Anti-feminist champions, tradwives advocate for a return to traditional values, with a penchant for the aesthetics of the fifties. But these neo-housewives also promote ultra-conservative agendas.

 Submitting to one’s husband as in the 1950s is the creed of tradwives. Not familiar with this term?  Yet, this trend born in the United States has amassed over 541 million views on TikTok. A fusion of “traditional” and “wife,” this phenomenon advocates for a strict return to a traditional way of life. The woman solely manages her home (and children), while the man goes out to work to provide for the family’s needs. In practice, it’s just another model, one that predominates (or still exists) in many societies. There’s absolutely nothing abnormal about being a housewife, temporarily or continuously, and certainly not in  finding it fulfilling. 

Submissive Woman

 However, tradwives go much further. They generally preach an ultra-conservative and reactionary discourse, peppered with good old patriarchal values, where the gendered assignment of roles is essential. . The man is the “leader,” the “head of the family”; the woman is the “follower.”

Being a tradwife means claiming to be a “submissive wife”: a submissive woman. As American Estée Williams, the leading figure of tradwives on Instagram, aptly puts it, “My husband’s desires come before mine.” But such a mindset can lead us down a dangerous path: rape culture, control, domination. We’re not talking about pampering one’s spouse, being attentive to their well-being, but indeed domination!

Thus, Estée Williams – who exclusively wears pin-up girl dresses – rejects the world of work, contraception, abortion, and financial independence — and  independence altogether since she doesn’t even go to the gym without her dear husband and doesn’t leave her house after dark. Her role? Taking care of her home, being sexy no matter what, and longingly  awaiting her husband.

Please note: Estée Williams lies;  the content she posts on social media generates income, making it a full-fledged professional activity.

Idealization of the 1950s

 Not all tradwives dress in vintage 1950s dresses, but this decade represents their ideal, a golden age. Moreover, it’s not just them who fantasize about the fifties. For example, performer J-Lo herself created a clip inspired (in part) by the 1950s. The difference being it was a feminist anthem.

 Why such nostalgia? Aesthetics first: pin-up girl style, pop and pastel colors,etc. In short, it’s post-war, the era is joyful, and decidedly more feminine as well –despite the fact that many women  at the time were bored to death, according to journalist Betty Friedan in “The Feminine Mystique” (1963). They also  completely missed out on their potential, physical and/or intellectual.

It was, seemingly, a less complicated time as everyone stayed in their place with clearly defined roles. Yes, but at what cost for women? That of their emancipation and their psychological and physical autonomy.

Furthermore, since the tradwives trend originated in the United States, do we really need to remind you that  segregation between Blacks and Whites was the law in the 1950s? Do we need to tell you that  the country’s workforce was largely supported by white women pumped with medication to cope (painkillers, antidepressants) and exploited black women? It’s not the editorial team saying this; it’s a homemaker (also an author) who explains it perfectly.


Replying to @Nicole Schock we have put both this and the e collar on ourselves. Can these tools cause damage if used incorrectly? Of course they can. But so can any type of training tool or method when used inappropriately, even force free methods. #strugglecare #dogtraining #prongcollar

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An Ultra-Political Aesthetic Trend

 This golden age of tradwives has never existed. But this mantra of “it was better before” is currently playing everywhere in the world. For example,  there is Eric Zemmour in France, lamenting a “feminization of society,” advocates for a return of the “strong man,” believing that a woman’s place is at home. In Morocco, while a second reform of the Family Code is underway, it’s Abdelilah Benkirane, former Prime Minister, who believes that giving more rights to women is a “threat” to the balance of society. Thus, tradwives represent just one of many threads, alongside masculinists & co, of ultra-conservatism — all laced with reactionary religious discourse.

Proof: initially, tradwives were merely an epiphenomenon on the Reddit platform (the den of evil, LOL), in 2013. It was only after the election of Donald Trump (icon of the far right), in 2016, that tradwives gained momentum. They even appropriated Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” to transform it into “Make Traditional Housewife Great Again.” It was also the year that the blog, Darling Academy, created by another tradwife star, Alena Kate Pettettit, skyrocketed. However, since then, the young woman has denounced the excesses of this trend, even claiming it has become “a monster.” In fact, tradwives embrace the values of the American far-right and the evangelical movement. Moreover, they represent one of Donald Trump’s electoral bases as he is vying for a second term as president.


Backlash and System Failure?

The tradwives phenomenon has intensified further after the #MeToo movement in 2017, and then the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, this trend is one of the many conservative and masculinist backlashes against the global feminist movement. Throughout the history of feminism – which started around 1850 – every advancement, every step towards equality, justice, has provoked a backlash.


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♬ الصوت الأصلي – KHALID ALOLYAN 🇸🇦🐪

 But since tradwives are also women, perhaps we should try to see beyond our personal convictions. Okay, they advocate a conservative discourse, but don’t they also point out the failures of a system? 

Everywhere in the world, women are the first victims of poverty, instability, stress, and frustrations related to the world of work, and of all forms of possible and imaginable social pressures. The tradwives phenomenon might (also) be a response to all this, as they choose the “comfort” of their homes over a world of work deemed too violent.

Picture (c) : Vogue

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