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  • Writer's pictureKirra Pendergast

The "Tradwives" trend on social media

Over the past few months, I've had several close friends contact me, sharing photos of 'trad wives' that have been appearing on various social media platforms, especially Instagram and TikTok. They've been curious about my thoughts on this trend.

My concern, as always, lies in how specific polarising views might influence young people who stumble down rabbit holes of this content. In a few cases, there is what seems like an internalised patriarchy rearing its head. For instance, women might undervalue their own abilities or accept gender-based discrimination as normal. Similarly, men might feel compelled to conform to traditional masculine roles or views, even if these do not align with their personal beliefs or values. It's essential for us to instil critical thinking in our youth so they understand that they have the right to choose their path in life without succumbing to online influences.

What some of these 'trad wives' are advocating can, in a way, be seen as a form of reverse bullying. They post messages implying that all women should conform to their lifestyle, suggesting that this is the only way to be a 'real' woman. Such assertions can become problematic.

To explore this, I asked our Youth Advisory Council for their input, and we have two pieces: one from 19-year-old Lenny and another from 17-year-old Madison.

For the accompanying images in this story, I asked ChatGPT to generate an image of a 'tradwife' and then one of a working mum. These AI-created images serve to highlight the diverse interpretations of these roles.

Perspectives By Lenny 19yrs and followed by Madison 17yrs below

The social media algorithm loves an argument, and nothing drives engagement like a heated debate about the role of conservative values in our socially progressive society. There’s really nothing better than reading these part-time sociologists argue in the comments of a Tik Tok of a woman packing her husband’s lunch. That brings us to this new topic: the emergence of the ‘tradwife’. This is the new-ish term, short for ‘traditional wife,’ for a woman who espouses and practices a much more traditional role in a marriage, preferring to stay at home to carry out domestic duties, take care of the children, and be a homemaker. At least, that’s how it appears on the surface. 

From what I’ve seen of the response to women on Tik Tok and elsewhere who endorse this lifestyle, the feedback seems remarkably harsh. One headline from style and culture magazine ‘The Cut’ leads with the phrase ‘Is Tradwife Content Dangerous, or Just Stupid?’ So why is there such open hostility to what appears to be an informed choice on the part of a small minority of women? 

Firstly, it seems the tradwives have cultivated a very neat aesthetic that almost appears like a parody of peak 1950’s domesticity. Women stayed at home and looked after the kids, men went out and made the money, everybody lived happily ever after, etc. This seems to me an incredibly one-dimensional assessment of a time which, contrary to what tradwife proponents seem to think, was neither simple nor easy for women. The idea that this family structure represented the natural state of things is, truly, idiotic. The marketing and capitalist propaganda of the ‘50s was so good that it still has men and women longing for the vintage charm of indoor smoking and rampant amphetamine use among women who struggled to conform to this ridiculous ideal. 

There seem to be a lot of issues attached to this movement, which has spurred on justifiably strong reactions from many. Without going too in-depth, (you can read about these phenomena elsewhere), this movement could be characterised as a dog whistle for the far right, and a damaging precedent to set for boys and young men making their way out into the world. 

Then we arrive at the economic factors of today. How many people can really afford to raise kids in a stable home on a single income? The answer is very few. Recent statistics show that more than 80% of households have more than one breadwinner; this displays the parochial nature of the tradwife trend, and its stunning inability to see beyond the realities of the modern day. It requires a degree of economic privilege to intentionally leave the workforce to mother children full time, as unfortunate as that is. This brings me to the other tradwife issue, which is that is seems to eliminate the role of the man in child rearing. In all the videos I’ve watched, the men are seldom seen. Are we just to assume that they’re always at work, bringing in the money? The whole concept just seems so soulless, and that’s reflected in how performative all of the Tik Tok and Instagram videos are. It all just looks like women LARPing in a warped conception of feminine excellence, which for some reason, despite it’s ‘traditional’ skew, includes these smutty, tightly cinched aprons that I’m sure they would say are essential to the practice. 

And they do think it’s excellent. In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with a woman who makes a conscious choice to spend her time at home with her children, beautifying her home, supporting a husband, and whatever else they feel like doing. The problem is the level of condescension involved, as if this is peak feminine existence. The whole idea makes me bored and tired. Why are we rehashing this experiment again? 

