What is the ‘wifey’ material complex and why is it problematic?

It's common to hear someone be called 'wifey material' in this day and age, but maybe it's not the compliment that many think it is.

Katie McNeill
17th November 2021
Image: @stocksnap via PixaBay
“Wifey” is a term used by men in the 21stcentury to describe the ideal girlfriend. Derived from the noun "wife", it is used to identify a girlfriend -  signifying her potential as a wife or possibly implying she has spousal attributes.

It implies a good girl who stays home, can cook and clean, does as he says in sickness and in health… but is this not an outdated view of what a wife really is? Are men looking for a woman from the 60s compared to an independent 21stcentury feminist? And why is the term so problematic?

Guys only want to bring a ‘wifey’ home to meet the parents but are looking for a different girl at 4am on a Friday night.

I often hear guys say, “she’s the kind of girl I would bring home to my mum” or “she is wifey material”. Does this only apply to a certain category of women? What makes women worth of the title and do we want to own it? Is this setting unrealistic standards for women to reach to become ‘wifey’? Guys only want to bring a ‘wifey’ home to meet the parents but are looking for a different girl at 4am on a Friday night. Why can’t all girls be ‘wifey’ material and why are we letting men create this divide. Many of my friends find the term condescending, assuming and rude. They also believe it can depend of the context. A long-term boyfriend calling you ‘wifey’ is different than some guy in the post-night out kebab shop saying it to make you feel special, but only looking for one thing – you call me ‘wifey’ from my apparent appearance, yet know nothing about me?

Image: @ArtsyBee via Pixabay

Last week on a night out I was introduced to a guy. He looked at me and asked, “How good is your Sunday roast” (before he had even asked my name). I asked him, “why do you ask?”. He replied, “I’m looking for a girl who can cook”. This reply made me laugh but was also the end of the conversation. This made me think – are men who are looking for a ‘wifey’ really just looking for a ‘Mummy’? I feel that a lot of men looking for these ideals in women are looking for someone to look after them with ‘homely’ attributes and mother them - to do their washing, cook for them and give unconditional love with a smile. In other words, a second mother. 

Upon research of asking my fellow flatmates, a few of the boys believed that a ‘wifey’ is a girl who respects them, is polite and thoughtful. This gave me a new insight to a positive, less problematic view on ‘wifey’ – simply a name to refer to a girl they could see spending a long amount of time with in a relationship. 

However, I believe the term ‘wifey’ is only as problematic as your personal view on what you want a wife to be. I believe it is problematic if you have outdated unrealistic views on women, trying to make them fit unattainable standards. However, if you view a ‘wifey’ as a girl you genuinely care about and truly respect her independence, the term is only as problematic as you make it. 

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