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Beware the Temptation of Embracing the ‘Tradwife’ Lifestyle

Unlike the synchronous experience of watching television, where viewers tuned into the same channel witness identical content, the landscape of social media presents a divergent array of posts tailored to individual users. This personalized content stream is meticulously crafted by algorithms, the inner workings of which remain largely undisclosed. Essentially, these algorithms discern users’ preferences and curate a feed based on their interests, resulting in a unique browsing journey for each individual. Consequently, my Instagram feed brims with an abundance of canine-themed videos, reflecting the algorithm’s perception of my inclinations. Nonetheless, occasional deviations from this canine-centric content occur, driven by the algorithm’s interpretation of my preferences.

Recently, a prevalent trend on the internet suggests that I, alongside countless other women, am inclined towards consuming “tradwife” content. The term “tradwife” amalgamates “traditional” and “wife,” encapsulating a lifestyle where women embrace roles as devoted wives, mothers, and homemakers to an extraordinary degree. These individuals eschew external employment, although their perspectives on working women vary—ranging from a nonchalant acceptance of diverse choices to a belief that women in the workforce contravene divine intentions. Central to their ethos is the emphasis on submitting to their husbands as the household’s authoritative figure, extending beyond mere tax considerations. While the specifics of this content vary, the common thread among these women is their youth, physical attractiveness, and Caucasian ethnicity, often set against picturesque, rustic backdrops featuring elements like vegetable gardens, artisanal bread, and charming toddlers.

In their online presentations, tradwives frequently underscore the “unconventional” and rebellious nature of their lifestyle. While the desire for uniqueness and nonconformity is understandable, the veneration of the domestic sphere as the paramount domain for women is deeply entrenched and age-old, with the only modern addition being the ubiquitous smartphone.

Let me unequivocally state that I harbor no objections to any spouse, regardless of gender, embracing a homemaker role. My own mother dedicated several years to being a stay-at-home mom until my sibling and I reached kindergarten age. Personally, I recently took a month-long hiatus from work, reveling in the freedom from the constraints of a time clock and relishing the rhythm dictated by the needs of my dependent companions (in my case, dogs, not children).

The appeal of a tradwife lifestyle is palpable, particularly for impressionable teenagers navigating today’s tumultuous world. Amidst societal chaos, the allure of structured traditional gender roles and the focus on marriage and family as quintessential life goals is understandable. These relationships often imbue life with purpose and significance, prompting one to ponder the temptation of eschewing the conventional 9-to-5 grind in favor of wholehearted dedication to familial pursuits.

However, the peril lies in complete financial reliance on another individual—typically, a man—owing to entrenched “traditional” norms. Regrettably, in our society, financial resources equate to power, extending their influence into the realm of relationships. What recourse do these tradwives have if faced with an abusive partner? How would they extricate themselves or their offspring from such a predicament? Divorce proceedings entail exorbitant costs, and even in scenarios where the husband proves to be flawless, unforeseen circumstances can arise.

Reflecting on my grandmother’s narrative, who married at 21 in 1960, bore her first child in 1961, and was widowed by 1962, sheds light on the precariousness of relying solely on a partner for financial stability. Despite benefiting from a substantial life insurance payout, she found herself destitute in her mid-30s during the mid-1970s, entrusted with the care of three young children. Her resilience, coupled with familial support, cushioned her fall, underscoring the importance of financial independence. Such cautionary tales underscore the arduous battles fought by second-wave feminists for workplace inclusion and economic autonomy. It is imperative that today’s young women internalize these lessons, lest they realize too late the fallacies embedded in idealized narratives.

The resurgence of interest in the tradwife archetype coincides with a regressive wave in our society, marked by a right-wing backlash against women’s rights, epitomized by the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. Evidently, a faction of conservative Christianity seeks to enforce their interpretation of biblical precepts on the broader populace. Leveraging a blend of enticing lifestyle portrayals and legislative restrictions, they aim to relegate women to subordinate roles within society. Coercion often masquerades as choice, with individuals unwittingly succumbing to external pressures.

To young women contemplating a life steeped in biblical womanhood and submission to a husband, my counsel is simple: safeguard financial autonomy that remains beyond your partner’s reach. While working outside the home may conflict with traditional doctrines, financial independence is a safeguard against unforeseen adversities. In a world where uncertainties loom large, the concept of a dowry—a financial safety net—may warrant reconsideration in contemporary contexts.