I Want a Wife by Judy Syfers
“I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A wife. And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.” (Syfers, 1971) Judy Syfers begins her essay of I Want a Wife by making it clear that she is classified as a mother and a wife but not a man. Being in that position, Syfers delivers an idea which indicates that women, specifically wives, are expected to implement various kind of responsibilities set by the society when they get home from work. Syfers spoke sarcastically going on and on with the duties that a wife has without mentioning the partner. While I express sympathy to Syfers’ view, I strongly oppose that women are responsible and supposed to do all of these duties.
One of the many themes Syfers expresses in this essay is about the unrealistic demands that are required and desired from a wife. She emphasizes that the role of a wife is unfair to the role of a household and she is listing down a list of tasks that are frustrating her. At the end of the essay Syfers (1971) wrote, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” and I think that she is exaggerating at this point that every man desires an ideal wife is meant to be servile as a useful tool. In my perspective, the role of a husband is just as significant as a wife.
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The role of a husband includes supporting the family financially by working hard in a full-time job. The husband is obligated to be the leader of the family and the breadwinner that brings home the bacon. A husband must balance household chores and office workload by sacrificing their dreams working a nine-to-five job, spending their time in front of a computer or finding potential customers and clients. These husbands do not complain to their wives and families for ruining their dreams, but they humbly support the family and work faithfully in what world would never see as a dream job.
Syfers (1971) also stated, “I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me.” This indicates that Syfers would like to be the man who can accomplish all of this. This is contrasting because like a man, a woman can also be financially independent to make decent money and take care of those who were dependent on them as well. In fact, there has been huge changes for women in terms of employment compared to the past decades. The number of women that joined the workforce and work the jobs that are used to be done by men rose significantly.
Syfers (1971) demonstrates her point by giving analogies of some household chores. “I want a wife who will have the house clean…so that I can find what I need the minute I need it.” The truth is men and women have different ways of defining what is clean as one man’s meat is another man’s poison. She may have higher standards to follow on how to do things and low tolerance of mess. Some men could be a have his way of placing his belongings and what the wives did could easily mess it all up. The husband could be carefree and have a stack of books scattered on the table, but the wife wants it to be organized neatly.
Women cannot do housework every day with absolutely no help from a partner as women also need some time to relax. It is not fair that men do nothing after work while women are always busy cleaning up everything even though they are stressed with their jobs. Women are also unhappy with the lives of having to do housework every day. Even if the man is exhausted from a workplace, he can still contribute to some household chores. There is nothing that says that it must be the man that works and the woman that stays home.
“When my wife and I are invited out by my friends, I want a wife who will take care of the babysitting arrangements.” Syfers (1971) expressed that one parent is the primary caregiver in a family and it is the stay-at-home mother. This is incorrect as a child should have two parents and not just the mother and a money generator as a father. Two parents in a family should invest and commit equally in the child’s life and welfare.
Syfers (1971) states that, “When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean…and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends.” She is indicating that a wife is below her husband and is only meant to serve the man and take care of different matters within her home. The wife cannot contribute topics that are considered useful and interesting into the conversation between the husband and his friends. That is not true as a wife should be a life partner and not a servant in marriage.
Syfers’ essay was written in the 1970’s when women were not allowed to do much of everything compared to the women in the society in this new era of globalization. Now, many people think that it is not right for a wife to have all these works done without a partner. This essay would make many people want to speak out because they did not agree with the way a wife was portrayed, especially if they were people with feminist views. I do not totally disagree with some main ideas delivered by Syfers in this essay as I do think that she has served the primary purpose of drawing attention and challenging the argument that women should not be doing all the housework for their families.