Judy Brady’s essay I Want a Wife generally applies several anecdotes to explore the demands of being a wife and gender roles and expectations. Speaking from her own experience, Brady is bitter about how demanding being a wife is and how the same demands are not expected of men. Overall, Brady’s concern is that the imbalance between gender roles and exaggerated expectations leaves women disadvantaged, hence emphasizing gender inequality within families and in society.
Brady applies satire to address the burdens of being a wife and make her argument compelling to evoke engagement in the audience. Besides, the author’s style and article’s structure combine ethos, pathos, and logos to address the overall theme of female suppression in society. Therefore, the author successfully appeals to the readers’ emotions, reason, and values, which garners sympathy for the author and women, especially when gender equality, women empowerment or suffrage, and the civil rights movement were a priority for society.
The author appeals to pathos to persuade the reader by purposely evoking sympathy and making them feel what the author feels about women being overburdened. Brady uses personal experience and a satirical tone to discuss the exaggerated expectations society expects from wives. The author’s concern is motivated by how easy it is for men to move into new marriages because they do not bear the same burdens and responsibilities as women.
Brady writes, “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). The male friend’s situation makes Brady realize that men expect so much from wives as the family’s support system, who have to take care of children, address familial needs, manage the household, and support the husband to achieve his dreams. The societal expectation of a wife to multitask and be indispensable to the man and the family is the source of Brady’s frustration, inviting the audience to see things from her point of view by appealing to pathos throughout the essay.
Brady also appeals to logic by appealing to the reader’s sense of reason particularly by providing facts. The examples the author provides are suitable for the overall argument and fit perfectly in the 1970s when the article was written. Men and society have various perspectives on the roles and responsibilities of wives even if the expectations suppress women more than men. Brady argues that marriage transforms men and women differently and the transformation disfavors the latter more. Women must take care of household duties, seek opinions from their husbands, fulfill all needs, be available and supportive, and be responsible wives.
The 1970s saw much of the women’s rights movement’s efforts and marches focus on pushing for gender equality in universities and workplaces. Feminists specifically sought more hospitable spaces for women and created more policies to create equal opportunities and ban sexual harassment. I Want a Wife contributed to the women’s suffrage protests in this period, although on a different front. The author’s realistic demands resonated with many women and defined the women’s movement as a feminist classic that highlighted gender imbalance, a problem that persists today.
Furthermore, the author appeals to credibility by tapping into the readers’ ideologies and values, especially dignity for all, feminism, and equality. Brady explores the various roles in different sectors in the essay but maintains the words “I want a wife” for each to highlight the sarcasm and humor to maintain the essay’s overall objective to sensitize the audience about female suppression. In the introduction, Brady uses her personal experience to get the audience to understand her general argument and to make her feelings about the issue known. In paragraph one Brady lists the maternal roles of a wife, including being an excellent nurturant, organizing the children’s social life, and addressing the children’s health needs, among others.
The second paragraph addresses the wife’s domestic roles, like cleaning the house, keeping clothes clean, ironing grocery shopping, and relieving her husband’s stress and pain. The third paragraph explores the wife’s mechanical responsibilities, where she has to understand and explain her husband’s difficulties and type papers the husband writes. In paragraph 4, Brady explains the social roles and expectations, including playing hostess to her husband’s friends, meeting the man’s acquaintances, and not interrupting conversations.
The sixth paragraph explores the wife’s sexual responsibilities, such as sexually satisfying the man, birth control, and remaining faithful. Lastly, Brady discusses the woman’s disposable or replaceable role in case the husband wants a new partner, including raising the children independently (Brady). The structure allows Brady to explore women as unequal partners in marriage and contribute extensively to the female suppression theme.
In conclusion, Brady combines personal experience, logic, and values to discuss a prevalent societal issue in I Want a Wife. Throughout history, society has laid out gender roles and expectations that favor men and suppress women. I Want a Wife is among feminists and women’s suffrage efforts to achieve gender equality and female empowerment. The essay, therefore, achieves the author’s overall objective of enlightening the audience about female suppression within the marriage scope and persuading them to see from her point of view to incentivize sympathy.
Brady, Judy. “Why I want a wife.” 75 Readings: An Anthology (1972): 325-327.