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‘Tradwife’ Content Isn’t Really for Women. It’s for Men Who Want Submissive Wives.

Tradwife content has been a social media phenomenon for a few years, and even though the trend creates a lot of discourse online and off, I’ve resisted writing about it because I think it’s a trap.

For the uninitiated, “A tradwife (short for traditional wife) is a woman,” typically a conservative Christian, “who prefers to take a traditional or ultratraditional role in marriage, including the belief that a woman’s place is in the home,” according to one of the genre’s more popular creators. These conventionally pretty influencers depict themselves cooking elaborate meals, tending to their children and doing housework. Their posts sometimes come with florid captions about the joy and freedom that come from submitting to their husbands, because biblical submission doesn’t connote inferiority. They tend to dress either in 1950s cosplay or barefoot in gauzy, long dresses.

The whole discussion can be a trap because the content itself is meant to be a heightened provocation — some tradwife creators post things that they label as triggering opinions and then say they get so much hate for being stay-at-home moms. But they rely on that dissonance in order to create more engagement (which leads to more clicks and more money).

These posts have a way of painting feminists as haters who resist their true nature and casting career women in opposition to women who don’t work for pay. The reality is that stay-at-home moms and working moms are frequently just the same people at different points in their lives and that content creation is a paying job: My favorite example of this is the tradwife pitching a $5,900 set of courses on how to be a tradwife.

Further, there are tons of reasons any parent might opt to stay home that don’t require buying into tradwife values: Work isn’t always satisfying or well paid, some people want to spend a majority of their time with their kids, and child care is so expensive that it can push a lower-earning parent out of the labor market, to name a few. And as an avowed lover of #cleantok, I have no problem with content about household tasks, but that’s separate from what the tradwives are often cynically pushing. When people criticize the way tradwives troll, they’re very likely to respond that their detractors simply don’t value the hard work of raising children and running a household — when many of their critics value that work tremendously and do it themselves.

That said, I’m not particularly concerned that young women watching TikTok are going to be so influenced by this content that they’ll start fleeing the secular world en masse to submit to their husbands, live on farms and bake aesthetic pies. That’s because young women are increasingly rejecting this specific kind of domestic arrangement.

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