A tradwife (a neologism for traditional wife or traditional housewife),[1][2][3] in recent Western culture, typically denotes a woman who believes in and practices traditional sex roles and marriage. Many tradwives believe that they do not sacrifice women's rights by choosing to take a homemaking role within their marriage.[2] Some may choose to leave careers to focus instead on assuming the father's half of unpaid family work.[2][4]

The patriarchal housewife aesthetic has since spread throughout the Internet in part through social media featuring women extolling the virtues of behaving as the ideal woman.[5]

Tradwife aesthetic edit

 
A Frigidaire refrigerator advertisement from The Ladies' Home Journal represents the lifestyle idealized by many tradwives

The tradwife subculture is based on advocating for patriarchal traditional values, and, in particular, a 'traditional' view of wives as mothers and homemakers.[6]

Despite this, the group is diverse demographically and ideologically.[7] Influences on trend range from 1950s-era American culture, Christian religious values, conservative politics, choice feminism, and neopaganism.[6][7][8] Commentators have noted that "there is more class than racial diversity in tradwifery, though the content is not as white as one might assume".[7]

According to an article published in Refinery29, while most tradwives are white, a growing number of Black women are embracing the concept of patriarchal marriage, not explicitly using the "tradwife" neologism, but instead framing their identity within a "submissive" or "Biblical" marriage. These Black women claim that "traditional marriage is the key to liberation from being overworked, economic insecurity, and the stress of trying to survive in a world hostile to our survival and existence".[9] The article criticized this perspective as lacking awareness of broader structural and social issues.[9]

Practices edit

Key to the tradwife identity is being a stay at home wife or a stay-at-home mother and the various uncompensated activities involved in managing the household such as cooking, cleaning, managing laundry, and tending to vegetables.[6] Additionally, special attention is paid to the importance of raising children, although in a sentimentalized fashion that conflicts with the emotionally authentic and available motherhood (and fatherhood) of egalitarian, equal responsibility marriages.[10]

A report in America magazine, a Catholic publication, has also reported that some Catholic tradwives have adopted the practice of wearing veils: a practice embraced by some Catholic women as a means of reverence and submission.[11]

Finances edit

Some women who identify as tradwives prefer a division of labor wherein their husband manages family finances more broadly while they focus on managing food and household consumables.[12][13] A high-profile example of this is Canadian Cynthia Loewen, a former Miss Earth Canada, who abandoned plans to pursue a medical degree in order to be a full-time housewife.[14] She stated that she finds fulfillment from the arrangement of her husband as the breadwinner and her in charge of the home, and that she is "more happy as a result".[14]

Reactions edit

The tradwife aesthetic has been criticized due to associations in the United States and Britain with the alt-right and white nationalism,[4] and critics often stipulate that tradwives embody what has been described as "toxic femininity" and internalized sexism.[15][16][17][18] Critics claim this is a tactic used by male alt-right adherents to recruit more women to far-right causes.[5]

Despite the link to extreme right-wing ideologies, not all tradwives endorse extreme ideas, and ideology is not an integral part of the subculture.[6] Prominent British tradwife influencer Alena Pettitt posted on social media in 2020 that she was "dumbfounded" by the media's "smear campaign" against tradwives, arguing they were all being unfairly linked to extremism.[6]

Charles Sturt University academic Dr. Kristy Campion, who specializes in extremism, has researched tradwives and says that people should avoid "denouncing all tradwives as far-right extremists, holding them accountable for views they may not hold and demonising what is, for many women, an extremely personal choice".[6]

Seyward Darby discussed the tradwife aesthetic in her 2020 book, Sisters in Hate: American Women and White Extremism, and shared interviews with women who call themselves traditional.[19] She found that some women in the movement espoused tenets of the American political far right, including white supremacy, antisemitism, populism, and other ultraconservative beliefs.[19] Other researchers have identified a wide range of political views among tradwives which, while primarily conservative, range from the moderate to the extreme.[8]

Relationship with feminism edit

The tradwife culture has a complicated relationship with feminism, being at times criticized or supported by feminists.

While some who follow the tradwife aesthetic suggest that it is a rejection of feminism in favor of a return to simpler times and family systems,[2] journalist Wendy Squires supports women's right to be a tradwife and describes the ability to choose as a feminist success.[10] She rebuked critics saying:[10]

"The last thing we need as women is for some of us to feel superior and judgmental of others. Putting women down is the patriarchy's job, not feminism's."

