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A Frigidaire refrigerator advertisement from The Ladies' Home Journal (April 1948, p 258)

A tradwife (a neologism for traditional wife or traditional housewife),[1][2][3] in recent western culture, typically denotes a woman who believes in traditional sex roles and a traditional marriage. Many tradwives believe that a woman does not lose rights by choosing to take a traditional role in marriage. Some may choose to leave careers to focus instead on family and meeting their family's needs.[2] A high profile example of this is Canadian Cynthia Loewen, a former Miss Canada, who abandoned plans to pursue a medical degree in order to be a full-time housewife.[4] She stated that she finds fulfillment from the arrangement of her husband as the breadwinner and her in charge of the home, and that she is "more happy as a result".[4]

According to Google Trends, online searches of the term "tradwife" began to rise in popularity around mid 2018.[5] Traditional housewife aesthetic has since spread throughout the Internet in part through social media featuring women extolling the virtues of behaving as the ideal woman.[6]

Tradwife aesthetic[edit]

For some women who identify as tradwives, submitting to a husband means putting him in charge of all of the family's finances, with the wife getting a spending allowance.[7] Alena Pettitt felt "alienated" growing up in the 1990s, and didn't like the sentiment of "let's fight the boys and go out and be independent and break glass ceilings", and instead she related to the TV shows of the 1950s and 1960s.[8] She explained:

Because he's the bread winner it's his department to look after the family. He oversees major finances. If I want to spend money and change sofa he says 'no', as he’s aware of what's going in and out. He gives me an allowance. I get the money to look after my department, the consumables of the house. If I’m frugal with it whatever is left is mine.

— Alena Petitt, explaining her position on the show This Morning[7]

A report in America magazine, a Catholic publication, has also reported that some traditional Catholic adherents have adopted the practice of wearing veils–a practice embraced by some Catholic women as a means of reverence and empowerment.[9]

Similar views[edit]

East Asia[edit]

"Good Wife, Wise Mother"[edit]

"Good Wife, Wise Mother" (also "Wise Wife, Good Mother") described the traditional woman in East Asia, including Japan, China and Korea. The phrase was coined by Nakamura Masanao in 1875.[10]

Traditional views of the ideal woman in East Asian society at the time included domestic skills as well as moral and intellectual skills to raise strong, intelligent sons for the sake of the nation. Chinese families traditionally emphasized prosperity, so a wife should have also not only been fertile, she needed to produce sons and educate them so they could succeed in society.[11]

During World War II, the phrase was used in Japan as propaganda to promote conservative, nationalistic, and militaristic state policies.[12] Childbearing was considered a "patriotic duty", and, although this philosophy declined after World War II, feminist historians have noted that it endured there as recently as the 1980s.[11]

Three Obediences and Four Virtues[edit]

The Three Obediences and Four Virtues was a moral code of behavior for single and married women in East Asian Confucianism, especially in Ancient and Imperial China.[13] Women were to obey their fathers, husbands, and sons, and to be modest and moral in their actions and speech. This code has heavily influenced ancient and imperial China and other East Asian civilizations such as Japan and Korea as prescribed social philosophical thoughts even into the twentieth century.

In accordance with the Three Feminine Obediences, a woman is obligated not to act on her own initiatives and must submissively obey or follow:[14][15][16][17]

  1. her father at home, before getting married;
  2. her husband after getting married;
  3. her sons after her husband's death.

The Four Feminine Virtues are:[18][19][20][21]

  1. Feminine Conduct;
  2. Feminine Speech;
  3. Feminine Comportment;
  4. Feminine Works.

Ban Zhao (49–120 CE), elaborated on these in her treatise Lessons for Women, stating, "This is what is meant by woman's work."[20]


Kinder, Küche, Kirche is a German slogan translated as "children, kitchen, church" and was used under the German Empire, likely originating from the second volume of German proverbs Glossary: A Treasury for the German People published in 1870 by Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander, which states the "Four K's are requisite of a pious woman, namely, that she keeps regard for church, chamber, kitchen, children." He also lists another similar phrase: "A good housewife has to take care of five K: chamber, kids, kitchen, cellar, clothes." This appeared first in the 1810 collection of German proverbs by Johann Michael Sailer.

During the early 20th century, the National Socialist Party directly addressed women, urging a return to traditional family values with patriarchal families in which women took traditional roles such as stay-at-home mothers and housewives. Hitler argued that for the German woman her "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home" in a September 1934 speech to the National Socialist Women's Organization. The ideas of "kinder" and "küche" were stressed in nazi propaganda, and Reichsdeutsche mothers who exhibited strong morals, exemplary motherhood, and who bore at least four or more children received the Cross of Honor of the German Mother decoration.

