I *Was* Going to Rant…

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I sometimes feel that I’m very much behind a lot of cultural shifts and trends — I hear about them years after they’ve got rolling.

But there’s an advantage in that: I only spend attention bandwidth on events and phenomena that look like they’re going to stick around. Like the recent wild bear/strange man in the woods meme that is perplexing men around the world at the moment, and making a lot more of them very angry.

There’s another cultural “thing” that I just learned about, that appears to be rolling along very well indeed. And honestly, the whole idea of it makes my stomach turn.

And while I know, acknowledge and wave <waves> to the many men who read my books, this post is, I’m afraid, addressed almost entirely to women. I’ll catch up with you guys another time. Promise.

The tradwife trend.

Even if you haven’t heard about tradwives, just the name alone (and my post image) should clue you in very nicely.

Tradwives are women who have chosen to embrace the traditional patriarchal marriage, where she stays home, cooks, cleans, and raises the children, while her husband is the sole bread-winner, and the head of the household.

While it is no longer the law in most countries of the world that a wife obey her husband, tradwives nevertheless choose to.

They deliberately take a submissive role in their marriage.

The earliest reference I could find to “tradwives” was 2020. But that’s coming up on four years just for the name. There are earlier discussions about women taking traditional roles in marriages, from as far back as 2016. So this has been building for a while.

For a long and useful explanation of tradwives, check here.

This is where I was going to lose it.

My first reaction to the idea of tradwives was fury.

My mother’s generation spent decades in protests, marches and political rallies, fighting for equality, for the right to vote, to work, to even open a cheque account by themselves.

My generation has pushed the envelope even further. We’ve cracked the glass ceiling (but it hasn’t quite shattered yet). Women can serve in the military, can become priests…they can literally do anything they want.

And there are near-global laws saying that a woman can decide for herself on just about every aspect of her lives. (I’m going to skirt the whole reproduction issue — it’s one of the last to topple, and we (women) were forced back a step a couple of years ago.)

Millions of women for a dozen generations have fought to provide their younger brethren with every opportunity they could possibly desire.

And the younger generations, those who want to be tradwives, are basically telling all of us who have fought, bled and, sometimes, died to give them these rights, “fuck you, I don’t want them.”

At least, that was my first reaction.

Tradwife is a choice.

While the feminist in me writhed in horror, eventually I managed to cool off enough to think it through.

My next reaction was to say; “I don’t get it, I don’t understand why any woman would deliberately choose such a life, but I will defend to death her right to choose it.”

Because that is, in the end, the ultimate aim of feminism: to give women the right to choose how they want to live every aspect of their lives. There are too many men out there trying to tell us how to live our lives. Tradwives don’t need feminists added into the mix, too.

I even think I understand it.

I heard myself saying “I don’t get it,” and realized that, actually, I think I do get it. I think.

I don’t know any tradwives. I’ve never talked to one (they and I move in completely separate circles), although I did briefly visit the site of one of the movement’s icons, Cynthia Loewen. Briefly. The content of the site made me deeply uneasy. Just the fact that she’s holding up clothes and looking like she’s won the lottery makes my heart patter…because it underlines the old, severely limiting sexism that a woman’s appearance is everything.

I’ve done a bit more research since learning about this movement, and as far as I’ve been able to break it down, these are the reasons a woman might choose to be a tradwife. I’m not making judgement calls about any of them:

