We All Need Wives
Women’s rights and feminism has been an issue in the American culture for many years. The first Woman’s Rights Convention was held in New York in 1948 after women were not able to give their opinions about slavery at Anti-Slavery Conventions (The Woman’s Rights Movement). Now, 168 years later, many people still feel that women do not have equal rights and opportunities that men do. The feminist movement is an important part of our time and people, both men and women, will keep fighting for equality between men and women.
In the spring of 1971, Judy Brady wrote an essay in the first issue of the feminist magazine called Ms. Brady’s essay was titled “I Want A Wife” and she described the roles of a wife in the 1970’s. Brady also gave examples of how she wanted a wife because of everything that a wife takes care of. Brady gave examples of things that a wife would do in everyday life, as well as the roles of a wife in special situations, like at a dinner party or on a vacation. The way Brady described a wife was very powerful to feminists in the 70’s.
The roles of women have changed drastically since Brady wrote her essay, but many people still believe that a woman’s role is to be a wife. Many believe that a wife’s role is to stay at home to take care of the house and the children. We are at a point in time where that role isn’t always the case. I believe that Brady’s essay was a way for people to rethink what the roles of a wife were.
In rhetorical terms, the aspects of the rhetorical situation and power are present in this essay. There are many ways this essay could be interpreted, but I believe that Brady had an idea of how she wanted people to interpret the essay. We will now dig deeper into what Brady was writing about, in terms of being a wife, when it came to aspects of the rhetorical situation and how power is examined in the essay.
The rhetorical situation includes eight elements; exigence, persons, relations, location, speaker, audience, method, and institutions (Rhetorica ). Exigence refers to what happens, or doesn’t happen, that causes someone to talk about the action (Rhetorica). The aspect of persons refers to who is involved in the exigence of the rhetorical situation and what the roles of the people are (Rhetorica). Relations refers to the relationships between the people involved are, focusing on relationships in power (Rhetorica,1). Location refers to where the site of discourse was and where the artifact appeared (Rhetorica). The speaker is the person who is presenting the information in the way that they are presenting it, through writing, a speech, or an image and the audience is who the speaker is trying to get their point across to (Rhetorica). The method is the way that the speaker decides to present the information and institutions are the rules for the elements of rhetoric (Rhetorica). In Brady’s essay, all aspects of the rhetorical situation are present but I will focus on exigence, audience, and method.
When it comes to exigence, someone would feel like they need to speak about the essay because Brady is giving the job description of a wife. She does not explain these duties in a gentle way. She lists all of the duties of a wife when it comes to raising children, keeping the house clean, making sure everyone is where they need to be and when they need to be there, the duties of a host, and even the wife’s sexual duties. One example is when Brady states, “I want a wife who will not bother me with complaints about a wife’s duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course of studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them (Brady, 508).” This could cause one to speak out because it is clear the wife has many duties while the other person’s duties only consist of educational duties. Just because the wife is a wife does not mean that the wife should have to do the long list of things that Brady has described and it may compel someone to speak out.
When it comes to Brady’s audience, the essay is aimed toward people with beliefs that the role of a woman does not just take place in the home, doing all of the planning for the family and taking care of all of the family member’s needs. Brady states: “I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children special care…” (Brady, 507). This quote indicates that a wife’s job is to take care of the children and to make sure everything goes smoothly in the home. The member of the audience would appreciate this quote if the audience member disagreed that a wife needs to be the only one worrying about the well-being of the children. Brady’s audience can really be anyone who read her essay, but I believe she aimed it at people who have feminist views, especially because the essay first appeared in the feminist magazine called Ms.
I believe that Brady used a very unique method in writing this essay. Again, the method refers to how the speaker chooses to address the members of the audience (Rhetorica). Brady’s essay has a sort of sarcastic tone to me. She goes on and on with the duties that the wife has while the partner is at school. It seems like everything that could possibly be done in a household is listen in her essay. The essay makes it seem like the wife is the only person who can get anything done in the house and the partner only needs to bring home a paycheck to keep the house financially stable. Brady doesn’t seem to be portraying a negative message toward the wife, but more towards the wife’s partner. Not only does the wife need to take care of the house and the children, but the wife also needs to take care of the partner. This is evident when Brady states, “I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it (Brady, 508). I believe that Brady chose her words very carefully because she wanted her audience to realize that this was, in most cases, the role of a wife in the 70s. Many people did not agree with the way a wife was portrayed and people wanted to make a change. This essay was provided evidence for a wife doing much of the household work, taking care of the children, and taking care of the wife’s partner. The way Brady wrote this essay could definitely have made a member of the audience want to speak out.