Yet I feel it’s also important to understand where this trend might stumble upon some credible ground, even if unintentionally. From my perspective as a 19-year-old straddling boyhood and manhood, it seems like the world is still predicated upon some very masculine principles. Especially in professional and cultural spheres, it seems both men and women are exhorted to work harder, to prioritise productivity and to maintain a constant energy around this. People on the more ideological end of the tradwife spectrum might use this argument to place women back within a very cramped and domestic box, which is in itself a deeply misguided impulse. 

What I’m getting at though, is that maybe it’s time to reconsider the ways in which we keep pushing women into the masculine sphere in order to survive and live anything approximating a prosperous life. Positions within the 9-5 workday structure have been historically occupied by men, and hence designed to prioritise the hormonal and emotional cycles of men. The male hormonal cycle is 24 hours, with testosterone peaking in the morning, meaning men are perfectly in sync with our current conception of the workday. This completely ignores the 25-35 day hormonal cycle of women, who are encouraged, even expected, to function consistently and unerringly at similar levels of productivity throughout the month, regardless of the menstrual cycle. 

If the tradwives really wanted to be radically traditional, they wouldn’t attach themselves to these misguided principles that still insist on elevating men and confining women to these extremely narrow roles. To truly be trad, maybe we need to start evaluating the roles of women and men within our society based upon our natural hormonal cycles and energetic patterns. If we considered these principles, I think there is amazing potential to advance feminism further, by 

injecting an element of equity into the very design principles by which we build the world together. 

In any case, the tradwife trend is probably just a phase. I think most people see right through the act, so its staying power is limited. The tradwife content producers will probably lose interest quite quickly, and themselves move on to more interesting things. In the meantime, I have no interest in going anywhere near it again. - by Lenny Dowling


The 1950s. The post-World War II boom, TVs became more common in households, and women were homemakers and stay-at-home mums while men worked. An era where women were known for their vintage dresses, curled hair, bright lipstick, aprons and subservience and devotion to their partners. They had limited rights, were prone to abuse and had little to no life outside of their homes. Sounds bad, right? Well, this era and attitudes are quickly resurfacing in the Tradwife Trend.

The Tradwife Trend (or movement) is where women act as ‘traditional wives’ mirroring the behaviours and attitudes of a 1950s woman. One account, @tradwiferoriginal states “Tradwife stands for educated women who prefer a role of feminine and respectful submission in a loving relationship.”

These women have traditional and conservative values and believe a woman’s sole goal is to serve and cater for their husband’s needs and create a family. Their lives revolve around cooking, cleaning, staying at home and not working. They encourage traditional, feminine dressing and have a large focus on being presentable and beautiful. They also believe in a ‘simpler lifestyle’, the ‘nuclear’ family and that motherhood and wifehood should be women’s top priorities.

They are often against women going to college or university, and many prefer to homeschool their children. They believe in traditional gender roles, with the man being the masculine breadwinner and the woman being the submissive homemaker. They also hold high value in returning to the ‘natural order’ of life and turning back time to the conservative ways of decades past, criticizing the changes in society due to ‘woke culture’.

Users such as @esteecwilliams are fully turning back the clocks, adopting the whole look and lifestyle, whereas women like @jasminedinis put a more modern spin on this trend. Many are Christian, and majority adopting this lifestyle are Millennials or Gen Z. On the surface this movement may seem harmless and fun, but there are also many issues.

Although varying in extremism, many groups harbor racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic ideals, similar to that of the 50s, and accounts and groups become the basis of many conspiracy theories regarding the government, the COVID-19 pandemic and more.

They ‘slut shame’ young women, criticize ‘nagging wives’, belittle the work of feminists both present and past, and degrade and look down on other women for their autonomy and rights.

Their ideals take away the rights of the women participating in this movement and suggests to them that they have little value to society other than in the household. It goes back in time and corrupts the efforts of other women who have fought so hard for the rights and freedoms we have today. Some sources have suggested it may creates a generation of young women to believe that they have no autonomy or rights.

Although this trend seems cute and fun on the surface, it is easily a breeding ground for unsafe behaviours and can heavily influence the people participating. It takes away from the rights and freedoms of women and conveys to them that they have little value other than being a mother and wife. - by Madison Jones

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