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.