I Want a Wife by Judy Brady: Female Emancipation and The Glass Ceiling

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1207 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 1207|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Discussion
  3. Works Cited


‘‘I Want a Wife’’ written by Judy Brady, in 1971, after the Women’s Rights Movement began in the USA, is an important feminist statement that makes readers think and question the place of women in society. Brady tries to emphasize that women are not seen as equal to men and there are always invisible barriers (glass ceiling) around women in society by turning the topic into a satire and criticizing gender stereotypes. Brady empowers women to understand that in order to create equality and break the glass ceiling, perspectives should be changed and one should understand that being a woman should not only be limited to do domestic duties.

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On 26th August 1970, New York City’s Fifth Avenue was blocked during a rush hour by 50,000 feminists who paraded down with linked arms to celebrate the 50th anniversary of American women’s suffrage and 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in the USA. On the same day, Syfers’ article, ‘I Want a Wife’ was delivered as part of a rally in San Francisco with the same aim of the parade in Fifth Avenue.

The 1960s-1980s feminist movement, also known as second-wave feminism, inspired Syfers, since this movement was mostly tackling issues of discrimination and inequality and aiming to raise awareness for women’s rights. This feminist movement started as a response to barriers against women’s life after the Second World War since ‘‘baby-boomers’’ who born after the war seriously changed the place of women in American society by classifying women as mothers mostly. Syfers rephrased this understanding with the following sentence ‘‘I belong to that classification of people known as wives.

I am a wife and not altogether, incidentally, I am a mother.’’ Syfers starts her article with this sentence, as she wanted to create a common understanding between herself and her audience and to make herself approachable as a writer who had similar disappointments and experiences with her audience on the topic of marriage and its inevitable inequalities. Using repetitions and aposiopesis (unfinished sentences) made her arguments stronger and showed her audience how tired she felt about being in the background of her marriage. Through these links and following paragraphs, Syfers tried to reach to her audience to ask ‘’why?’’ and lead them to find the core problem in their lives.

Syfers, in her article ‘’I Want a Wife’’, satirizes the views of the American society about the position of women and demonstrates a significant problem called ‘gender inequality’, which is more evident in marriages since women and men are not trained to do same tasks and not expected to take same responsibilities. She explains that the American society accepts that a woman has a number of duties that should be solely done by a woman as a mother and/or a wife whilst the same society does not oblige men to do these duties as a father and/or husband.

A wife is expected to arrange her husband’s and her life, to take care of their children, to take the children to the school and the park, to help them with their homework, to cook, to wash clothes, to keep the house and dishes clean. Moreover, as a wife is also expected to be responsible for being sensitive to her husband’s sexual needs and being able to satisfy and meet her husband’s needs whenever her husband wants as Pavlik says ‘‘Men are achievers because of the compliant slavery of their wives...’’. She should not clutter up her husband’s life with jealousies and she must be careful about birth control, if her husband does not want more children. Men do not care about these and they are usually disrespectful and neglectful.

In this regards, Syfers gives an example from her own life in her article through speaking about one of her male friends who had divorced recently and has been looking for a new wife since then. As he is free from his parental and housewife obligations, it is not a problem for this male friend to look for a new wife and leave his child with his ex-wife therefore Syfers sarcastically says that ‘‘I, too, would like to have a wife’’. Considering all these tasks and responsibilities left on women’s shoulder, she repeats her wishes with following statement ‘my God, who would not want a wife’?

Syfers’ article and the second wave feminism lead a change in the role of women in American society while helping women to break both visible and invisible barriers around them. As their lives began to change with the impact of this article and the movement, American women were empowered to become more conscious about their rights. They established significant organisations such as National Organisation for Woman (NOW) and they were gathered in ‘‘Women’s Liberation Groups’’ and ‘‘Consciousness-Raising Groups’’ which eventually allow them to march together and protest in the streets of the United States of America.

These gave them their opportunity to make sure that their voices are heard in public through word of mouth, speeches, journals et cetera. Through these reaching outs, women were able to achieve major achievements in which they were deprived from. Such rights include being able to access jobs in several areas including politics and business, and influencing changes in law such as the Equal Pay Act.

It is clear that women’s place in America has changed over the last decades. With the impact of Syfer’s article and second feminist movement, women have more rights today than they had in the past. Today women have chances to study and work as they are not just seen as housewives. Due to increasing number of single mothers, women are now considered as ‘‘breadwinners’’ of their families as statistics shows that nearly half of the workers in the United States of America are women.

Despite all the achievements of feminist movement and Syfer’s efforts, gender inequality in the United States remains, maybe not as much as 1970s and how Syfers satire but still remains. For instance, for the same job title and workload, Equal Pay Act indicates that women and men shall earn same amount of money whereas in reality women workers are earning less money than men workers are earning. Another example is that women should make progress in politics, however only 25 percent of all national parliamentarians are women.

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To put it briefly, Syfers’ article, inspired by the second wave feminism, affected feminist literature via further elaborating the glass ceiling in front of female emancipation and showing how it could only be lifted if women can see their true power and act accordingly. ‘I Want a Wife’ is a satiric way to explain how women can do and achieve anything and yet how part of the American men is still not willing to accept this. Syfers’ essay is an important literary work that reflects the understanding of its era and should be further studied to understand present day.

Works Cited

  1. Syfers, Judy. ‘‘I Want a Wife: Literature for Composition.’’, HarperCollins Custom Books. Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman and William Burto. New York. 1993, 775-776. Print.
  2. Love, Barbara and Nancy F. Cott. ‘‘Feminists who changed America 1963-1975.’’ University of Illinois Press. 22 September 2006, 56. 7. Print.
  3. Pavlik, Katherine B. ‘‘Contemporary Feminist Literature: Satire or Polemic?’’ American Humor 7. 1. (1980). 10-16. JSTOR. Web. 23 March 2019.
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I Want A Wife By Judy Brady: Female Emancipation And The Glass Ceiling. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from
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