While women in Germany were discriminated against in employment during this time, once World War II broke out these same women were eventually placed into factory work due to large losses of male workers to the armed forces and lack of equipment on the front lines. It is now used to describe an antiquated female archetype akin to contemporary the United States' "barefoot and pregnant".

The Virgin Mary is a supposed ideal of true femininity and the ideal womanhood for Hispanic women.

Latin America[edit]

Marianismo revolves around the veneration for feminine virtues and supposed ideal of true femininity that women are supposed to live up to—i.e., being modest, virtuous, sexually abstinent until marriage, and being faithful and subordinate to their husbands. Characteristics stem from a central figure of Catholicism, Mary of Guadalupe. Marianismo defines standards for the female gender role in Hispanic American folk cultures, and is strictly intertwined with Roman Catholicism. Political scientist Evelyn Stevens states: "[I]t teaches that women are semi-divine, morally superior to and spiritually stronger than men." In marianismo, Stevens argues, it is the bad woman who enjoys premarital sex, whereas the good woman only experiences it as a marriage requirement.

Therapists Rosa Maria Gil and Carmen Inoa Vasquez observed beliefs in many of their patients intrinsic to marianismo:

Don't forget the place of the woman; don't give up your traditions; don't be an old maid, independent, or have your own opinions; don't put your needs first; don't wish anything but to be a housewife; don't forget sex is to make babies, not pleasure; don't be unhappy with your man, no matter what he does to you; don't ask for help outside of your husband; don't discuss your personal problems outside the house; and don't change.

Other researchers have identified "five pillars" of Marianismo, or specific beliefs that "good women" must adhere to: famliismo; chastity; respeto; self-silencing; spiritual. Fischer wrote that marianismo and ambivalent sexism share similar traits, including giving women respect, high status, and protection if they conform to gendered expectations. Marianismo thus functions as both a risk and protective factor.

Biblical views[edit]

In Judaism and Christianity, the 31st and final chapter of the Book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, contain Eshet Ḥayil (Heb. אֵשֶׁת חַיִל), a 22-verse poem describing the attributes of a good wife or an ideal woman.[22] These verses (10–31) provide the definition of an "ideal woman"; one who is an industrious housewife, a shrewd businesswoman, an enterprising trader, a generous benefactor, and a wise teacher. This ideal woman is meant to describe a particular class of women in Israel, Persia, or in Hellenistic society. Verse 30 asserts that the key to the woman's industry, acumen, kindness and wisdom lies in her "fear of the LORD".

Ruth, from a parable in the Christian Bible, typically depicted as both strong-willed and feminine.[citation needed]


The tradwife aesthetic is criticized due to associations in the United States and Britain with the alt-right and white nationalism and critics often stipulate that tradwives embody what feminists describe as "toxic femininity", or, internalized sexism.[23][24][25][26] Critics claim this is a tactic used by male alt-right adherents to recruit more women to far-right causes.[6] In her 2019 book, Latter-Day Screens: Gender, Sexuality, and Mediated Mormonism, Brenda R. Weber uses the term toxic femininity to describe the need to conform to rigid female gender roles due to social pressure, reinforced through (sometimes unconscious) beliefs, such as viewing oneself as unworthy, and imperatives to be consistently pleasant, accommodating, and compliant. According to Weber, such beliefs and expectations "[suggest] there is no a priori female self" apart from the needs and desires of men and boys. Weber associates these norms with "usually white, mostly middle-class, relentlessly heterosexual, and typically politically conservative" expectations of femininity.[27]

In 2018, New York Times columnist Annie Kelly discussed parallels between tradwives and white supremacy and its urging of white women to reproduce more white infants (i.e., those of European-Germanic descent) due to a declining birthrate.[28] While declining birthrate is based on evidence from national censuses in specific western areas (e.g., United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom), academic Robert Pape has suggests that far-right exploitation of these demographics reinforces a long held conspiracy theory dubbed the "Great Replacement theory", also known as "White genocide".[29] José Pedro Zúquete noted that far-right extremists reinforce the Zionist Occupation Government, an antisemitic conspiracy theory, as a way to explain the white demographic decline in the United States as well.[30]

Katha Pollitt also linked anxiety over white demographic decline with white support for anti-abortion causes in her 2015 book, Pro.[31] Additionally, scholar Monica Toft claims that decades of white demographic decline, combined with a serious decline in public education standards, has led to unwarranted nostalgia and openness to conspiracy theories."[32]

Seyward Darby discussed the onset of the traditional wife aesthetic in her 2020 book, Sisters in Hate: American Women and White Extremism, depicted through interviews with women who call themselves traditional.[33] Darby depicts three women's personal views of the aesthetic, as well as providing observations and evidence of the interviewees' advocacy for tenants of the American political far-right, including white supremacy, antisemitism, populism and other ultraconservative beliefs. One of those interviewed in Darby's book is noted to have declared that her “primary duty is having children and supporting her husband."

