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Tradwife-ing

June 7, 2023

As I sometimes feel an obligation to be informative here on the blog, today’s post is educational. It deals with the “tradwife” (traditional wife) movement, and I am guessing most of my readers are as ignorant as I was (until just the other day) about it. We can fix that! Let’s dig in, shall we? 

Many young people are rebelling against their own upbringing, when they watched their working moms exhaustedly try to juggle full time employment with full time caregiving and home management. They’re looking back to the halcyon days of yore, the 1950s to be precise, when everything was…just…you know…better. We’ve seen the “Leave it to Beaver” reruns! Who among us women hasn’t dreamed of vacuuming in our high heels and pearls, right?

 So, of course, the incubator for the tradwife fad has been: TikTok. There, one can find many videos of Barbie-fied young women wearing vintage dresses and frilly aprons, cooking from-scratch meals, and singing the praises of being stay-at-home wifeys and moms. These gals don’t want to bother their pretty little heads with the pesky concerns of careers and finance. They defer in all things to their husbands, which is clearly what God intended. Btw, God also clearly intended for men to wear fedoras every day, and to don slippers to read the evening paper while awaiting dinner. God must be so disappointed in us!! The evening paper isn’t even published anymore!!

 While it isn’t quite as ridiculous as a yearning to return to, say, the Great Depression would be, wannabe tradwives should keep in mind the dark underbelly of the Fabulous Fifties. It wasn’t all hair appointments and bridge clubs! It was also a time before civil rights, and many women’s rights too. Father Knows Best was a given, even if “father” was a real jerk. Far too many women were stuck, forever, in miserable marriages. Good luck striking out on your own, girls, with no credit card, checking account, or access to a well-paying job! 

 Like all fads, I predict the tradwife will eventually go the way of the Twist and Pet Rocks. While there is a tiny grain of truth underpinning the movement (today’s women ARE expected to do it all, and it can be really soul-sucking), I don’t think the answer is to surrender our hard-won agency at the door. I for one have no intention of asking Steve for an allowance, or permission to buy that cute frock in the window of Bailey’s Dress Shoppe. I’m proud that my daughters earn good money working in challenging careers. I cannot imagine them wearing frilly aprons, except ironically. 

 The grass is always greener when we look at the past through the lens of nostalgia. And some of our modern world is problematic for sure (don’t get me started on AI !!) But let’s be careful when we try to revive the “good old days.” Bringing back family meals and board games? Sure! TV dinners (especially that yucky Salisbury steak) and oppression? No thank you!!

 

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    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: www.eliseseyfried.com or email me at eliseseyf@gmail.com.

     

     

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