TradWives: Daring To Ignore Feminism’s Big Questions

The intersection between feminism and wifery is getting crowded.


Why does it have to hurt so much?

Traditional adversaries, this convergence has bent philosophy into a massive black hole right at the center of everything.

The Tradwife: Traditional, But Aware

The Tradwife is easy to find these days. She has a big presence on Catholic Twitter in English, Spanish and Portuguese. She is Classically Abby. She likes to write about her “Traditional” life. Tradwife blogs sprout like flashy toadstools along the rotting bark of conservative thought.

They frustrate the shit out of me.

Tonight someone Tweeted out an article from a local English paper featuring an unflattering write-up of self-proclaimed Tradwife Alena Pettitt, who "… has embraced the role of a traditional 1950s housewife and says her husband is the most important person in the house – above herself and their son."


"Alena met her marketing high-flyer husband in 2008 when the pair worked together. The 34-year-old even let him write her resignation letter."

A little ‘50 Shades,' anyone?

Why does it always have to be like this?? Why does playing the domestic role mean portraying a Sub for your Dom? For many women, focusing on the home is a practical life choice. Alena spins this up into kinky fantasy fulfillment.

"She's now encouraging other women to live like her and has set up her own blog called The Darling Academy – a community of women who value the role of a traditional housewife.

Of course she has.

"’I wanted to set up The Darling Academy because we don't have domestic sciences at school anymore. Most people have to go out to work, but absolutely everybody needs to run a household – so I think we should be learning more of those skills. I want to provide a place where someone can learn old school homemaking skills.’"

This sounds… fine. It might even qualify as a good idea, no one in my generation knows how to fix anything.

But what do sewing lessons have to do with submission? And why is she someone Suzie Homemaker should turn to?


Tradwife Alena Pettitt and her BFF

"Mother-of-one Alena..."

OK, here’s a red flag. Common wisdom says parenting doesn’t really begin until you don’t know which kid did what.

As anyone paying an ounce of attention knows, I have four kids. Multiple sibling family systems are an order of magnitude more complex. Our friend Alena is prone to the tone-deaf language of the privileged life.

“I eventually quit my job because I was so unhappy. While searching for another job, my partner was financially supporting me and I was looking after the home.”

"Something just clicked, and we realised that this lifestyle of me caring for the home whilst he went to work, really suited us and we were both so much happier."

Why isn't this enough? Why do these women feel the need to cloak their vividly wholesome ideas in “Tradition?”

New Look! Same Great Taste!

"After falling pregnant with their son in 2011 and walking down the aisle in 2013, Alena quit her job for good and took on her dream role as a ‘tradwife’ by working in the home."

It sounds like they have been together long enough to know what works for them.

"Alena says she has always dreamed of being a traditional British housewife and admired women such as Doris Day when she was growing up."

There is nothing wrong with this. Girly-girls not being on-trend puts them in a defensive position they’re unaccustomed to. Worse, it exposes the hypocritical core of mainstream modern feminism.

Alena details her position over at The Darling Academy, "I believe "feminism" is a woman's right to make her own choices for her life.

One more time, for the people in the back – Just because a woman made a decision doesn’t make it a feminist decision. Ice cream flavors aren’t political. Sometimes a liberated choice is impossible. ‘I did it, therefore it’s fine!‘ makes you feel amazing without requiring too much thinking.

While making a name for herself educating housewives, Alena isn’t shy about reminding us just how little reading she has done: "I have long held the suspicion that not everyone was, nor is, as enthused about second, and even third wave radical feminism as we have been led to believe."

Alena seems blissfully unaware that the third wave and the radfems are currently locked in a winner-take-all slugfest. Especially strange for an Englishwoman, the UK being Ground Zero in the Gender Wars.

Paying attention is a waste of time. Alena’s conclusion is pre-determined. The veil of political awareness hides the familiar face of the Good Woman.

Green Lantern

Ok, ok, you caught me!

Wait, I Know This Tune

Classically Abby may be spamming the hell out of YouTube, but she spent a lot of money for some terrible metrics. Most women are suspicious of the “classic” or “traditional” message, and we have our reasons. 

Alena tells us about her struggle getting her message across. She promises she’s not racist – “Open your eyes and you'll see proud traditional housewives of colour from all over the world!"

Yes, many of them have no choice.

As clueless as Alena is, she doesn’t really want to send us back to the 50s, even if  “we had stronger role-models fighting our corner in those days… like Phyllis Schlafly vs. the ERA.” American politics are not her best subject.

But she has plenty to say! Part of her manifesto reads, “I'm sure dear housewife, that you already feel a certain level of judgment concerning your lifestyle choice… Traditional women who are speaking out about our invisibility in the media … experience constant belittlement … reduced to … pretty puppets and mouthpieces of this imaginary ‘evil patriarchy' the young women of today are brainwashed into fearing.

