Essay: ‘I Want a Wife’ by Judy Brady Summary

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"I Want a Wife" is a satirical essay written by Judy Brady in 1971 that delves into the societal expectations and inequalities faced by women in marriage. Through a clever and humorous narrative, Brady assumes the role of a wife who lists all the attributes she desires in her ideal partner. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the essay is not about Brady herself seeking a wife, but rather a scathing critique of the traditional gender roles and the unequal division of labor within marriages.

The essay begins with the phrase "I belong to that classification of people known as wives," immediately establishing the focus on the societal role of women as wives. Brady then proceeds to list a series of responsibilities and expectations she has for her ideal wife. These expectations encompass a wide range of tasks, including cooking, cleaning, childcare, emotional support, and even acting as a sounding board for her husband's ideas and ambitions.

As the list progresses, the absurdity of the expectations becomes more apparent. Brady uses repetition to emphasize the sheer number of roles that wives are expected to fulfill, highlighting the imbalance in the distribution of responsibilities between husbands and wives. She showcases the deeply ingrained gender biases by contrasting the roles of wives with those of husbands, who are portrayed as benefiting from the labor and sacrifices of their wives without reciprocation.

The essay also touches upon the concept of ownership, as Brady refers to herself and other wives as "someone who will always be there to do what I want when I want it." This language reflects the historical and patriarchal idea of women being treated as possessions or objects of convenience for their husbands.

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Throughout the essay, Brady adopts a satirical tone, using humor to highlight the absurdity of the traditional expectations placed on wives. By assuming the persona of a wife seeking a wife, she challenges readers to consider the implications of these expectations and the underlying assumptions about gender roles.

Furthermore, "I Want a Wife" serves as a call to action, urging readers to question and challenge the status quo. Brady exposes the gender inequalities and double standards that exist in society, specifically within marriages. By using satire, she draws attention to the injustices and unfair burdens placed on women, pushing readers to reevaluate their own attitudes and behaviors towards gender roles.

The essay concludes with a powerful statement that brings home the purpose and message of the essay: "My God, who wouldn't want a wife?" This rhetorical question emphasizes the unbalanced nature of the expectations placed on wives and calls for a reimagining of the roles and responsibilities within marriages.

In conclusion, "I Want a Wife" by Judy Brady is a thought-provoking and humorous critique of the societal expectations placed on women in the context of marriage. Through her satirical approach, Brady sheds light on the gender inequalities and biases prevalent in her time and challenges readers to question their own assumptions about traditional gender roles. The essay serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality and the need for continued progress toward a more equitable society.

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Essay: ‘I Want a Wife’ by Judy Brady Summary. (2024, February 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
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