VIEWS: 172 PAGES: 6 POSTED ON: 4/16/2010
Sarah Birsic 08/03/07 English 2180 Final Exploratory Paper “Why I Want a Wife” “My God, who wouldn't want a wife?” I find it ironic that I start this assignment with the last line of the essay, but I truly believe that line says it all. Judy Syfers' essay is a tool of sorts. The entire essay calls for what I would describe as the “perfect woman.” All the duties charged to the wife in the essay seemed to be plausible, but not healthy. I recall reading the essay straight through to gain a first impression. My initial reaction was an overall positive one. I felt pride for the strong women out in the world today who are subjected to these menial chores. However, as the essay progressed I found myself getting angry at the author, wondering “how dare she demean my gender like this?” In my opinion, the key to understanding the essay is to develop an appreciation for the author and scrutinize the way that women are viewed in our society. I firmly believe that this essay humiliates the female gender, and I am not okay with this. I think this essay could cause some consequences for the female gender, for example, some women may feel used, get extremely upset, and not want to date anymore. But on the other hand, it may help women to see what is going on in the world and encourage them to stand up for themselves and their rights. On second reading of the essay, I took the male point of view. This approach is foreign to me. I wondered what a male would think if he were reading this. I can imagine it now, some male chauvinist thinking, “That sure sounds like what I want! A wife that will say „How High‟ when I say jump!” As I continued reading, another phrase stuck out of the page. “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?” Sarah Birsic 08/03/07 English 2180 Final Exploratory Paper (Syfers). A few weeks ago, when I was talking to my boyfriend about this assignment, he honestly thought that this Syfers‟ essay was about homosexuality. At first I laughed at him, but then I looked at it from his view point. If you are only reading the words and not looking for the meaning, the easiest analysis of this quote (and essay in general) could be blamed on homosexuality. However, this isn‟t the case at all. My thoughts upon reading this were that of sheer outrage. I felt as if this essay did nothing but encourage the stereotype that women are inferior to men. I want this paper to show that this minor label isn‟t true. While reading through the other exploratory papers, I came across one that was also done on Why I Want a Wife. This person felt that the author was more or less joking and being sarcastic with her husband. She felt that this was Syfers‟ way of reminding her husband of all the wonderful things that she does for him. I then looked at the essay and tried to see this point of view but from my own scrutiny, I believe that the author is describing her feelings about the male gender and how they are viewed in comparison to women. She knows the world and how society works. She knows there are double- standards that exist. The demands the author makes in this essay are ridiculous. To ask that of any partner isn‟t right. But it still happens in every culture. I think that the author is trying to expose the double-standard to other people reading her work, and created a sort of enlightenment to others. This so-called enlightenment shows how wives (or to simplify and generalize, women) aren‟t treated with the same respect or given the same chances as men. “I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife's duties” (Syfers). This quote is one of complete submission! Is this the role women are supposed to become? These responsibilities of the wife are discriminatory! Once I Sarah Birsic 08/03/07 English 2180 Final Exploratory Paper read the essay and looked at it through this viewpoint, I wondered if this truly was the author‟s message. Of course she wants a wife, because evidently, wives are slaves. I share the same opinion with Lilly‟s blog entry. She states “I do think that there is still an older way of thinking that would include all of the listed attributes as things a wife should have, but I also get more of an impression in modern society that wives are thought of more like partners and this changes as more and more men are exercising what were the traditional duties of a wife” (blog entry by Lilly). Seeing some of the duties performed by the wife in the essay makes me realize that the world is changing, but it‟s not happening fast enough. Women in the past were expected to do the work at home, take care of the children, and have a five-course meal ready for the breadwinning husband when he returned home from a hard day at work. Though women were working before World War II, the number of women significantly increased due to the fact that many men were out fighting. During the war, women entered the workforce in swelling numbers, and the role of a woman