Why I hate books titled “The [Blank]’s Wife”

I have never read a single book with a title like The Time Traveler’s Wife or The Tiger’s Wife or The General’s Daughter, etc. (There’s a Goodreads list of all 65 books that use this awful, cliched convention.)

Some of these are probably good. Maybe even feminist or subversive. But I can’t get past the title(s) for two main reasons:

  1. Naming the man’s profession (because it’s never That Awesome Lady’s Daughter/Wife) and relegating the woman to “wife” or “daughter” implies that the man can be defined by what he does, but the woman can only be defined by her relationship to the man. (If you don’t know why this is offensive…read this comic.)
  2. Supposedly these books are about these women (judging by the titles), but the man gets more recognition before you even have a chance to open to page one, because again, his profession or title is named, and the only thing we know about the woman is that she’s his wife or daughter.

(If you’re about to say, “You’re being too sensitive!” you didn’t read that comic, did you?)

Women—even fictional women characters—deserve more than being relegated to being only some dude’s wife or daughter. We are all more than the roles we play in our homes, work places, and social groups. We are the sum of all these things and we are more: We love, we play, we create.

Yes, a title is an encapsulation of a book and therefore by necessity simple and brief. But if the summation of your protagonist is that she’s someone’s wife, I really don’t want to read your novel.


What do you think?

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