Who is the Victimhood in Marriage?

Baosheng Guo                           04-13-23



As Fay Weldon, a well-known British feminist and writer, said that it is time women stopped seeing themselves as victims, “This was right and proper 20 or 30 years ago when they couldn’t earn, they couldn’t work, they couldn’t join the professions. Well all that has changed” (Hastings). The woman’s marital status has improved in recent decades from traditional to modern status. In 1972, Judy Syfers Brady wrote a famous essay named Why I Want a Wife, which states the traditional status of women. In 1988, Kurt Fernsler wrote Why I Want a Husband, which reflects the requirements for a husband from a modern woman’s perspective. Reviewing these two essays, the woman’s marital status significantly changed during the period the two essays were published, which happened to be the second wave of the feminist movement. Especially, women’s independence, freedom, and higher social status made a remarkable change.


First, women’s independence despite the domain of husbands improved dramatically during this period. Regardless of Western or Eastern, Bible or Quran, and Confucius or Palato, all traditional societies obeyed the rules that women were subject to men and wives subordinate to husbands.  Like Bible wrote, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (New Testament. Ephesians 5:22-24). Chinese Confucianism insist on three fundament principle in society: the officer is subject to the king, the son is subject to the father, and the wife is subject to the husband. In Why I Want a Wife, the author Judy states, “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… 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” (Brady Syfers). Judy illustrates the traditional marriage role of woman and asserts that woman was victimhood in marriage, so women have to launch the feminist movement.


At that time, the second wave of the feminist movement just began, and that promoted women’s working outside instead of being housewives and advocating equality in marriage and letting wife not be servant to husband. Feminists also gained women can apply for mortgages in their own name and outlawed marital rape.  And they received more legal achievements such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the outlawing of marital rape, the legalization of no-fault divorce, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979).


Therefore, when Fernsler wrote Why I Want a Husband, women’s roles in marriage have already changed. Fernsler wrote, “I want my husband to be completely receptive to my sexual needs…He will be sensitive to my problems and respect my private life… He will be ready to accept the possibility that I may need to “find myself” and my walk out at any time. He will understand, of course, that I will take half of everything we own. He would keep the kids, however, because I would need to start a brand-new life for myself” (Fernsler). Obviously, through the efforts of feminists, the independence of women has already essentially improved.


In addition, during this period, along with the second feminism movement wave, women’s freedom from their body’s bondage greatly expanded. The woman is the machine of infant productive and the slave of men’s sex and fertility in traditional marriage, and women have to spend most of their time pregnant, productive, and rise the infant. Thus, they can’t engage in education and working outside. The landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade of 1973 and the approving the birth control pill by the FDA essentially liberate women and gave the woman the right to choose to have an abortion. As a result, the woman was liberated and went to work like man and no longer acted as the victim of marriage.


Finally, during this period, the woman’s social status including education and career significantly improved.  In 1970, San Diego State University was the first university in the United States to offer a selection of women’s studies courses. In 1974, the Women’s Educational Equity Act was passed. In 1975, a law required the U.S. Military Academies to admit women. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm, a New York Democrat, became the first Black woman to serve in Congress. In 1983, Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman astronaut to go into space.


Education and careers changed women’s social status and let women have a great influence on society and history. Because women have independent careers like men, a seismic shift in the role of women has happened in contemporary society.


Like the first lady Dr. Jill Biden, she should give up her job and turn into a professional President’s wife by traditional standards, but she did not abandon her career teaching at the community college. Dr.Jill Biden illustrates the value of herself through her job as President Biden said to her, “Teaching is not what Jill does. It’s who she is.” (Grenell)


Who is the victimhood in Marriage? Although both authors of the two articles (Why I Want a Wife and Why I Want a Husband) think of themselves as victimhood, we should pursue equality and harmony in marriage. The wife no longer is a victim in the traditional society, and the husband also is not a victim because feminist movements only advocate equality right with men, not the right to dictate and dominate the man. In summary, a seismic shift has already happened in human marriage, and this shit will continue in the foreseen future.



Works Cited:

Brady Syfers. Judy. “I Want a Wife.” Literature for Composition. 3rd edition. New York: HarperCollins Custom Books, 1993. 775-776. Print.

Fernsler, Kurt. “Why I Want a Husband.” Essays24.com. 04 2011. Web. 04 2011.


Grenell, Alexis. “First Ladyology: The Role Has Long Been a Lose-Lose Proposition.” The Nation, 22 Jan. 2021, www.thenation.com/article/politics/biden-first-lady-feminism/.

Hastings, Chris. “Feminism Was BAD for Two-thirds of Woman, Says FAY WELDON.” Mail Online, 26 Mar. 2017, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4349910/Feminism-BAD-two-thirds-woman-says-FAY-WELDON.html