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I Want a Wife by Judy Brady

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​Every small aspect of life, whether consciously or unconsciously, is assigned a gender role. From dressing up to working long jobs, gender plays a big part in the basic activities of daily life. Gender roles have been present since the beginning of time, influencing people’s expectations and perceptions of the correct way of life. Although these roles generally restrict women’s actions, they also place great responsibilities and expectations on them. In her essay, Judy Brady depicts the differences between the expected roles of women, more specifically wives, in society when compared to men. She employs satire to describe the stress on housewives and mothers from the persona of a man. Judy Brady argues that the life of a husband is very relaxing and privileged because of the responsibilities and expectations associated with the title “wife”.

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​Throughout her essay, Brady uses the appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos to state all the duties of a wife that she has had to or is expected to perform. She shows how hardworking and valuable wives are. They are expected to “do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up”, while the husbands enjoy the hospitality. Similarly, it is stated in plannedparenthood.org, “People expect that women will take care of the children, cook, and clean the home, while men take care of finances, work on the car, and do the home repairs.” Gender roles place the entire responsibility of the family, children, and house on wives. Judy Brady makes evident the vast duties of a wife, though the persona of a man. She also recalls an encounter with a friend who was looking for a wife. “Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is looking for another wife.” (Brady). Brady’s friend was in search of a wife that could care for him, his child, and his house. His search for a wife manifested the idea that men and children were both dependent on women for food, an organized household, and other basic needs. The role of the wife was only to provide for them, and nothing more. This inspired Brady’s male persona in her essay, allowing her to look at the role of wives through the eyes of the men on the receiving end of a wife’s constant care.

​Brady’s use of repetition, especially of the phrase “I want a wife”, shows how men only see their wives as slaves to their needs. Brady says, “I, too, would like a wife.” She states the many things she could do with her life, the independence she could have, if only she had a wife. Brady continues to state any roles of a wife, or rather the wife she wishes to have. She says, “My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that.” Gender roles also expect wives to make many sacrifices for the benefit of the family. “Traditionally, the wife works a part-time or full-time job until she has children; at that point, she leaves behind her job or career to stay at home and raise her kids. In most marriages, most household responsibilities fall on the wife’s shoulders, including cooking and cleaning.” (Pietroluongo). Women are expected to constantly work and must give up any extra time to provide for their children and husband. They sacrifice all their hard work to provide for their dependent husbands. Brady’s constant repetition of “I want a wife” shows how much a wife does and how much is expected of her from the husband. The word “wife” is referred to as an object. Throughout the essay, the “wife” lacks pronouns, emphasizing the significance of women’s objectification, thought of as the pronoun “it”.

​Brady employs sarcasm and irony to list the many expectations associated with being a wife and show how selfish and sexist ideas of men are prevalent. By adopting the persona of a male, she describes the many demands of husbands, “I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track time of mine, too.” The husband, like the child, expects to be taken care of and spoon-fed. The gender roles associated with being a wife completely take over the wife’s life, creating a long list of expectations to keep the family running. As stated in CliffsNotes, “These gender schemas are deeply embedded cognitive frameworks regarding what defines masculine and feminine. They determine how males and females should think, speak, dress, and interact within the context of society.” Because of gender roles, men have expectations for their wives from the beginning of their marriage. Brady uses irony in her acknowledgment of a wife’s tiresome job. She wants “her wife” to go on vacation so she can continue to care for the rest of the family while they relax. The wife, although on vacation with the rest, doesn’t receive the same break because her job is continuous. Brady ends her essay by saying, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” Her sarcasm portrays the great importance of a wife. Although not everyone wants a wife, everyone wants someone to carry the vast responsibilities of a wife.

Brady, through the persona of a man, demonstrates a man’s wishes to have a wife. She suggests in her essay that the term “wife” be associated with so many overwhelming responsibilities. By introducing herself as a wife, Brady enhances her pathos, wishing to have a wife to care for her the way she’s expected to care for her family. She suggests that husbands are more relaxed and privileged because they expect wives to care for all aspects of their lives. Brady argues that if she had a wife, she would be able to become more economically independent and relaxed. The term “wife” is associated with countless responsibilities ranging from household chores to daily jobs and family care.    

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