Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Whatever's Wife

Somebody's wife
lived within a shadow of meaning
because as everybody knows
a woman's profession
is subsumed by
that of her husband.

His wife smiled as she wrapped on
the apron
the chains to the oven
and kicked off her shoes
So she could best enjoy
the shade
with a book.

No, wife!
Cried the author.
Don't sit down
the book you clasp,
its pages ragged,
it is not meant to be opened on the beach
those umbrella words
are meant to remind you
there's a place
for women such as you
in the shelter of the kitchen
and in the low-beamed workforce
and wrapped in
someone else's

A.J. Ponder

I wrote this back in the beginning of the year - when it seemed every book came out as "The (insert male dominated profession here)'s Wife."  It seemed to be that these apparently worthy books were perhaps inadvertently sending us all a message with their titles, that a woman can only be seen reflected in her man.  Is it any surprise that in such circumstances women are paid less, it is pocket money after all, and any mention of dependants certainly doesn't illicit more money - just the opposite, less money, less prospects, and for solo mothers a battle between putting food on the table and being able to spend any time with their children. 

Young girls are told they can have it all, but they are never told that having it all equates to the work, not the money.  And before you say - that's sexist, guys get a rubbish deal too, I agree, but it's a different rubbish deal, and I would suggest that being the husband of an equitably paid wife, or a boy whose mother can afford to put food on the table is unlikely to make the situation worse.

Personally I'm looking forward to a new run of titles "The stewardess' husband," "The Prime-Minister's Husband" etc. etc.

A.J. Ponder's work is available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, and good Wellington bookstores


  1. Hear, hear, Alicia--and the point well made in the form poetique, as well.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Helen. I was a bit worried I'd overplayed my hand, it's hard to know with protest poetry.

  3. and then there's CArol Ann Duffy's poetry collection 'The world's wife'!!

  4. It looks kind of interesting, I'd love to read it sometime -- even though its obviously blatant sexism ;)