Matriarchal Misrepresentation

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Raylene Guidry
Matriarchal Misrepresentation

Judy Brady’s essay, “I Want a Wife” was first published in Ms. Magazine in 1971 in support of the feminist movement; initially the essay was written in the hopes that it would create public awareness of the unfair expectations created by the wife stereotype. During the 1970’s American popular culture, women seemed to have no identity besides that of being a family caretaker. In fact, the mere idea of a woman procuring a career was seen as a radical notion throughout the course of history. In addition to being the family caretaker, the wife was generally expected that after a woman had earned her desired education she was to marry, have children and become a loyal servant to her family. Moreover, this expectation was engrained in the minds of the American public by way of popular television shows like “Leave it to Beaver”, which projected the prototypical image of what a wife was expected to be inside the living room of every home. Along with the wife being expected to be the loyal servant, she was also anticipated to be sensitive to the husband's sexual needs. For example, the wife was expected to have sex with her husband even if she was tired or not in the mood. These projections became the accepted norm of how a woman should represent herself once she became a wife/mother. That is, society thinks that the responsibilities of raising children and maintaining a stable home are often solely placed upon the wife; however this kind of stability can only be upheld with the help of the husband and wife together.

One controversial issue Brady disagrees with is society’s assumption that wives were solely expected to maintain the needs of the household, but these needs should be divided among the other family members as well. In Brady’s day and age, wives were often stay-at-home mothers, but in the present American culture, it is more common...
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