In 1972, Judy (Syfers) Brady wrote a satirical article for the fledgling Ms. Magazine entitled, I Want a Wife. I remember reading this piece while in my doctoral program and finding it humorous to imagine a trailblazing woman wanting a disempowered wife. I also found it sad because so many people believed that those stereotypes were not only attainable, but also desirable.
Brady went on to dismantle the identity of a stereotypical wife, similar to Adrienne Rich’s much longer analysis of the institution of motherhood. Brady claimed that anyone would want “A Wife” if that person devoted her life to caring for my needs. We might want that person, but we don’t need that person (which is a good thing because she doesn’t exist).
Brady’s often misunderstood article popped into my mind this morning when I was sitting in the staff office at the local domestic violence shelter. I was thinking about the courageous women I see walk through the doors of the shelter, about my badass clients, about my feminist self, and about the trailblazing women I will meet only through their biographies or TED Talks.
And, I wondered – what do we need?
The strangest response occurred to me. What we need is a community of #hypewomen. We don’t need “A Wife.” That was Brady’s point that people still debate 40 years later.
Trailblazers are hypewomen and they need hypewomen.
- She reflects our strength to us and says “I see you differently than you see yourself. Try on my view for a while.”
- She celebrates your successes as if they were her own.
- She shares her struggles so that we know we are not alone.
- She has your back by reminding us of all the times we overcame obstacles.
- She comforts us and then tells us to keep going.
Let’s celebrate the hypewomen in our lives and be one for someone else. It’s how we make change while having a really good time. I’m convinced that hypewomen have a great sense of humor.