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Victoria Jensen

Jackie Burr, Instructor

English 1010, Section 2

15 November 2017

Who Wouldn’t Want a Wife?

In 1972, the classic essay “Why I Want a Wife” by Judy Brandy was originally published

in Ms. Magazine. While ironing one evening, Brandy reflected on her newly divorced friend’s

desire to have a wife and had an epiphany, she wanted a wife too. In response to this thought, she

wrote the essay “Why I Want a Wife” listing all the benefits of having a wife and making the

bold claim that everyone should have a wife of their own. By repeatedly using the phrase “I want

a wife…” throughout the essay, Brandy suggests that possessing a wife is an entirely selfish

desire. She described specific personal experiences of being a wife in her essay to support her

claim of the profitability of having a wife. Brandy concludes that she wants a wife who will put

her through school, care for their children, tend to her physical needs, listen to her, manage her

social life, is sensitive to her sexual needs, and is willing to quit working on her behalf. This

essay is written in all seriousness, but has an underlying tone of sarcasm and humor. Although

the essay was originally published in a women’s magazine, Brandy wrote the essay to mock the

unrealistic expectations husbands have for their wives.

The purpose of this essay is to inform the audience why they should have a wife. Brady

uses each paragraph of her essay to state different perks of having a wife. In the first body

paragraph, Brady writes, “I would like to go back to school so that I can become
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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.” Brady uses this statement to describe the role

of a wife as a selfless servant to her spouse. She informs her audience that if they were to have a

wife, their wife would financially support them so they may receive an education.

The casual and selfish tone of “Why I Want a Wife” is emphasized as Brady repeatedly

uses the word ​I ​and the phrase ​I Want. ​This word choice creates a casual tone of speech by using

such informal terms, and a selfish connotation of the essay by focusing primarily inwardly and

referring to the author’s self. This tone supports the fact that the whole essay only considers the

perspective of one person-the author. By writing this piece focused so exclusively on herself,

Brady mocks people who want wives, accusing their desire to be selfish and beneficial only to

them.

Brandy targets her essay towards the audience as wives, like herself. In the introduction

of the essay, Brandy highlights the fact that she is indeed a wife. She then describes herself

ironing clothing when she has the idea to write this essay. Brandy later writes an entire paragraph

about how she expects her wife to tend to her physical needs. “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.” By

mentioning ironing clothing in the introduction as one of her responsibilities as a wife, and later

reincorporating the task of ironing as one of her expectations of the ideal wife she wants, Brandy

provides evidence that this essay is a personal reflection of the unrealistic expectations her
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husband has for her, as a wife, by using her personal experiences to describe what she

expects from the ideal wife.

According to the essay, a wife’s primary purpose is to satisfy their spouse. “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 studies.” This passage illustrates a wife’s duty in Brady’s opinion: to aid their spouse

through difficult situations, but not receive any attention for themselves. This is a theme

throughout the essay, that the relationship between a wife and her spouse is a one-sided

relationship; or in other words, the wife is obligated to give aid to her partner in every situation

needed, but her partner has no obligation to tolerate any difficulties she may experience.

Brady boldly declares, a wife is perceived as a replaceable item by their husbands. She

wrote, “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.” By

incorporating this text into the essay, Brady strengthens her rhetorical apparatus by strategically

shifting her focus group from wife, to husband by expressing her opinion that a wife has little

worth in the eyes of her husband. She boldly states that wives are expected to eventually be

replaced-If she ever fails to live up to her husband’s expectations or if something better comes

along. Brady suggests, a culture has developed where a man, after replacing his wife, believes he

is entitled to face no negative repercussions and continue to live freely as if nothing had
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happened. By publishing this assessment aimed towards husbands, Brady suggests that

husbands should change the way they are viewing their wives-as objects, rather than people of

worth.

By providing evidence through storytelling and personal experiences, Brady emphasizes

the credibility of her claim-that having a wife is profitable. Ideally, a wife would put her through

school, care for their children, tend to her physical needs, listen to her, manage her social life, is

sensitive to her sexual needs, and is willing to quit working on her behalf. Brandy writes her

essay targeted towards her audience of wives, explaining their primary purpose is to satisfy their

spouses, who perceive them as replaceable items. Through the development of “Why I Want a

Wife”, Brady flips her target audience from the wife, to the ungrateful husband; by doing so,

Brady mockingly uses her essay as an outlet to publicize the unfair way wives are treated and the

unrealistic expectations that have developed of women. This essay strategically uses rhetorical

tools such as logical reasoning, repetition, tone and audience to inform the reader that everyone

should have a wife of their own.

Works Cited:

Brady, Judy. “Why I Want a Wife.” 75 Readings: ​An Anthology.​ 10th edition, ed. Santi

Buscemi, Charlotte Smith. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007, 374-376. Print.