Feminism that deconstructs the "choice fallacy" (i.e. the "choice" between taking adult financial responsibility in a family or being an adult financial dependent) and illustrates the value to children of the two earner and two parent home, especially its emotional authenticity, is in conflict with "tradwifery."[20]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Malvern, Jack (January 25, 2020). "'Tradwife' is there to serve". The Times. Archived from the original on March 13, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Rob Brown (January 17, 2020). "'Submitting to my husband like it's 1959': Why I became a #TradWife". BBC News. Archived from the original on January 17, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ... growing movement of women who promote ultra-traditional gender roles ... images of cooked dinners and freshly-baked cakes with captions ... A woman's place is in the home ... Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman ... particularly controversial because of its associations with the far right....
  3. ^ Norris, Sian (May 31, 2023). "Frilly dresses and white supremacy: welcome to the weird, frightening world of 'trad wives'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on May 31, 2023. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Vi Maislis (December 16, 2020). "Why Is Everybody Suddenly Sharing These Alt-Right Memes?". Hey Alma. Archived from the original on January 16, 2021. Retrieved September 20, 2023. The blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl is supposed to represent a "tradwife," or traditional wife: a group of real conservative women who celebrate holding traditionally feminine roles, following their husbands, and being white... In one meme, she is positioned side by side with a caricature of a "liberated feminist" — the feminist being the one mocked,.. The tradwife meme seen going around is not "just a joke," but a clear example of alt-right, racist, and antisemitic tropes entering the mainstream online discourse.
  5. ^ a b Annie Kelly (June 1, 2018). "OPINION: The Housewives of White Supremacy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ...Enter the tradwives. Over the past few years, dozens of YouTube and social media accounts have sprung up showcasing soft-spoken young white women who extol the virtues of staying at home, submitting to male leadership and bearing lots of children — being "traditional wives." ...
  6. ^ a b c d e f "'A soft face for saying extreme things': The dangerous elements in the tradwife subculture". ABC News. August 21, 2021. Archived from the original on August 30, 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c "The Agoraphobic Fantasy of Tradlife". Dissent Magazine. Archived from the original on August 30, 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Sykes, Sophia (July 7, 2023). "Tradwives: The Housewives Commodifying Right-Wing Ideology". GNET. Archived from the original on August 20, 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  9. ^ a b Burton, Nylah. "Black "Tradwives" Think Marriage Is The Key To Liberation & Economic Survival". www.refinery29.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved October 11, 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Squires, Wendy (February 21, 2020). "Is it any wonder the 'tradwife' lifestyle is so alluring?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on August 30, 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  11. ^ Simcha Fisher (December 3, 2019). "The types of women who veil at Mass". America magazine. Archived from the original on December 30, 2019. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ...Then came the tradwives, who veil with a vengeance. These young Catholic women are highly active on social media, and they gleefully tout their physical beauty as a poke in the eye of feminism. ... a woman's job to please her man with a fit body, on point makeup and lustrous hair that gleams as brightly as the lacy veil that covers it....
  12. ^ AMY HUNT (January 24, 2020). "What is a 'tradwife' – and why is the idea proving so controversial? You may have heard of the terms housewife, stay-at-home mum, or the like. But why are 'tradwives' getting everyone talking?". Woman and Home magazine. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ...A 'tradwife' (short for traditional wife) is a 21st century woman who has decided to embrace super traditional, conventional gender roles, by 'submitting' to their husband and not working, staying at home to do the typical household chores, and care for the children.... considering it actually has origins in far-right circles, predominantly in the US....
  13. ^ "'Tradwife' woman claims wives should submit to their husband and spend days cooking and cleaning: A mum has revealed that she left her high flying job to join the 'Tradwife' movement". Heart 96-107. January 22, 2020. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ...She added that she felt alienated growing up in the 90s, where attitudes to male and female roles were becoming more liberal, saying: "The culture at the time was anything but what I enjoyed and it definitely made me feel like an outsider. "It was all kind of, let's fight the boys and go out and be independent and break glass ceilings. But I just felt like I was born to be a mother and a wife. "What I really related to where the old shows of the 1950s and 60s."...
  14. ^ a b Cliff, Martha (June 9, 2021). "Canadian woman quits medical career to become a 'Tradwife': This Canadian woman spends all day at home cleaning and lets her husband 'lead' – insisting she is more happy as a result". news.com.au. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ....A woman who trained to be a doctor has revealed why she chucked it all in to become a homemaker. Former Miss Canada, Cynthia Loewen, had been set for a high-flying career in medicine but just a few years ago she decided to leave it all behind....
  15. ^ Freeman, Hadley (January 20, 2020). "'Tradwives': the new trend for submissive women has a dark heart and history: A certain kind of housewife has found social media and is airing the details of their fight with feminism. But maybe they should tone it down a notch". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ...But this isn't actually about fighting the system: this is about women fighting against their own insecurities about their lives. ... it is very much part of the "alt-right" movement.
  16. ^ Rottenberg, Catherine; Orgad, Shani (February 7, 2020). "Tradwives: the women looking for a simpler past but grounded in the neoliberal present". The Conversation. The Conversation Trust (UK) Ltd. Archived from the original on June 2, 2021. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  17. ^ ABC News, Bridget Judd, February 23, 2020, Tradwives have been labelled 'subservient', but these women reject suggestions they're oppressed Archived September 2, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved October 2, 2020, "...Others have likened it to an extension of white nationalism, propagating the belief that women should focus on their "natural" duties of childbearing and housekeeping..."
  18. ^ Jones, Sarah, October 28, 2020, New York Magazine, Trump's Base Isn't Housewives, It's Tradwives Archived January 3, 2022, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved January 2, 2022, "...The tradwife is going to stick with Trump and the Republican Party. ..."
  19. ^ a b Darby, Seyward (2020). Sisters in hate : American women and white extremism (First ed.). New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-48778-8. OCLC 1238089281.
  20. ^ Dinnerstein, Dorothy (2021). The Mermaid and the Minotaur: The Classic Work of Feminist Thought. Other Press, LLC. ISBN 978-1-63542-094-4.[page needed][self-published source?]

Further reading edit

External links edit