Roberts Wesleyan College
A “wife” is defined as a “married woman considered in relation (married) to her husband” (Dictionary.com). Throughout the years, the status of a ‘wife’ held little value. Judy Brady's "I Want A Wife” is a satirical piece that explores the traditional roles women play in a family. The purpose of this essay is to provide a crystal clear unbalanced portrayal of the conditions of the common ‘wife’ during the 60’s and 70’s. While Brady outlines a ‘wife's’ responsibilities she introduces her audience to a crucial point: that there is a distinct difference, specifically inequality, between the roles of women and men. Brady's intent is to have her audience look objectively at a husband’s position and his expectations; of what a ‘wife’ is and ought to be. She uses examples of male selfishness in order to convince her audience that male and female roles are unequal. Her audience includes both single and married women. Furthermore, Brady attempts to reach out to single men and husbands by getting them to understand the egocentric expectations they place on a ‘wife.’ Brady's use of skillfully arranged, rhetoric generates a persuasive argument. She uses rhetoric throughout her writing with appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. In the introduction, Brady uses ethos as a means to establish a sense of credibility by revealing her position as a ‘wife.’ “I belong to the classification of people known as wives,” she says, which allows her argument to be more convincing than if she had been an unmarried woman (as qtd in, Barnet & Bedau, 2008, p. 978). Brady immediately confirms her credibility. She shows her audience she is qualified to inform the reader of the detailed roles of the wife and husband. Because Brady establishes herself as a ‘wife,’ it allows her audience to trust her knowledge and firsthand experience. She knows what it is like to be a woman and ‘wife.’ “Not altogether incidentally,” she says she is a mother as well, which gives her argument even greater credence (as qtd in, Barnet & Bedau, 2008, p. 978). As a result, the claims regarding children are considerably more believable. She says, for instance, “I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean” (as qtd in, Barnet & Bedau, 2008, p. 978). Brady proceeds to list several duties that pertain to child rearing. She satirically mocks her duties as a nurturing mother by overly caring for and encouraging the growth of her children. Brady successfully used satire to grab the attention of her reader’s. For the duration of Brady's article, she uses pathos to triggers the reader’s emotions. She satirically goes on to persuade the audience with her propositions of what a wife would do for her. She addresses the stresses of everyday life and amplified expectations of a husband. For example, the author stresses how the husband assumes the mother of his children will undertake all the primary responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. The author compares and contrasts the husband’s independence by stating that wives are obligated to resign from their jobs and “more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties” at home (as qtd in, Barnet & Bedau, 2008, p. 979). Brady is describing the picture perfect woman who is obedient, while she lovingly supports her husband and children; regardless of her feelings and where she is left standing at the end. As a result, the ‘wife’ is a real slave to her husbands and families needs. Brady concludes her argument by asserting bluntly, “My God, who would not want a wife?” (as qtd in, Barnet &Bedau, 2008, p. 979). After she reminds her audience of the expectations placed on a married woman such as, a mother, nurse, housekeeper and cook. Brady infers in her ending question that wives are just as valuable and important than men. After all a wife is just a personal assistant who keeps your life stable. The irony and clear-cut sarcasm Brady uses effectively sets the tone for the piece while generating feelings of sympathy, fulfillment, irritation, overwhelming responsibilities, needs, etc. Furthermore, Brady incorporates logos by using facts to compare duties between men and women. The audience perceives Brady to be someone who is well enlightened about her subject material. Utilizing logos includes Brady’s in depth summary of the distinct roles of a husband and the socially acceptable roles of a ‘wife’ in a traditional marriage. Case in point, “I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties, but I want a wife who will listen to me...” (as qtd in, Barnet & Bedau, 2008, p. 978). Brady’s logos is an illustration of how men are selfish and do not care about anyone but themselves. She portrays a husband as an overly assertive head honcho, and the wife as a passive servant. It is apparent that Brady is clear and concise in her writing, which in turn makes her piece logical. “I Want A Wife,” by Judy Brady, was written during the height of the feminist movement. Women were rising and actively speaking out for the right to be equal to their male counterpart. I believe that Brady and the majority of women were fed up with being looked upon as second-class citizens to men. She stresses her claim that the roles of women are unequal to the role of men. Her faint sarcasm is enough to prove her point of view regarding the unfair roles of women. In this article, Brady repeatedly uses the pronoun “I” (67 times to be exact). I believe Brady highlights her frustration and aspiration that might have been fulfilled, if she received adequate help with all her wifely duties. I feel as though wives and mother are left unappreciated and devalued. Consequently, a married woman gains her identity as a ‘wife’ and mother in return for her own dreams and desires. However, by showing gratitude to wives and mothers may give them a sense of worth.
Barnet, S. & Bedau, H. (2008). I want a wife. In J. Sullivan & K. Cardone (Eds.) , Current issues and enduring questions: A guide to critical thinking and argument, with readings (pp 978-979). Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s. wife. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved January 31, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wife