Brady’s essay was written in the 1970’s and many of the duties of a wife are still the same today. Many people with feminist views do not think it is right for a wife to have all of these duties with absolutely no help from a partner. Brady demonstrated all aspects of the rhetorical situation, but I focused on exigence, audience, and method were all very important aspects which definitely got Brady’s point across. People could have interpreted Brady’s essay in any way, but I believe many people interpreted it in a similar way, especially if the audience members were people with feminist views. Brady’s essay was a powerful artifact that could have opened the eyes of many people who had certain views of a wife and her roles.
Brady, Judy. "I Want A Wife." The Essay Connection. Comp. Lynn Z. Bloom. 6th. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. 507-10. Print.
"Rhetorical Situation and Kairos." Rhetorica. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb 02 2012. <http://rhetorica.net/kairos.htm>.
"The Woman's Rights Movement." . N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar 2012. <http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/abolitn/wmhp.html>.
Author: Greta B.
Judy Brady is the author of the essay ‘I want a Wife’. Women have undergone a lot of gender discrimination and stereotyping, a position that Brandy strongly exposes. She depicts this aspect using a lot of honesty and humor, rejecting the fact that there is an equal treatment to women as it is to men.
In the American culture, feminism and women’s rights has been an issue over the years. There were various conventions on women’s rights held in New York. This was sparked off by the fact women were not given space and a chance to express their feelings about anti slavery. This was back then in 1948. Currently, many people are still of the opinion that women are not accorded equal rights as the males and that they have limited opportunities. This gender parity feeling has led to a tussle of equality between the male and female. This is what inspired Brandy in writing her essay.
In the essay which she wrote in 1971, Brandy described the various roles of women in the society. She ironically states her reasons of wanting a wife based on the tasks that the wife is usually burdened with doing in the daily life. She further moves to discussing the roles of wives in peculiar circumstances including in vocations and dinner parties. In her essay, Brandy brands a wife as a very powerful being in the earth. All that she was trying to explain is the fact that the female gender is greatly disadvantaged and that the role of women is simply to be wives and companions of the men. However, since she wrote her essay, I tend to believe that this role of the women in the society has changed. Despite this fact, a lot of people to date still hold onto the fact that women are not equally treated as the men are. In the essay, Brandy was offering food for thought. She was challenging the society to rethink what the roles of the women in the society are.
Brandy’s explanation of the duties of women is not gentle. She portrays the duties as being a great burden to the wife. For instance, she speaks of the duties of the wife being to raise the children well, to ensure that the house is clean, monitoring the movements and locations of everyone and ensuring that everyone is whenever he or she is supposed to be at the correct time and doing the right thing. She touches on the sexual duties of the wife, insinuating the aspect of wives being used as sexual tools by the men.
Brandy uses an example in her essay, stating that she wants a wife who will not be bothered by complaining about her duties. She further states her desire to have a wife that listens all along. She says that she wants a wife who will help in the typing work of her papers and help with the research of her work. In this case, Brandy depicts the fact that the duties of the wife are varied while that of the male is strictly academic or educational duties. This creates a perception that the wife should not be burdened with a lot of duties simply because she is a wife. Brandy’s essay basically touches on the fact that the women gender is discriminated against and is seen as a minor gender as compared to men. In the essay, she dwells on the tasks that women do have and speaks less on the burden on men. The picture created is the female gender is supposed to be offering a helping hand to the male gender in a more disadvantaged situation.
Brandy states at some point that she is in need of a wife who will attend to the children well, arranges for the schooling of the children, takes them out to the zoo and parks and takes care of their social life among other responsibilities. She further states her desire for a wife who shall be responsible and concerned about the kids in the event that they fall sick and who takes care of them in special needs. In saying this, Brandy aims at explaining the fact that the responsibility of the wife is often taking care of children and ensuring that there is a smooth running of things in the home. I think the roles that she highlights do not compromise on equality and opportunities of the female gender, what she explains is more of the motherly responsibility as opposed to gender parity. However, I believed her main aim was to target those who bear feminist views.
I think Brandy was successful in addressing her stance on gender parity. Her unique style of writing in which she uses a speaker to address the audience was on point. The sarcasm in the tone of her essay creates that feeling of consideration for a second thought about the position of the females in the society. She successfully draws the wife as the only person who is always looked at and considered being able to take care of virtually everything in the home.
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