At the tender age of 16, without even realising it, I was given my first taste of powerful feminist satire.
Judy Syfers’ article (now Judy Brady) ‘Why I Want a Wife’ appeared in the first issue of Ms. Magazine launched in the summer of 1972.
The essay is perhaps one of the best-remembered pieces from the magazine’s premiere issue and explores, with an appropriate amount of sarcasm and irony, the duties (or more often than not expectations) of the ‘modern day’ housewife.
I was presented with the article in a GCSE English lesson circa 2004. After the obligatory discussion and classroom analysis, this was my response:
“Why I Want a Girlfriend”
I am a girlfriend.
At least I was a girlfriend and know what that entails.
We girls have to understand the specific needs and expectations of the boys and, come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind having a girlfriend myself.
I want a girlfriend to understand that my sexual needs come first.
I want a girlfriend to do things without me having to ask twice and, if I am tired when she is finished, she should realise she will have to go without.
I want a girlfriend to look good and be beautiful all the time.
I want a girlfriend to care about how she looks and never come out with me if she looks a state because, of course, I cannot be associated with any woman that looks anything less than a supermodel.
I want a girlfriend to make me look good and impress my friends. I want a girlfriend who everyone fancies but knows that she belongs to me.
I want a girlfriend to listen to me and do what I tell her to.
She should understand that when I go out she cannot come with me and will not complain when I come home in the early hours of the morning, drunk and demanding sex.
I want a girlfriend to know that she is only allowed to go out if I say it’s alright to do so. If I do not like her friends she cannot see them and must make friends with mine.
I want a girlfriend to understand that she must fit into my social calendar and if I want her to stay in with me at home she should do so, happily.
I want a girlfriend to do things for me without me knowing and surprise me even though she knows I will never do that for her.
My girlfriend should always remember my birthday but not complain when I forget hers and don’t buy her a gift, after all, my life is much too important to clutter with pointless dates to remember.
I want a girlfriend to organise nights out for us, cook me meals and take me out places because she loves me and wants to prove it. She should tell me she loves me every day and not get insulted when I don’t say it back.
I want a girlfriend to know that if she alone does not satisfy my needs to my standards I have the right to look elsewhere. She should forgive me when I am unfaithful but realise that I maintain the right to finish her if she is unfaithful to me.
My girlfriend should understand that she can never leave me and the only time she can even think of leaving is if I say it’s over.
And through all these things, I want a girlfriend who will not complain.
I want a girlfriend who realises all these things should be done without one question being asked and she should never annoy me with petty complaints that I do not love or care for her.
However, I want a girlfriend who will happily listen to my ramblings about how I am not treated fairly or with respect and she should comfort me and tell me she loves me and always will.
I want a girlfriend to look up to me and see me as her protector as this will boost my ego and make me feel better about myself. She should feel like she needs protecting and know that I am her protector.
Under no circumstances is she allowed to make me feel small or embarrass me but she should understand that I am allowed to embarrass her in front of my friends and take advantage of her whenever I want.
I want a girlfriend who will never say no and succumb to any disgusting fantasy I want playing out.
Really, if you think about it, I can’t believe anyone who says they wouldn’t want a girlfriend!