While those who follow the tradwife aesthetic suggest that it is simply a rejection of feminism in favor of a return to the supposedly simpler times of the patriarchal family systems, one feminist notes that it is feminism which allows women to choose between housewifery or a career to begin with:[2][34]

"I say this knowing how lucky I am to be a housewife in 2015 as opposed to 1955. Would I be enjoying it so much without washing machines, dishwashers, supermarkets or disposable nappies? Definitely not. My love of the job has nothing to do with a nostalgia for a past in which, for a start, my lifestyle was inconceivable, and women were going silently mad in their impeccably dusted homes. I can enjoy being a homechief without a supply of Valium precisely because I know it doesn’t have to be forever."

Hephzibah Anderson, writing in Prospect, has described the tradwife aesthetic as a "fringe, but frankly creepy" development.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Malvern, Jack (25 Jan 2020). "'Tradwife' is there to serve". The Times. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Rob Brown (17 January 2020). "'Submitting to my husband like it's 1959': Why I became a #TradWife". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 January 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ... growing movement of women who promote ultra-traditional gender roles ... images of cooked dinners and freshly-baked cakes with captions ... A woman's place is in the home ... Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman ... particularly controversial because of its associations with the far right....
  3. ^ Norris, Sian (2023-05-31). "Frilly dresses and white supremacy: welcome to the weird, frightening world of 'trad wives'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  4. ^ a b Martha Cliff (June 9, 2021). "Canadian woman quits medical career to become a 'Tradwife': This Canadian woman spends all day at home cleaning and lets her husband 'lead' – insisting she is more happy as a result". Retrieved February 13, 2022. ....A woman who trained to be a doctor has revealed why she chucked it all in to become a homemaker. Former Miss Canada, Cynthia Loewen, had been set for a high-flying career in medicine but just a few years ago she decided to leave it all behind....
  5. ^ "Google Trends". Google Trends. Retrieved 2023-01-16.
  6. ^ a b Annie Kelly (June 1, 2018). "OPINION: The Housewives of White Supremacy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 22, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ...Enter the tradwives. Over the past few years, dozens of YouTube and social media accounts have sprung up showcasing soft-spoken young white women who extol the virtues of staying at home, submitting to male leadership and bearing lots of children — being "traditional wives." ...
  7. ^ a b AMY HUNT (January 24, 2020). "What is a 'tradwife' - and why is the idea proving so controversial? You may have heard of the terms housewife, stay-at-home mum, or the like. But why are 'tradwives' getting everyone talking?". Woman and Home magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ...A 'tradwife' (short for traditional wife) is a 21st century woman who has decided to embrace super traditional, conventional gender roles, by 'submitting' to their husband and not working, staying at home to do the typical household chores, and care for the children.... considering it actually has origins in far-right circles, predominantly in the US....
  8. ^ "'Tradwife' woman claims wives should submit to their husband and spend days cooking and cleaning: A mum has revealed that she left her high flying job to join the 'Tradwife' movement". Heart 96-107. January 22, 2020. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ...She added that she felt alienated growing up in the 90s, where attitudes to male and female roles were becoming more liberal, saying: "The culture at the time was anything but what I enjoyed and it definitely made me feel like an outsider. "It was all kind of, let's fight the boys and go out and be independent and break glass ceilings. But I just felt like I was born to be a mother and a wife. "What I really related to where the old shows of the 1950s and 60s."...
  9. ^ Simcha Fisher (December 3, 2019). "The types of women who veil at Mass". America magazine. Archived from the original on December 30, 2019. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ...Then came the tradwives, who veil with a vengeance. These young Catholic women are highly active on social media, and they gleefully tout their physical beauty as a poke in the eye of feminism. ... a woman's job to please her man with a fit body, on point makeup and lustrous hair that gleams as brightly as the lacy veil that covers it....
  10. ^ Sharon Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of a Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan, 1983, 22.
  11. ^ a b McLelland, Mark (January 2010). "Constructing the 'Modern Couple' in Occupied Japan". Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (23). ISSN 1440-9151.
