The Inequalities Of A Household In Judy Brady’s I Want A Wife
One of the most influential movements throughout our history stemmed from the idea that women were inferior to men. With women longing to be more than second class citizens, the feminist movement was born. There were many influential people, and portrayals that helped lead the movement forward. Much like the essay, “I Want a Wife” written by feminist Judy Brady. The essay provides a humorous yet important illustration of the inequality of women. Written in the middle of the feminist movement, the inequalities of a household are highlighted to express the frustrated duties of an “ideal” wife, using sarcasm as a vehicle. It becomes important to understand why the roles of sarcasm, repetition, feminism, and gender inequality, helps the essay connect emotionally to all.
To strengthen a connection to her audience, Brady uses repetition and sarcasm as a vehicle. Her repetitive use of “I want a wife” is not a literal meaning but used to better illustrate the unreasonable demands of a husband. She further illustrates her frustrations with her duties using sarcasm. This helps the readers empathize with Brady’s point of view, and potentially helped sway wives to take a stand against the inequalities in their marriages. However, the best way to understand and connect with “I Want A Wife,” is to understand the feminism concept.
Feminism is the movement that helped liberate women from the inequalities established against them. The movement came in the form of three waves that spread across many decades. In the article “Feminism: An Overview” written by Stacy Floyd Thomas, an Associate Professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt Divinity school, states “each wave depicts the social climate to which women were relegated and the approaches they took to obtain their inalienable rights as full citizens in America.” To understand what feminism is, allows the reader to experience the full atmosphere of Brady’s essay.
The atmosphere becomes important to the essay because it helps visualize the experiences Brady refers to. It helps by providing clues to the true meaning behind the essay. For example, Brady states “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.” For someone who does not know about the feminist movement, may not be able to identify with the author. They could potentially pass judgment, wondering why Brady did not just leave the situation instead of complaining about it. If the reader was aware of the movement, then they would understand the difference between the roles of husband and wife.
In 1971, the duties between husband and wife were not vastly different than they are today. However, the demands of a wife were considered the normality for the time. Women were expected to cook, clean, make appointments, entertain, and take care of the kids. They were expected to do their duties without complaints, and for decades they did. Women had been conditioned to be submissive to men by such means as “powerful post World War II propaganda, such as advertising campaigns, encouraging women to seek husbands, settle down, and have babies”.
The duties of the husbands were much simpler. Their soul duty to the household was to provide income, and the necessities for survival. Throughout Brady’s essay, she supplies us with an abundant array of examples, as to the lack of responsibilities husbands offered to the relationship; such as “If, by chance I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another. Naturally, I will expect a fresh new life; my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free”.
With the knowledge of feminism, and the detailed glimpse into the separated roles, makes Brady’s representation of inequality hard to miss. It strengthens her point to stop the unrealistic expectations of wives by their husbands. Brady’s strongest example is when she states, “My god, who wouldn’t want a wife?” She emulates that women could and should have the opportunity to have lives identical to their counterparts. Or in the very least, share the duties of the household equally.
Fast forward almost fifty years later, and the inequalities between husband and wife is now considered a ghostly concept. Although, stereotypical gender roles have not vanished completely, it has become socially acceptable for women to work, and sometimes even become the sole provider of the family. Some men have chosen to become the “housewife” or at the very least, share some of the household duties.
With many influential people paving the way for women’s right; I like to think that Brady lent a helping hand with her depiction of inequality; and although the rights of women have come a long way, there remain some inequalities to this day. The only difference between then, and now is women can choose how they want to live their lives, without fear of prejudice, and that remains the most important part.
Brady, Judy. Judy Brady I Want a Wife.pdf – Google Docs. docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=c3NkdnQub3JnfHRoZS1hY2FkZW1pYy1yZXNvdXJjZS1jZW50ZXItLWFyY3xneDo1ZDY0ODRhYjEzMjVkM2Fj. Accessed 17 June 2020.
Thomas, Stacy Floyd. “Feminism: An Overview.” Encyclopedia of American Studies, Baltimore John Hopkins University Press, 2018, Web. 23 August 2018. www.eas-ref.press.jhu.edu/view?aid=503. Accessed 17 June 2020
Hammond, Kristyn. “American Women in the 50s.” The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey, 9 Apr. 2019, www.theclassroom.com/american-women-50s-9170.html. Accessed 18 June 2020.
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