Many women live with fearful consequences of patriarchy every day. Forced marriages. Honor killings. FGM.

And I just want to say, ‘invisibility in the media’? Moms are in every sitcom, saying the right thing and making your favorite dinner. If anything, middle-aged women are typecast as Mom.

This must be that White Feminism I hear so much about.

Alena is riffing on feminism, improvising in her own key until it’s barely recognizable. She’s hoping you won’t notice she’s singing the same old song. It’s just so damn catchy…

Buried deep in the ‘About’ page, I found what I was starting to hope I wouldn’t: “A TradWife is a Proverbs 31 woman."

Of course. Because Jesus sure is happy about my modest dresses and home-cooked meals.

Give me a break. Many of the Tradwives are open about their Christian impulses, but most of them employ the guise of political awareness.

Gloves Off

No more playing nice!

Is Anyone Home?

Alena surprised me in a few places, “… a new cultural movement and modern media agenda promote the idea that work outside of the home is the only thing that makes you worthy … It slyly suggests you lay aside the role of the traditional housewife in order to fit in, or indeed feel liberated!"

Wait, is she actually talking about women’s liberation? Who does that??

A TradWife is not controlled by others. Neither by her husband, or her boss. In fact, she has more freedom under the headship of her husband than she does an employer… Her husband cares for her wellbeing far more than any employer ever could."

It’s bold to claim no one controls her. Alena reminds us over and over that submitting to your husband is lovely, and it’s really for the best. But it’s not a stretch to hope your husband cares more than some random manager.

If modern feminism actually means a woman can't be a housewife or celebrate what makes her beautiful and different from men, then I want no part of it – it would have become the very thing it is fighting against (the oppression of women's choices).

This is her strongest point, and she makes it over and over. With this rhetorical sleight of hand, Alena asks you to gawk at liberal hypocrisy, hoping you won’t notice the God behind the curtain. She’s throwing the glitch at the heart of modern liberal politics right back in its face – Authoritarianism for the Greater Good is still authoritarianism.

Whose Tradition Is It?

The Traditional Christian Housewife wants to see herself as a rebel, even as she unquestioningly perpetuates ancient hierarchies. But it’s not her insanity that upsets me.

"The difference between TradWives and the current day housewife is that we take the career of a housewife very seriously." You lying shit. The difference is that you are on a mission from God but know we will reject a hard sell. We know it was God who got us into this mess, but you keep making excuses for your abusive boyfriend in the sky.

Big Girl Big Gun

Look cute while defending your way of life!

Let’s be honest whose “Tradition” we’re talking about. 

Alena is annoyed that people associate her with white supremacists. She meticulously clarifies,  “a TradWife is not racist, she is inclusive. As much as she believes in the natural order to gender, so she believes in the natural and rich tapestry of life which brings with it a variety of races, cultures, and beliefs.

That tapestry has been picked apart and stolen for hundreds of years, by people from her “Tradition.” 

The Christian Church has been oppressing one group or another for 2 millennia, give or take. Women have been a particular favorite. Jesus has played the Pied Piper enticing us along the path to forgetting ourselves. The Church sponsored many a witch trial.

Not to mention the British Empire! Alena’s enthusiasm for these ideas evidently didn’t bleed over into research.

"It isn't racist or overtly conservative to be want to be a good housewife and mother,” True enough. “…it's just common sense!" Oh honey, if you could just put that entitlement away for a minute…

"[I] spoke at great length to dispel further rumours about the TradWife movement – sometimes it's best to hear it from the horse's mouth than rely on the opinions of lazy journalists with wildly different lifestyles to this one."

Judge not, Alena. We can do better than this.

Even White Feminists (Occasionally) Have A Point

She is one of the very few I have seen challenge the accepted divisions of ‘freedom’ and ‘oppression.’ Her strongest point is the wall I beat my head against every day – Is getting a job really any more liberating than getting pregnant? Alena and women like her apparently still live in a world where this is a choice.

"It confuses me that anyone would think that being a traditional housewife is ‘anti-feminist’

Let’s unpack this most intimate of feminist riddles a bit.

Alena can’t get past her bad press, and she has noticed a pattern: “Out of the many publications I have been quoted in, I'd wager that only around 10% have been written, or hosted by men. Is it the media that hates us, or women themselves?” Ooh, that might almost pass for deep thought!

Nevermind that women are probably who the editor chooses to send out to interview the Kooky Homemaker.

"So long as you, the mainstream media, continue to try and cancel traditionalism, and the at-home role of the wife and mother – you'll see me in the opposite corner ready to fight for it."

