Wife Material 101
What does “wife material” mean? If this is something that has remotely (and genuinely) crossed your mind, then you have come to the right place. Before we proceed, however, it is imperative to establish that:
“Wife” is, first of all, a role before it’s a person. And now that this role has been taken up, who is a wife and what do they do?
A wife is a person who will always dim their light so their husbands can shine brighter. You can be the moon but your husband must be treated like the sun.
A wife is a person who will lay on the bed and spread their legs whenever their husband pleases, regardless of their physical, emotional or mental state, always without complaint. Bonus points for smiling all the while doing so and preaching to other “wives” to do the same. A person who will singlehandedly clean up the entire house, prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, care for the kids, astoundingly excel at a nine-to-five, and do so all the while never uttering even a syllable of complaint, even or especially if justified to do so. Think, Maggi Woman on patriarchy steroids. Think, a glorified cook/maid/nanny, all in one.
Bonus points for smiling all the while doing so and encouraging other “wives” to do the same.
I repeat that “WIFE” is a role first, before a person. Which I guess explains why people witness a married man do things like “babysit” HIS OWN KIDS (What a novelty! Somebody give this man a bloody award!), or clean up in the kitchen, and then go, “Wetin the wife dey do?” and “Where the wife go wey he con dey stan for kitchen so?”
As Minna Salami so wonderfully said and I so wonderfully regurge, men can be wives too. Why? See the above text.
Think of patriarchy as music and the term “wife material” as a Grammy. The grand title has been conferred upon you, society’s way of rewarding you for embracing your status as a second class citizen and refusing to challenge the systems of oppression that dictate the framework of our lives. I recently asked myself what the alternative to feminism is. And what IS the alternative to fighting for a safe space to fully and uninterruptedly exist as you would like to? It is accepting that you do not deserve to exist as you would like to, admitting that you are a mild-but-not-so-mild chink in society’s armour, unfortunate child of an, unfortunately, lesser god. It is embracing the divine decrees of the highly-acclaimed, invincible and invisible society, people who lived long before you were born and died long before you were born, people whose ways are evidently - and more often than not, obsolete to you and the construct of the world as it is today.
I repeat that “WIFE” is a role first, before a person.
Now, a friend of mine, Olawale Ibiyemi talked about this wife material topic some time ago on Twitter, and a lot of people marched for his head. Basically, Wale said, “Wife material is insidious and an inherently patriarchal term.” They said, “You people are being too much. This term can also refer to a man’s personal choice or preference as regards to who he fancies fit enough to be his life partner.” And while the latter might be true, it sort of reminds me of the truncation and perhaps even impending erasure of feminism as nothing other than “choice.” I used to think like this too, that feminism was all about choice. Give us all of the options and don’t judge or police us, whatever our decisions become. Which, when you really think about it, is like saying the Black Lives Matter movement is about choice, too. Let Black people be the ones to choose if they want to be victims of police brutality or not. Or saying the abolitionist movement was really about choice as well. Let slaves be the ones to choose if they want to be slaves or freemen.
And while the importance of choice cannot be overemphasized, it would be counterproductive to boil feminism down to “right to choose,” and outright obtuse to refuse to realize that one’s choice can be and is constantly coloured by many seemingly invisible third-party factors (see: patriarchy, internalized misogyny, etcetera).
So a man might argue that his perceptions of “wife material” have nothing to do with standard patriarchal constructs and are not affected by personal or socially-conditioned biases, but when you are called “wife material” by the average man (“average man” being a man who refuses to admit that there is a problem with gender that needs a gargantuan amount of fixing, a man who refuses to admit - or use his privileges for good), this is what is being said to you, whether you both consciously realize it or not:
You will “obey” my word and my word will be final in our home, therefore you are fit to be my wife.
You will never speak up about one disservice or another perpetuated against you or womanhood in entirety, ever, and therefore you are fit to be my wife. (Omg. Perhaps this explains the whole men hating feminists thing. People who speak up against gender injustice and call out bullshit? What an imposing threat to their delicate existence. Who would have thought?)
Think of patriarchy as music and the term “wife material” as a Grammy. The grand title has been conferred upon you, society’s way of rewarding you for embracing your status as a second class citizen and refusing to challenge the systems of oppression that dictate the framework of our lives.
You will always put my fragile ego over your existence, safety and autonomy. You will place my supreme input above anything and anyone else’s, even when I am wrong. In fact, pointing out or calling me out when I’m in the wrong is the worst thing you could ever do, because then you would squash my fabled, fragile ego for life.
You will bear our kids and raise them singlehandedly, and when you ever feel cheated, shortchanged - or physically, mentally or emotionally drained, you will re-tap into your wife materialness and remember that because you are female and because of the female manuals that OBVIOUSLY come with your existence, it is your sole responsibility to do so.
You will be my backbone, and you will be okay with remaining stagnant while I thrive, personally and career-wise. In fact, you won’t just be “okay,” you will be grateful to be on the sidelines. You managed to snag a whole husband! Wetin remain?
Our marriage will always be about me because I’m your head, and because you realize and accept this, you are fit to be my wife. You will embrace the culture of silence throughout our marital days.
You will be like a mother to me because men are like babies and ought to be babied and pampered, but for no bloody sensible reason other than what society and religion have decreed, I will be your head and you will be the tail, even though you will obviously perform all of the physical and emotional labour in this relationship, and even though I have previously stated and it is an established fact that I and my entire gender are MAN-BABIES AND SHOULD BE CATERED TO. LIKE BABIES. And there is no glaring contradiction in my words at all.
You will always put my fragile ego over your existence, safety and autonomy. You will place my supreme input above anything and anyone else’s, even when I am wrong.
will bring in my mediocre, and you will bring in your best, and you will accept and thank me every day for it. You will treat me like a king for saving you from the claws of singleness and sliding a ring down your finger, therefore you are fit to be my wife.
You will worship and serve me, and I will be Lord and master over you and OUR home, therefore you are fit to be my wife. I will be your god, and you will regard me as such, whether I actually possess godlike or deadbeat qualities. Society has deemed my entire gender divine and you adhere to this principle, therefore you are fit to be my wife.
I will own you, and you will never rebel against my ownership status or the obviously very “natural order” of things, therefore you are fit to be my wife.
You will embrace the culture of silence throughout our marital days
PS: For those of you still huffing and puffing as to how I could dare to compare police brutality to “ordinary” misogyny, an unfriendly reminder that police brutality is fuelled by fear and hate. Want to take a wild guess as to what else is fuelled by fear and hate? (Think, misogyny, rape, transmisogyny, HATE crimes, gender-based violence, etc). Still don’t think misogyny is murderous? Yeah well. At least we know for a fact that love isn’t what fuels murder. Thank you for reading.
Photo by Parij Borgohain from Pexels