Saturday, April 5, 2008


From The Story by American Public Radio:
"In August 1970, a woman named Judy Syfers stood before a crowd gathered in San Francisco and read an essay she wrote entitled Why I Want A Wife. The crowd was gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which had given women the right to vote.

"Judy was heckled by men in the audience, but the essay had an immediate impact within the strengthening feminist movement. It was published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine in 1971. Today, the essay is read by student arounds the world as a classic example of feminist humor and satirical prose.

"In this American Public Media interview, Judy Syfers, now Judy Brady, talks with Dick Gordon about how writing the essay changed her life. She got involved with other political movements in the late 70s and 80s, but she credits the women's movement with opening her mind and giving her a foundation as an activist for social justice." If you click on the link and listen to her, you're in for an uplifting and thought-provoking treat: She's still got that gift for incisive analysis and wit, only it's much richer from decades of experience.


by Judy Syfers, published in in The First Ms. Reader

I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife. And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.

Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is obviously looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?

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. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I am going to school I want a wife to keep track of the children's doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children's clothes and keep them mended. 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 need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. It may mean a small cut in my wife's income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.

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 I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a *good* cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying. I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school. I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.

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 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.

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life. When my wife and I are invited out by my friends, I want a wife who will take care of the babysitting arrangements. When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about the things that interest me and my friends. I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us. I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel comfortable, who makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed the hors d'oeurves, that they are offered a second helping of the food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it.

And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night out by myself.

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it. I want a wife who assumes the complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not want more children. I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies. And I want a wife who understands that *my* sexual needs may entail more than strict adherence to monogamy. I must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.

If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life; my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife's duties.

My God, who *wouldn't* want a wife?


kat said...

I've heard snippets of this essay before, but never the whole thing.....she puts a really fine point on things, doesn't she?

I think I'll blog on this (and the headline on Yahoo yesterday about how husbands generate housework for wives) and link to your post, if that's ok.

happy weekend!

letsdance said...

YES!! I've been saying for years that I want a wife!

Anonymous said...

I don;t have a wife, but Mr Gator does clean the cat boxes, which is worth lots of other things.

little gator, who forgot to log in again.

Maggie Jochild said...

AMEN to the catbox cleaning.

Kat, come back and put a link to your post here when you're ready, okay?

Thx, ya'll, for the response.

kat said...

Hey there folks. Finally posted about this and other essays relating to wife-dom.

here ya go

kat said...

oops, it got chopped. Add this to the end of the link:

Shaenon Garrity said...

When I was seven or eight, my mom and I lived with my aunt and her family for several months while my dad worked elsewhere. My aunt and uncle were both executives, and my mom looked after my cousin and me while they were at work. One evening my aunt came home from a long day at the office, sat down at the head of the table while my mom served dinner, looked at their impeccably washed and dressed children, and exclaimed, "Isn't it nice to have a wife?"

It *is* a pretty sweet deal.