  1. Politics. I can’t ignore that there is a strong affiliation between tradwives and the US extreme right.
  2. Religion. Traditional Catholicism encourages the same values in a marriage that a tradwife embraces. More extreme Muslims sects do, too.
  3. To simplify modern life. This one is a biggie, I think. We’ve all watched local versions of soccer moms driving themselves into the ground, trying to “have it all” and end up with very little of anything except stress-induced ulcers and heart attacks. Tradwives are the opposite of soccer moms. Women who choose to be tradwives could be deliberately choosing to not be soccer moms, and all the heavy negatives of that lifestyle.
  4. To feel safe. This possible reason occurred to me when all the hoorah about the fact that close to 90% of all women would rather meet a wild bear in the woods than a strange man. I know exactly why women feel that way. I was a working “girl” when the prejudice and exploitation of women in the workplace seemed overwhelming. I can’t name one single job I had up until I moved to Canada, where men didn’t comment on my clothes and appearance, where they didn’t flirt heavily, use a lot of sexual innuendo in what should be business conversations, or where, at least once, hands “accidentally” brushed my breasts, my ass, and on one memorable occasion (that I enshrined in Her Outrageous Proposal,) my genitals. I was propositioned by men (both married and single) at least once every quarter. And they were all my superiors.

    By the time I moved to Canada, most of that had gone underground. It was a lot more subtle, but it was still there to a degree. And it’s the heavily disguised sexism that is the worst. Sometimes you’re not sure if you’ve imagined it. Or worse, wonder if you invited it in some way. And even worse: You don’t want to speak up because you know of at least one woman who did speak up and lost her job a few weeks/months later, for stated reasons that were weak or invalid. This happened to me at least once. And one other occasion is murky and difficult to judge, but highly suggestive.

    So I get why young women would choose, instead, the submissive, stay-at-home mother role, despite the loss of financial and personal freedoms, because at home, they’re secure. And so are their kids.

All of these reasons, or combinations of them, or even other reasons that I haven’t thought of, are perfectly valid reasons to choose the tradwife way of life.

But there are drawbacks to the life that no one seems to be talking about.

Tradwives are demonstrating that it’s okay to treat them as second-class citizens

By choosing submissive roles in patriarchal marriages, tradwives are telling the world that this is an acceptable way to treat all women. Humanity has demonstrated throughout history that it has huge difficulty dealing with the members of a demographic individually. Women all get lumped under the same heading. So the choices that tradwives make will spill out upon other women, who don’t want to be treated that way.

Tradwives will reinforce the notion of judging a woman by her appearance — something we’ve been trying to off-load for nearly a century.

They will be applauded in large sections of the populace (politically-oriented strata of the community, and religious groups), who will use the wedge these women have provided to crack open equal rights even further, and start chipping away all the progress we’ve made.

What’s a woman to do?

Make your own choices with care and deliberation…and fight to keep the right to make them.

As I said earlier, the whole point of feminism is to give women the freedom to choose in every area of their life. So exercise that right.

You don’t have to get out there and march, and wave a placard. Just by choosing to control all areas of your own life, you’re demonstrating to other women, educating men, and teaching your kids valuable lessons about women’s rights.

Small decisions we make in everyday life can have huge effects. This is a theme I wrote about on Cameron Cooper’s blog a couple of days ago, and although the context is very different, it is a different type of demonstration that the decisions of one individual can make a difference.

<rant averted>

Scandalous Scions Box Four out soon!

2 thoughts on “I *Was* Going to Rant…”

  1. Good afternoon Tracy,
    I don’t think of a stay at home person as less. If the spouse or partner treats them a partner and recognizes the value they bring to the family/relationship then they are not being treated as second class citizens.
    My grandmother once said to me that we lost some of our power when we chose women’s lib. She saw herself as the power in the home. She raised 6 children from the 30’s thru the 60’s. They did not see her as second class but strong.
    I am 68 and glad for the things I have been able to try in my life. I have always supported a person right to choose the way their life should go. Thank you for your thoughts, I do enjoy your writing. Jane

    1. Hi Jane:

      I wasn’t implying that a stay-at-home person is in any way “less” than anyone else. But a patriarchal marriage, by definition, does mean a woman is giving up many rights that the feminist movement fought to acquire for her…and while I agree that every woman is free to make that choice, it is handing over a negative example to the rest of the world.

      If some women choose to obey their husbands in all things, and seem to be happy and thriving under those limiting circumstances, the wrong people may take that as evidence that *any* woman really doesn’t need all the rights we’ve been (finally) given.

      And that’s an impression I would not like to see spread very far.


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