Culture

Why Are Conservative Women Romanticizing 1950's Housewives on TikTok?

An editor’s take on the traditional wife trend.

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4,412 Hypes

Why Are Conservative Women Romanticizing 1950's Housewives on TikTok?

An editor’s take on the traditional wife trend.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to stumble on the conservative side of TikTok, chances are you’ve probably encountered the latest “trad wife” trend.

The disturbing videos usually feature a cis straight white woman, longing for the ’50s — an era where some women could opt out of participating in the corporate working world and be stay-at-home mothers instead. The ’50s were a time when being a homemaker was the default career choice for women and there was no need, or option, for the “fairer” sex to go out into the workplace. At a time when the cost of living is at an all time high and inflation is affecting everything from the prices of our groceries to our dating life, it is no wonder why many are turning away from hustle culture and are yearning for a leisurely life in the woods.

@esteecwilliams What it means to be a Tradwife. #fyp #tradwife #homemaking #housewife #traditional #tradwifecontroversy #womenschoice ♬ Music Instrument – Gerhard Siagian

These women, however, have mistakenly conflated the effects of late-stage capitalism with feminism and the fight for true gender equality. Let’s not forget that marital rape wasn’t outlawed until the 1970’s and women of color couldn’t vote, much less were treated like people. The timing of this antiquated trend is slightly suspicious as the lines between state and church in America continue to bleed into one another, stripping many of their bodily rights and autonomy.

What conservative women on TikTok are completely leaving out is the fact that the housewives of the 1950’s heavily relied on the help of women of color to effectively run their households and raise their children.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a stay-at-home mother or finding pleasure in adhering to traditional gender roles. If your choices make you happy, go for it. What’s wrong with the tradwife trend is that it romanticizes a time when staying in the home and marrying a man as a means for socio-economic survival was mandatory, while women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community were nowhere near equal.

The misguided conservative niche is classist, racist, heteronormative and completely misses the point. Firstly, in order for a couple to survive on one income, the working partner — in this case, the man, would have to be making six figures at the very least. I wonder if the creators of these videos would consider their male partners wanting to be the stay at home spouse instead. While TikToker @jlmock4.0 points the finger at feminism for forcing women to work a double shift or take on the domestic labor on top of an eight hour work day, she ignores the fact that gender roles are to blame. Feminism urges us to examine why women perform over $10 trillion USD in unpaid labor at home.

@jlmock4.0 May or may not be an actual necklace from the 50’s. ??‍♀️ #vintage #housewife #feminism #timetravel #funnyvideos ♬ original sound – jlmock4.0

Capitalism works in tandem with the patriarchy to ensure that women are treated as sources of labor in both the public and private spheres. Women would not feel confident in even attempting to split household chores with their male partners, were it not for feminists questioning the gendering of certain tasks. This is not to diminish the fact that being a stay-at-home mom is hard work.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a stay-at-home mother or finding pleasure in adhering to traditional gender roles. If your choices make you happy, go for it. What’s wrong with the tradwife trend is that it romanticizes a time when staying in the home and marrying a man as a means for socio-economic survival was mandatory, while women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community were nowhere near equal.

Let’s be clear — the very real bullying willing stay-at-home moms face comes from the underlying resentment we’ve been conditioned to have towards traditionally feminine activities.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a stay-at-home wife, but romanticizing a period that mandated all women’s subservience and silence isn’t the key to giving caretakers the respect they deserve. The reason these videos are gaining steam is because of the misogynistic idea that domestic work is not real work. While some women have unfortunately internalized this notion in an effort to be taken seriously in a “man’s world” and subsequently belittled housewives, reminiscing over a time in which women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts is not the answer.

The misguided conservative niche is classist, racist, heteronormative and completely misses the point.

On the surface, these insidious videos try to comfort homemakers who have wrongly been told by so-called feminists that they should feel ashamed for wanting to care for children and a household rather than work in the office. In reality, TikTok’s tradwives inadvertently minimize the work that goes into being a stay-at-home mom by romanticizing it. It would be nice to relax at home all day and bake cookies, but domestic labor often consists of so much more. Maintaining a household, while caring for multiple children and yourself is more exhausting than it is idyllic. This is why white upper middle class women would hire extra help, often arriving in the form of Black and Brown housekeepers. What conservative women on TikTok are completely leaving out is the fact that the housewives of the 1950’s heavily relied on the help of women of color to effectively run their households and raise their children.

The irony of the tradwife trend on TikTok is that these women only have the choice to stay at home because of feminism. While many in the comments are celebrating the trend for attempting to revive a time when working inside the home was commonplace for women, it completely ignores the fact that staying at home was mandatory. Longing for the good old days when women were housewives seems a little less rosy when you remember they had no choice. It’s even funnier when you realize the tradwife TikTokers are making money off of their conservative propaganda and therefore, working and contributing to the very system they hate.

The answer to the burnout we’re all feeling because of capitalism’s rampant demands is not to go back in time to when women were treated as second class citizens and forced to defer their dreams in order to survive. While things are far from perfect and we have a long way to go in terms of achieving true gender equity, the latest tradwife trend on TikTok is a dangerous attempt at revising a history that was only better for some.

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