Judy Brady Doesn’t Want a Wife: A Definitional Essay

Published: 2021-06-28 16:10:04
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Category: Relationships

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In “I Want a Wife”, feminist Icon Judy Brady states that she wants a wife, because a wife will meet all her needs and desires, while demanding little of her in return. Yet Brady’s definition of “wife” is shallow and unrealistic. Real wives are not always subservient. Many place their own demands on husbands and refuse the obligation of meeting their husbands’ expectations. In healthy marriages, wives work alongside their husbands and partners in a cooperative effort to survive and/or reproduce and raise children. In reality, Judy Brady does not want a wife. She wants a robot.
Defining “Wife”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “wife” as “a female partner in a marriage.” In its examples of how the term is used, it includes, “a husband and wife who treat each other as equals in their marriage.” (Merriam-Webster) Oxford Dictionaries, meanwhile, defines the term “partner” as someone “Who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.” (Oxford Dictionaries) It defines “slave” as, “person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation.” A wife, then, might be best defined as a female partner in a marriage, who is equal to her husband and who shares risks and profits with him.
Criteria
To be considered a true wife, Brady’s significant other would have to meet a specific set of criteria. First, in order to be considered a real wife, Brady’s “wife” would have to be female. Brady’s “wife” does not necessarily meet this requirement. Brady does not use the terms “her” or “she” anywhere in her essay. It is possible, then, that she wants to make a “wife” of a man. Yet if she did, she would be describing a husband, rather than wife.
Secondly, in order to be considered a wife, Brady’s significant other would have to be treated as a partner, rather than a subordinate. She is not. Brady writes, “I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs…I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it.” Brady’s “wife” is therefore not an equal partner. A real wife would have the power and ability to refuse sexual advances when she did not wish to be sexual and she would have just as much right as a husband to sexual pleasure. She would have her own demands and her own strengths. She would not simply accept the dictates of a man, but would, as an equal partner, be allowed to express her desires freely and have them met as much as her husband had his met. This would apply, not just to sex, but to housework and childrearing as well.
Thirdly, to be a “wife” Brady’s partner must share risks and benefits equally with Brady. These things are not shared equally between the two. Brady’s wife takes all the risks, taking time away from her job and losing pay in order to help Brady excel at her career. Brady reaps all of the benefits in the relationship she discusses. She gets to take time out when she needs it and to work when it is convenient for her. She demands that her “wife” take care of the children singlehandedy. She expects her wife to organize her things and to keep her children clean and healthy. Yet she offers nothing to this wife in return. She demands that the wife not complain about the hardship of her duties, but that she (or he) listen carefully to her own struggles.
Brady’s wife, then, is not a wife as the term is commonly understood today. Some might suggest that the term wife was used to refer to a more subordinate relationship in earlier times. It is true that wives have sometimes been made subordinate throughout history and that women – even wives – have not always been treated as equals. Women did not, for instance, have the right to vote until long after men had it. Yet, today, wives in America are not expected to be subordinates. They are, instead, equal partners who share risks and rewards with their husbands. The person Brady describes is not a wife, but a slave.

References
Merriam-Webster. “Wife.” 2015. Merriam Webster. Online. 01 January 2016.
Oxford Dictionaries. “Partner.” 2016. Oxford Dictionaries: Language Matters. Online. 03 January 2016.

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