Pissed Off

Why won’t you just listen??

Translation: You misunderstood me, and communication is hard. It’s more fun to believe you’re biased against me, so my resentment makes my daily life feel like rebellion.

…So, is she traditional, or rebellious? I want to say she’s confused, but that implies an attempt to think things through.

"Journalists themselves claim to be seekers of truth, when the only truth they know is how to write up an article to align with a specific agenda.” Takes one to know one, I guess.

Yep, our media outlets are mouthpieces for our corporate overlords. This isn’t a theory anymore.

"…and indeed expose the fact that though these ladies claim to be feminists fighting for women's freedom – they are in fact shutting down and ‘canceling' other women's choices to be housewives. By labeling it as extreme."

The primal fear of being dragged back into the kitchen makes the very notion appear threatening.

Collective Kitchen Nightmares

Alena’s moments of clarity only make her more frustrating. Her dizzy dance distracts from the contradiction at the heart of her message – After you submit to your husband, how do you un-submit?

And dance she does: “Women's Lib turned women out of their homes and into the workforce, this was a fantastic move for equality, but their newfound sense of ‘freedom' was purchased at an overwhelming cost. It was at great spiritual cost that we learned to perceive our value in the balance in our bank.”

This is what I have been saying! But I don’t think Jesus is the answer, hon.

Working women would do well to honour this side of them just as much as their workplace contributions." Alena, your privilege is showing! For too many of us, it has become about getting by instead of personal fulfillment. For many more, it always was.

Alena seems to have no concept of this, despite theoretically having been a working professional before tuning in to Jesus and dropping out of the Mainstream to go be Traditional. Do we really need Jesus to protect us as we go back in the kitchen?


Hon, are you sure you can’t come with me? Honey??

Should we judge ourselves for our security blankets as we step into this ancient, forgotten world?

Men are never going to do half the childcare. It’s just not physically possible, and many women dig into those early days with a myopic fervor. (Maybe it’s nice to get to focus on something for once...) But we have to compartmentalize our Momself. We drop Kiddo with Grandma and go back to work.

This has been the quiet desperation for a long time now, at least for just about everyone I have ever known. Women like Alena appear to live in a parallel universe, where jobs pay and Jesus saves. Here in the United States, with 60% of businesses permanently closed, going back to work may not be an option.

Which really sucks, because our jobs aren’t just about pocket money anymore. We all know kids are expensive, but nobody prepared me for helping my 17-year-old get a job for the same wage I was making in 2004. It wasn’t great, even then.

Alena and the Tradwives (Holy shit, my next band name!) get away with their nonsense because they dwell in feminism’s Blind Spot. In our desperation to be unchained from the kitchen, we refuse to acknowledge how we came to be there.

Feminism’s Blind Spot

Only women can have babies.

We shouldn’t have to – No lifestyle is right for everyone. This is so simple, yet we let ourselves be gaslit over and over. We are easy prey, insecure in our right of refusal.

OK, society seemed to say, You can choose your lifestyle, but Default is not a choice.

You can be a software engineer, an actor, a journalist, Secretary of State. But Mother is in addition to any of these. Mother is a given. Mother is not a choice, Mother is assumed.

If you don’t build yourself a career to rival a man’s, all the while Mothering in the background, you are slacking. You will never Have It All that way, and it’s All or Nothing.

So when Alena complains about the negative reaction she gets from the career gals who interview her, I bet she’s not just being paranoid. To choose Motherhood is to admit that it’s a job. To choose Motherhood confronts the contradiction at the center of many women’s lives.

Only women can have babies. If none of us do, the next generation won’t exist. Alena whines about how the media are destroying “Traditional Family Values,” never mentioning economic or social factors.

Hey Kid

I love you… Hey kid, are you even listening?

Or that those “Traditional Family Values” kept us chained to the kitchen all those years.

Jesus can’t save us from how women are tied to our children in a way the men in our lives just aren’t. The Tradwives are infuriating, they are so close to saying something important but end up just taking all the air out of the kitchen.

It’s possible to focus on raising your kids, pursuing your hobbies and a relationship with your husband without being compelled to justify yourself to anyone who will listen.

It’s possible to go domestic without shrouding that decision in mysticism. If you don’t find the Goddess in your Kenmore, who can blame you? The grinding, granular work of teaching young people how to be people is important enough, it doesn’t need a fancy aesthetic or political posturing.

Because we can choose not to have any children at all! I have taken hormonal birth control most of my adult life, mindful always of my good fortune. We get to determine our value for ourselves.

We are no longer chained to the kitchen. As we gingerly approach the dusty hearth, we are not the same women who left. Our moment arrives when we embrace this, and stop pretending we know what we’re doing.


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