Essay I Want A Wife Judy Brady

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life …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 …If, like me, she was slightly perturbed that Syfers’ article seems to have been forgotten, she didn’t say so.

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I Want a Wife was a cutting piece of satire and the depiction of men was far from flattering.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that Syfers’ piece has been since overlooked.

It was reproduced in Notes from the Third Year (1971), an important anthology of feminist works edited by New York activists Anne Koedt and Shulamith Firestone.

It also featured in the preview issue of the popular feminist magazine, Ms., which sold out in eight days after it was released on 20 December 1971.

Like Crabb, Syfers set out to expose the taken for granted status of women’s work in the home.

She set her sights not only on the invisibility of housework and childcare, but on the emotional and sexual labour of wives.The failure to make a connection between Syfers’ article and Crabb’s The Wife Drought is symptomatic of a wider pattern in popular debate about feminism.It reflects a tendency to forget past feminisms or, worse, misrepresent them – what historian Natasha Campo describes as the process of “re-remembering” feminism.And 40 years later, here was Crabb making much the same point.Since then, Crabb has gone on to write The Wife Drought, released in late September.Was he volunteering to be one of those men who would help fill the shortage?As a historian of 1970s feminism, I was also somewhat bemused.She jokingly suggested that what was needed was a “wife quota”.When my partner sent me a link to her column, I was more than pleased.Crabb’s article reminded me of a classic work of the American women’s movement written more than 40 years ago.Judy Syfers’ short essay, I Want a Wife, was based on a speech Syfers (now Brady) delivered on August 26 1970 at a rally in San Francisco to mark the 50th anniversary of American women’s suffrage.

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