'Tradwives' are marching into the kitchen. But is this white supremacy tied up in apron strings or a symptom of something more mundane, writes Tory Shepherd.
'Tradwives' are marching into the kitchen. But is this white supremacy tied up in apron strings or a symptom of something more mundane, writes Tory Shepherd.

Meet the ‘tradwife’: Hates feminism and serves her husband

OPINION

For years - well, between six and seven decades - plenty of men have been yearning for a return to the 1950s. A time when no one bugged them about the gender pay gap and dinner was on the table by 6.30 every night.

Now a bevy of women have joined those men. They want to don aprons, spend their afternoons baking, and be the only ones who ever get to scrub the toilet.

They dream of Hoovering in heels, putting on a pretty pinafore, putting their husbands and children first, and learning how to elegantly blow their noses.

They're calling themselves "tradwives" - a mashup of "traditional wives". Don't mistake them for stay-at-home mothers, or today's housewives. Or women on maternity leave or women who just prefer staying home with the kids or who kind of have to because it's not worth paying for childcare.

Meet the ‘tradwife’: hates feminism, serves her husband. Picture: istock
Meet the ‘tradwife’: hates feminism, serves her husband. Picture: istock

These women actively embrace subservience. It's as though Jordan Peterson and Bettina Arndt got together and baked them out of red velvet cake dough. And put a cute little love heart on top.

The United Kingdom's Alena Kate Pettitt is the perfectly made-up face of the movement. She told a BBC documentary that "husbands must always come first". And lucky Alena, her mister gives her a "little something for herself" so she doesn't always have to ask for money. Women should submit to men, spoil them "like it's 1959",' she says.

In the 1950s, women had bugger-all options for contraception, they were allowed to get raped in marriage, domestic violence was even more hidden than it is today - oh, and it was much trickier to get a divorce.

Yet somehow these women are putting on their sepia-toned nostalgia glasses and wishing they could go back.

"Our aprons are our superhero capes!" one cried on Twitter this week.

"The term #tradwife is trending because there's value to be reclaimed in being a wife, and a mother," said another.

"The tag works because it comes to women first hand: unlike 'housewife' and 'SAHM', there's no such thing as 'just' a tradwife. It's simply, Tradwife."

If you try to delve into the history of the movement, you swiftly bump into reports that these baby makers were borne of the white nationalist movement. You can see the similarities - a rejection of modern life with all its strident demands for freedom and equality.

The Aussie Nationalist Blog talks about a "battle for survival", because the author sees criticism of tradwives as an attack on people who want to have white babies.

A Voice For Men, the toxic anti-feminist hate group, can't decide what to think.

In one blog an author writes it's a "no-brainer" that women would "be more happy in a traditional role-play", but that it's men who need the freedom to do what they want.

Meanwhile, in a separate piece, some poor guy busts his guts twisting it into a story about "typical slave husbands" being manipulated by women into servitude.

(I wonder if there's a chapter on slave husbands in the Good House Wife's Guide).

Are these women yearning for an imaginary past where life was simple and good? Or are they part of the backlash against feminism, and the ongoing impossibility of work/life balance for women?

Or is there another reason?

The 1975 film The Stepford Wives gave a creepy insight into subservience. Picture: Supplied
The 1975 film The Stepford Wives gave a creepy insight into subservience. Picture: Supplied

Academics Catherine Rottenberg (an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham) and Shani Orgad (Media and CommunicationsProfessor at the London School of Economics and Political Science) point out what seems to be a highly polished piece of hypocrisy: "Tradwives … have become successful entrepreneurs who monetise their trad-wifehood," they wrote in The Conversation.

"The movement, more generally, depends on savvy entrepreneurial women like those who, through their social media activities, classes, courses, advice books, and products, advocate and popularise trade wifehood as a desirable choice and identity."

And it's true. They're running sophisticated websites, publishing blogs and books, filling up social media with pictures of styled selfies and buns in ovens. They're on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

If it wasn't for the submission, it'd just be another terribly modern phenomenon.

@ToryShepherd