Faculty Writing: On “Wifey” from Dilettante Army

In the latest issue of Dilettante Army, the editors (among them BISR’s Rebecca Ariel Porte) set out to explore “a coinage” that, on the internet at least, appeared to be “having a moment.” “Wifey”—a designation that generated contributions more or less in protest against it, according to the editors—proved in the end rather hard to pin down. 

BISR faculty Sophie Lewis accepted the prompt as an occasion to explore the “dialectic of the tradwife” (a sort of feminine ideal (to some) that “amalgamates aesthetic elements of the middle-class American 1950s—baking in heels—and the courtly European 1550s—walling your beautiful wife and kids up in a fort while you go off on crusades”) by asking, what might be its opposite? Turns out, Lewis observes, its ostensibly antithetical number is in crucial ways not so, as neither the girlboss nor the tradwife has yet been “delivered from the double shift” of waged and domestic labor.

BISR faculty Danielle Drori likewise opted for an oblique approach to the coinage, recording a tableaux of images in her dream diary of an “ex-wifey.” Via excursuses on Freud (on dreams as well as jokes—marriage being “the target for the majority of cynical jokes”), Talmudic philosopher Rabbi Eliezer, and her own relationship with her mother, Drori explores the grounds of intimacy—in marriage, in mothering—by way of the “unconscious terrain” of dreams, wherein toilets, boats, bridges, windows, ex-lovers, childhood friends, and rotten burek are up for interpretation.

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