I know you will have read this before. It hails from Ms Magazine in the early 1970’s and I am posting it here today because sadly it remains a very relevant piece of writing and contributes to the debate I have going on here at
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.
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 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 take care of my children. I want a wife 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 nurturing 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 my children, 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. 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 care for me and my 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 take care of the baby-sitting 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 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’oeuvres, 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?
But more to the point Judy, who’d be a wife?
Oh yes indeedy.
I remember this from Ms. magazine! I wanted a wife then and I still want one! Thanks
Well, I never read this first time round..maybe I should have done. Sadly, it was pretty much describing my marriage, and certainly the ex's view of life.
Still, I remain convinced that, somewhere out there, there is/are men who don't subscribe to this viewpoint. Really. I do. Honestly.;-)
Mmm, a bit grim! I have been a wife for almost 24 years and in that time I supported my husband to study while I was the full time bread-winner and now he is doing the same for me. However, we were both very clear that we did not want children and that was a key factor in us both being in a position to fully support each other. I think the introduction of children changes everything and it is so often the case that the woman has to relinquish much and give even more. Life can be so much harder for women especially Mums but sadly I can't see that changing any time soon.
What I want to know is, how foolish do you have to be to choose a husband who thinks like that?
As foolish as only a young, naieve (sp?) woman in love can be, I suppose.
Because we have no way of knowing who the men we marry will be as husbands, and who we will be as wives? Because people change? Because we aren't the foolish girls we were, but stronger women willing to sacrifice a relationship for that which provides peace where there is none to be found…
Oops, no disrespect meant at all to previous poster Leslie–I'm sure things were different going in to the relationship. Didn't meant to step on any toes.
Ah yes, well…there is a whole new generation of young adult women, well educated by the age of 25, in my country, like my daughter..who will not be a wife….These women are seriously living their life in comfort, but hard working, creating this whole new social group within our economy.
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Interesting article. Of course, some men were and are like this. (Alot of women now, are all about themselves too.)
With the "woman power" in the Western world today, women like to think that they are changing all this, and they are – to a point.
At the same time, women aren't really all that better off. They just have TWO FULL-TIME jobs now, trying to work and raise children. Our children (as a group) have suffered for this…. Sorry, but that's just the reality.
Personally, I think we really need to think about what true equality looks like. Women are not exactly like men. They do play a different roles biologically in some way. We are in denial about this fact.
I see alot of selfish women (all focused on their "career", and alot of "modern" men loving the fact that the woman now has to "bring home the bacon", so they as men don't have to work too hard – and they think that childrearing and homemaking is unimportant.
Sorry, but eitherway, I think we have been duped.
Ah…I remember when I got a job as a stockbroker. I thought it was my big break at last! But as my performance slowly tanked, to my complete horror and embarrassment, I began to look around the room at this male dominated industry. Gues what they had that I didn't? Wives! Who took care of their every need so all they had to do was focus on making the moolah. Me, a single mother of two, I just couldn't keep up and so lost the job, but not without the lesson. It is an unfortunately reality still and everyone–wife, husband, and especially children suffer for it.
Who'd be a wife? I would say most likely that "generation of women who have embraced homemaking as a way of life."
I think it's time we put away the '70s feminist use of the term "wife" as equating to maid.
It's funny though today we have househusbands and feminists think they are just about perfect. Hypocrisy?