  12. ^ Fujimura-Fanselow, Kumiko. "The Japanese Ideology of ‘Good Wives and Wise Mothers’: Trends in Contemporary Research." Gender and History 3.3 (1991): 345-349. 2 Apr 2007. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
  13. ^ Taylor, Rodney Leon (2005). The illustrated encyclopedia of Confucianism. Vol. 2: N-Z. Howard Y. F. Choy (1st ed.). New York: Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8239-4080-2. OCLC 52334760.
  14. ^ Liji "Jiao Te Sheng (The single victim at the border sacrifices)" 35.2, quote: "婦人,從人者也;幼從父兄,嫁從夫,夫死從子。"
  15. ^ Yili Zhushu (Etiquette and Ceremonial Annotated and Clarified) "Funeral Clothings - Zixia Commentaries" p. 92/266 quote: "婦人有三從之義無專用之道故未嫁從父既嫁從夫夫死從子"
  16. ^ Records of ritual matters by Dai the Elder (大戴禮記) "Destiny (本命)" 11 quote: "婦人,伏於人也。是故無專制之義,有三從之道──在家從父,適人從夫,夫死從子"
  17. ^ Biographies of Exemplary Women "Matronly Models - Mother of Meng Ke of Zou" 8 quote: "以言婦人無擅制之義,而有三從之道也。故年少則從乎父母,出嫁則從乎夫,夫死則從乎子,禮也。"
  18. ^ Liji "Hun Yi (The Meaning of the Marriage Ceremony)" 7 quote: "教以婦德、婦言、婦容、婦功。"
  19. ^ Zhouli "Heavenly Officers - Chief Officers" 131 quote: "九嬪:掌婦學之法,以教九御婦德、婦言、婦容、婦功" translation: "The nine concubines enforce regulations on women's learning, so as to teach the secondary concubines feminine conducts, feminine speeches, feminine comportments, and feminine works."
  20. ^ a b Ban Zhao, Lessons for Women, quoted in Book of Later Han "vol. 84: Biographies of Exemplary Women - Ban Zhao" quote: "女有四行,一曰婦德,二曰婦言,三曰婦容,四曰婦功。"
  21. ^ Knapp, Keith (2006). "Sancong side 三从四德 (Threefold obedience and four virtues)". In Yao, Xinzhong (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Confucianism. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315810751. ISBN 978-1-317-79349-6.
  22. ^ Proverbs 31:10–31:31
  23. ^ Hadley Freeman (January 20, 2020). "'Tradwives': the new trend for submissive women has a dark heart and history: A certain kind of housewife has found social media and is airing the details of their fight with feminism. But maybe they should tone it down a notch". The Guardian. Retrieved February 13, 2022. ...But this isn't actually about fighting the system: this is about women fighting against their own insecurities about their lives. ... it is very much part of the "alt-right" movement.
  24. ^ Rottenberg, Catherine; Orgad, Shani. "Tradwives: the women looking for a simpler past but grounded in the neoliberal present". The Conversation. The Conversation Trust (UK) Ltd. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  25. ^ ABC News, Bridget Judd, 23 February 2020, Tradwives have been labelled 'subservient', but these women reject suggestions they're oppressed Archived 2020-09-02 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved October 2, 2020, "...Others have likened it to an extension of white nationalism, propagating the belief that women should focus on their "natural" duties of childbearing and housekeeping..."
  26. ^ Sarah Jones, October 28, 2020, New York Magazine, Trump’s Base Isn’t Housewives, It’s Tradwives, Retrieved January 2, 2022, "...The tradwife is going to stick with Trump and the Republican Party. ..."
  27. ^ Weber, Brenda R. (2019). Latter-day Screens: Gender, Sexuality, and Mediated Mormonism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. pp. 202, 206–7. ISBN 978-1-4780-0529-2.
  28. ^ Stern, Alexandra Minna (2019-07-14). "Alt-right women and the "white baby challenge"". Salon. Retrieved 2023-01-14.
  29. ^ Robert A. Pape (6 January 2022). "The Jan. 6 Insurrectionists Aren't Who You Think They Are". Foreign Policy. These facts dovetail with a popular right-wing conspiracy theory called the "great replacement." ... that liberal leaders are deliberately engineering white demographic decline through immigration policy.
  30. ^ José Pedro Zúquete (2018). The Identitarians: The Movement against Globalism and Islam in Europe. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 978-0268104214.
  31. ^ Katha Pollitt (2015). Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. Picador. ISBN 978-1250072665. Anti-feminism, shaming of sexually active girls and single women, fears of white demographic decline and conservative views of marriage and sexuality, or outright misogyny.
  32. ^ Monica Toft (January 11, 2019). "White right? How demographics is changing US politics". Salon.
  33. ^ Darby, Seyward (2020). Sisters in hate : American women and white extremism (First ed.). New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-48778-8. OCLC 1238089281.
  34. ^ "I love being a housewife and that doesn't make me any less of a feminist | Chitra Ramaswamy". the Guardian. 2015-03-02. Retrieved 2023-01-14.
  35. ^ Hephzibah Anderson (December 9, 2019). "How feminism forgot motherhood—and why fathers don't mind". Prospect magazine. Archived from the original on December 26, 2019. Retrieved January 17, 2020. ...the fringe but frankly creepy "tradwife" movement....

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Tradwife at Wikimedia Commons