Breaking Down The Sexist Ideology Behind 'Are You Wife Material?'

Lifelong partnerships are serious business and marriage websites have lists running into over 30 criteria for “ideal” marriage material for womankind. If all this is raising some hackles, only a little bit has been said about “husband material”

Gunjan Pant Pande
New Update
Are Big Fat Weddings Unnecessary?

Forget the Big Five Inventory, DISC Personality, MBTI what’s your score on the W.I.F.E. scale girl? That’s the only thing that matters if you are beyond a “certain age.” Women may be guiding missions to the Sun, slaying it in cutting-edge technology, training cat commandoes and rewriting complex corporate laws but when it comes to the crux of the matter, the Cait Research & Trade Development Society survey that “estimated a flow of over Rs 4 trillion in wedding-related purchases and services” last year proves that the hot marriage mart is forever on the upswing in need of a steady supply of “slim, pious, homely brides” for “h’some, well-mannered, educated bachelors.”  


Putting it crudely: Are you that coveted wife material? No need to get offended, it’s all commercial out there and you’re the product – the faster you accept it, the better. In fact, a widely circulating book on the subject cultures “whole” women, ready to take the plunge, into four primary fabrics -- silk, wool, linen and cotton wife material! Gulp your pride singletons and take notes then, you’ve got to get some homework done before the deadline for the “joyous occasion” where everyone from the neighbourhood aunty to the punctilious phuphaji will be bona-fide judges merrily muddying the Shaadi Shark Tank! 

The Sexist Ideology Behind Calling Women 'Wifey Material?'

There’s a preferred thread count, colour fastness, shrinkage and pilling test to work on before your stuff is commercially viable to strut. Begin with the basics: are you emotionally AND financially independent? That’s criteria #1 these days. Don’t get fooled by the “homely” bit in matrimonial ads, that’s to be very clear you get the dough AND are domestic too, with all the hyper “hormonal” emotions in rein. 

You’re the whole package so to speak capable of handling your needs and HIS! As the “ideal partner” you don’t lean on your man and weigh him down, instead you shatter patriarchal stereotypes by being the shoulder to cry on. Your career is as important to you as is cooking, cleaning and caring for your man. You’re the prized catch, nothing sexist just inclusive jargon! 

Next, when the man’s finally had enough of “someone fun, chill, go with the flow, not interested in anything serious types,” and starts to look for a “good woman who deserves the ring types” you better “get along with his family and friends.” If the to-be MIL’s your BFF it’s a confirmed “I do.” You’re the golden glue that binds HIS side and HIS social circle with exemplary loyalty to the newly acquired surname. 

Always there for him “in sickness and in health, complete and utter devotion to HIM and HIS needs goes without saying. Which also means: “you accept everything about him without question, warts and all.” There’s no attempt on your part to “change him.” So not only do you indulge his quirks, you let him take the lead, enjoy his company and show keen interest in HIS interests while letting him “make unanimous decisions for the family.” 


You diplomatically step back when HE needs space and according to one school of thought, “you know what it takes to keep your man. You don’t seek attention from others because he is all you want!” Wow! Any doubt then that one definition states “a girl who stays with her man knowing all his bad sides is wife material.” (Where’s your highlighter girl, did you neon that for future ref?)

Lifelong partnerships are serious business and marriage websites have lists running into over 30 criteria for “ideal” marriage material of the womankind – the good partner “willing to work with the spouse on making the relationship better long-term.” The characteristics range from having similar value systems, kind personality and positive outlook to an advance-level ability to handle setbacks in life while being open to “trying new things in the bedroom” and the epitome of selflessness excelling in “intelligent conversation” too. Oh ya, and you apparently “don’t dwell on his past mistakes.” 

Your “good character” doesn’t let your partner stray and your “upstanding morals” make you the perfect steal, OTT Bahurani meets Barbie meets Beyonce meets Bronte meets Blake Lively! Bravo!

If all this is raising some hackles, a little bit has been said about “husband material” too. The overall traction isn’t comparable by far to wifey stuff but it’s there for the record and includes: a man who can ask you to marry him – Awwwww. A man who always finds you beautiful. A man who brags about you. A man who let’s YOU pick the wedding theme – take that! A man who doesn’t judge you. And lo and behold a man who respects his own mum! A good sense of humour and “a strong bond with his pet which in turn hint that he’ll make a good dad” are cherries on the marriage cake. 

Stop rolling your eyes sceptics, this isn’t a work of fiction, I did not make things up, God promise, these are legit points from deep research into the subject across spectrums. It makes total sense when you realise marriage, after all, “is an attempt to solve problems together which you didn’t even have when you were on your own.” Real deep! 

Mission’s clear girl. Focus on the prize. Be worthy of it. Cher may say “men are not a necessity they are a luxury, they are like dessert you don’t NEED them to live” but the dedicated “wife material” here is doggedly goal-oriented. And the goal is getting her name on the shimmery wedding card even if that means she’s got to be a siren and saint rolled in one for a husband who’s part Anil Kapoor of Beta and part John Wick! 

Views expressed by the author are their own

Patriarchal stereotypes Wife Material sexist ideology