stereotypes about them have been examined in many works of literature or sociological studies. This paper will compare and contrast Judy Brady’s essay Why I Want a Wife with the essay Stay-at-Home Dads by Glenn Sacks. Both authors examine traditional social expectations that are set for men and women.
Yet, there are some distinctions Judy Brady believes that women are often viewed as unpaid house servants who have to take care of husbands’ needs, whereas Glenn Sacks argues that gender roles begin to transform and that now men can also dedicate themselves to housework or upbringing of a child; however, such behavior may not be fully understood by others. Based on these essays, one can advance a thesis that gender stereotypes are still prevalent in modern society and that every person who tries to challenge them, will be regarded as deviant by others.
Brief Explanation of Why I Want a Wife
In her work, Judy Brady enumerates the duties of a wife from a husband’s point of view. She speaks about those things that a woman is allegedly supposed to do, for instance, she ought to “keep clothes clean, ironed, mended” or “take care of children” (Brady, 275). The thing is that she must not ask for anything in return. The author portrays a grotesque male stereotype about women according to which wives are almost held in servitude by their husbands. She concludes her essay by asking a rhetorical question, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” (Brady, 275).
Brief Explanation of Stay-at-Home Dads
In his turn, Glenn Sacks also acknowledges that men often expect their wives to be caregivers; yet, he also points out that modern women have become more self-sufficient at least from a financial point of view and that they can become breadwinners in the family (Sacks, 277). The main argument that the author expresses is that some men might be willing to stay-at-home parents, but such behavior may not be tolerated by other males. Overall, judging from his essay, one can say that gender roles gradually become less marked or delineated.
First comparative point
There are some important similarities and distinctions in these two texts. First of all, both authors agree with the idea that some strictly defined expectations are set for both sexes. These expectations are closely related to such aspects of family life as breadwinning, housework, child care, and so forth. Yet, Judy Brady believes that men are quite content with such gender expectations, whereas Glenn Sacks shows that some husbands can help their wives with household tasks. One can also observe in her essay Brady depicts a purely patriarchal family in which every decision is taken by a husband, while Glenn Sacks depicts a more egalitarian couple sharing rights and responsibilities.
Second comparative point
Both writers believe that some specific duties are determined by gender, for instance, household work, child upbringing, or money-making. Nonetheless, Judy Brady’s essay implies that many modern women are dependent on their husbands, whereas Glenn Sacks considers a married couple to be a form of partnership in which people can “gravitate towards what they want in life” (Sacks, 278). Overall, he speaks about the shift of gender roles which gave rise to such a phenomenon as househusbands.
However, one should take into account that the so-called “stay-at-home dads” usually become very alienated from their peers and friends who may believe them to be either effeminate or even lazy (Lee, 122). Moreover, one should not forget that a great number of men are afraid of losing their power status. It should be noted that power status is a social construct and it is an indispensable attribute of masculinity, at least in popular opinion (Pink, 119). While Judy Brady creates a fictional husband who does not want to challenge social norms, Glenn Ross shows that there are men who can reject sexual stereotypes.
Third comparative point
There is another important distinction that one should not overlook. Judy Brady’s ironic representation of a married couple suggests that there is no emotional attachment between many modern husbands and wives. The relationships of these people are driven by sexual needs rather than affection. In contrast, Glenn Sacks does not exclude emotional affinity from family life. He points out that such duties as a child’s upbringing can bring emotional pleasure to a husband.
Thus, one can argue that these families differ in terms of power relations, emotional affection, and attitude toward social norms and rules. The husband portrayed by Judy Brady is egoistic, inattentive, probably promiscuous, and quite lazy. Furthermore, her ironic essays imply that modern wives are often forced to be docile and completely engulfed by household duties, In his turn, Glenn Sacks describes married couples as people who have more or less equal duties and responsibilities. However, in each of these cases, there are certain pre-determined forms of behavior that are typical of either men or women. Those people, who do not comply with these norms, can become marginalized by others. This is the theme that is present in each of these articles.
Brady, Judy. “Why I Want a Wife”. The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen, Mandell. New York: Prentice-Hall. 2011. 275-277. Print.
Lee, Janice. Psychology of gender identity. NY: Nova Publishers, 2005. Print.
Pink, Sarah. Home truths: gender, domestic objects, and everyday life. London: Berg. 2004. Print.
Sacks, Glenn. “Stay-at-Home Dads: A Practical Solution to the Career Woman’s Dilemma”. The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen, Mandell. New York: Prentice-Hall. 2011. 277-279. Print.
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