was transformed from traditional values to modern independence. Nowadays, like Lilly stated before, the playing field is beginning to level. As a matter of fact, websites including AtHomeDad.org are gaining popularity. It specifically cites that, "according to the 2005 Census Bureau, there were about 147,000 at-home dads in the United States" (http://www.athomedad.org/node/243, paragraph 15). Even though modern independence has taken place, women still do not share the same equality in the work place. For example, my parents are both in the medical profession, but I know for a fact that my father makes significantly more money than my mother does for doing the same type of work. Sarah Birsic 08/03/07 English 2180 Final Exploratory Paper I then changed perspectives and actually read the essay as if it was written by a man. I felt like the essay spoke to me. I realized that if I was a man, I would love for my wife to have all of these qualities. I would want to be catered to. I think if I were to find a “wife” that did everything for me, as described in the essay, I would be set for life. I would want to be able to get rid of a woman if she didn‟t satisfy me sexually. I would like all the things in this essay. It sounded perfectly fine to me. I think I‟ll try to find a wife soon. If this essay is true, and my wife does everything in it, then where do I sign up to get one of those wives?! Since I really couldn‟t relate to the males point of view, I reverted back to my own, and it angered me further. The essay became even more ridiculous when the author 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.” Women are not rag dolls to be tossed around for a man‟s pleasure. Women are not something to be used, and then thrown away when they are “convenient” or unpleasing anymore. This essay exposes what women shouldn‟t be. The main question that I grappled with was what the true meaning of this essay was. After looking at all the perspectives, I wondered what the author meant by writing it. I want to judge that the author is showing us a problem, which can be fixed. This is what I believe the message of the author is. I can see that she doesn‟t enjoy having to write an essay like this. Based on my research of past authors, I recognize that every author has their own different style of writing. Syfers‟ is that of exposition. I then wanted to understand the problem and attempt to fix it. Authors do their part to expose problems to the public, and it‟s our job as the public to fix them. I Sarah Birsic 08/03/07 English 2180 Final Exploratory Paper understand that I might not be able to change the world by myself, but whatever I can do is a start. As I read the essay, I saw the fundamental error in it. It degrades my own gender and exposes the degradation of females. I tried to think of ways that I might help fix this error. The main idea that I came up with is awareness. Like I said before this was a struggle, and the author did her part to expose. Now I feel that I could do mine in my everyday life. You can go as far as you would like to, and every woman can help this cause. I recently heard a joke that ties in perfectly with my point. “What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing. You‟ve already told her twice.” Jokes like these have no place in our culture, it does nothing but hurt us. If women take some kind of action, even just a little effort like stopping these jokes, then the question could slowly begin to have an answer. The task at hand is difficult, but with both genders cooperating, it can be accomplished. If what Judy Syfers wrote is what a wife is all about, then I want no part of it. I want to be in a relationship where someone cares about me enough to treat me like a human being; not a mindless robot who is supposed to cater to his or her every need. I started this paper the same way I will end it. “Who wouldn‟t want a wife?” I said earlier that this essay was a tool of sorts. I now look at the essay as an emotional tool. Reading it has given me the strength to know what I want in a relationship, and not to give in to the 1950‟s stereotype that still reigns. It has enabled me to summon up the courage to speak up for myself and to justly get the most out of my life where it counts the most. Who wouldn‟t want a wife? Me. I deserve better. Sarah Birsic 08/03/07 English 2180 Final Exploratory Paper WORKS CITED 1) Barbera, Greg. "A Bunch of Losers? At Home Dads Struggle to Change an Outdated Stereotype." AtHomeDad.org. 2007. 17 July 2007. http://athomedad.org/node/243 2) Syfers, Judy. "Why I Want a Wife". The Oxford Book of Women's Writing in the United States. Linda Wagner-Martin. Oxford University Press. New York, New York. 1995. 375-376. 3) Lilly's blog, "Why I Want a Wife". 2007. 17 July 2007. http://writingwomen07.blogspot.com/ 4) Author not listed, “Why I Want a Wife” exploratory paper. 18 July 2007. http://writingwomen07.pbwiki.com/Why%20I%20Want%20a%20Wife
"“Why I Want a Wife”"