Monday, June 29, 2009

I Want -- Writer's Poke #241

Those that have taught (or taken) Freshman Composition in the past 15 years are probably very familiar with Judy Syfer's classic 1971 feminist essay "I Want a Wife." In it, she assumes the voice of the typical male chauvinist, describing all the things a good wife must do: not complain, please sexually, put herself second, take care of the kids and all of the housework, etc. Throughout the essay, Syfer's running refrain is "I want a wife," and after she's done cataloging the wife's "traditional" duties, she rhetorically asks: "My God, who wouldn't want a wife?"

Of course her point isn't that a wife should be defined in the traditional way. She shouldn't be the husband's servant. The essay calls for liberation and a redefining of what we think a wife should be.

About twenty years later, RATT released a song called "I Want a Woman." This song is so complicated and deep that it would be impossible for me to unpack it in just a paragraph or two. Let's just say that the singer/poet extols the virtues of a female that's more "experienced."

Of course both "I Want a Wife" and "I Want a Woman" tap into the realm of male fantasy, and what an interesting realm that is. In both cases, the controlling verb is "want" -- connected either to unrealistic expectations or inappropriate desire.

Why must reality always trump fantasy?

Consider what you would like to have in a woman.

"You can never get enough of what you don't want." -- Wayne Dyer



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