In Defense Of The “Tradwife”

By Allison Schuster – Thursday, May 9, 2024

The corporate media has a new punching bag – so-called “tradwives,” or women who choose to embrace a more traditional role as a homemaker and mother. As the “tradwife” trend has grown in popularity on social media, so too have leftist critiques of this supposedly “sexist” and “dangerous” conception of womanhood.

One recent hit piece from Time Magazine entitled “The Truth About the Past That ‘Tradwives’ Want to Revive” is indicative of the media panic over the idea that women might not want to work outside the home.

In the article, author Jacqueline Beatty, a “historian of early American women and gender,” warns that tradwives “are exploited as pawns of the right, laundering extremist views and transforming them into ostensibly more palatable packaging.” She further worries that women who promote the tradwife lifestyle on social media “entice their followers with soothing videos of sourdough bread baking and #OOTDs [‘outfits of the day,’ a popular trend on social media] evoking prairie chic or Donna Reed, with dangerous consequences.”

And just what are those dangerous consequences? According to Beatty, “advocacy for the ideology and principles of so-called ‘traditional’ gender roles in marriage ultimately have the effect of promoting a return to the days of coverture and an erasure of the hard-fought (if incomplete) gains of women’s rights activists throughout American history.”

In other words, if you dress conservatively, bake bread, and care for your children, watch out – you might be peddling extremist right-wing ideology and destroying women’s rights.

But Jacqueline Beatty is hardly the only one concerned about the “dangerous consequences” of the tradwife lifestyle. Back in February, Time ran another piece from psychologist Vanessa Scaringi on “the false escapism of soft girls and tradwives.” According to Scaringi, the “decline in young women’s mental health” is directly connected to the tradwife trend. She further calls it “troubling” that women are being drawn “back into such traditional roles.”

(Notably, Scaringi never stops to consider whether the reverse may be true; that young women are anxious and depressed because society is pressuring them to eschew being a devoted wife and mother, while embracing traditional gender roles may alleviate anxiety and depression rather than causing it.)

Teen Vogue is sounding the alarm about tradwives as well. In late April, they warned that (gasp!) the tradwife lifestyle promotes “fundamentalist religious values.” The Washington PostThe New Yorkerand The Sun have all also recently lamented the supposed horrors of the tradwife phenomenon.

But despite the corporate media scolds warning about the supposedly sinister nature of being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, tradwife influencers on social media are only continuing to gain popularity. Estee Williams, whose Instagram bio reads “Traditional Wife,” has garnered 120,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 200,000 on Tik Tok for her content. Hannah Neeleman, a mother of eight who posts baking and gardening content, boasts 8.9 million followers on Instagram and 7.1 million on TikTok.

For the left, the tradwife trend presents a direct and existential threat to their cultural dominance – hence the media’s rush to condemn tradwife influencers. While the left has for decades sought to erode traditional gender roles and the family as the foundations of society, the tradwife lifestyle re-asserts those values and, more concerningly for the left, makes them appealing to the youngest generations.

But in attacking tradwives, the left unintentionally reveals that it has no real interest in “empowering” women or “liberating” them from traditional gender roles.

In Beatty’s Time article, for instance, she dishonestly insinuates that more women becoming homemakers and stay-at-home moms could lead to a rollback of laws against marital rape and the return of coverture, an 18th-century marriage law whereby a woman was legally under her husband’s protection and authority.

Of course, tradwife influencers do not promote any erosion of women’s legal rights, and the idea that being a homemaker means giving up protections against abuse and violence is ridiculous on its face. The purpose of Beatty’s argument is transparently to scare female readers into believing that embracing traditional gender roles means giving up all autonomy and agency.

The characterization of traditional gender roles as inherently oppressive is also an insult to women who choose to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers. The message from the left to traditional wives seems to be, “choose to live your life however you want, but don’t choose that.”

Unfortunately for the left, the media freakout over tradwives may only succeed in making the content more popular on social media, thereby making the lifestyle more appealing to more women.

For decades, the left has tried to convince women – and men, for that matter – that individual achievement, defined by financial and career success, is the ultimate path to happiness. But as more and more people discover that to be an empty promise, the country may be on the verge of a great resurgence of the value of family and marriage as the true path to fulfillment.

Allison Schuster is a contributor for AMAC Newsline, the Federalist, American Greatness, and the Conservateur, as well as a proud 2021 graduate of Hillsdale College.