The Trad Wife Is Having A Moment—But Here's What Our Culture Gets Wrong About Tradition
Over the last 12 months, the number of Google searches for the phrase “trad wife meaning” has increased 550%. In the month of March alone, the searches for “trad wife” doubled.
This is partly due to the trad wife meme that has been passed around on social media platforms in an attempt to bash feminism and illustrate how superior the traditional wife and mother is to the shrieking, blue-haired protestor who wants on-demand abortion and supports the “free the nipple” movement. This meme features a Wojak Comic variation of a serene-faced woman with natural blonde hair and a blue floral sundress. It originated on 4chan amid content related to conservative values, family, marriage, and tradition. It quickly picked up speed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (along with Yes Chad memes) and became an internet sensation.
But the viral trad wife meme only opened the door for the popularity of the real-life trad wife, who has gained millions and millions of clicks, views, and followers over the last couple of years. Take Ballerina Farm, the picture-perfect family of nine who lives on an idyllic farm in Utah. The children are blonde and seemingly well-mannered. The father herds cattle in a cowboy hat. And the mother is impossibly beautiful as she milks cows in overalls, loose braids, and zero makeup. Just last month, Hannah Neeleman, the matriarch of Ballerina Farm who raises seven children, posted a reel of herself making homemade lasagna from scratch. She labors in the kitchen to make mozzarella from raw milk, hand-crafted lasagna noodles, and decadent layers of meat (from the cattle on her farm, of course) in the cast iron skillet. All the while, her young children prance in and out of the kitchen, offering their tender helping hands here and there, and Hannah often carries her baby on her hip as she prepares this drool-worthy meal. She wears an apron and simple clothes, with a bare face and her hair loosely pulled back in a French braid. It’s the stuff of trad wife dreams—and it got 17 million views on Instagram. Just a week before that, she made “homemade mozzarella-topped meatballs paired with warm sourdough baguette,” and it gathered 78 million views. Her TikToks get millions and millions of views as well. A recent “farm style ravioli” compilation gained 42 million views and 4 million comments. It’s safe to say the trad wife is having a moment.
The Comeback of the Trad Wife
It’s no surprise that so many people are googling the meaning of trad wife and are so mesmerized by the idea of a beautiful, nurturing mother who cooks, cleans, and rears children—all the while looking naturally flawless. All it takes is one look around our culture to see that the average 25-year-old woman lacks basic domestic skills, serially dates multiple men, and loudly opposes manners and decorum. After all, the modern feminist movement has taught women that the louder and more ill-behaved they are, the better. Empowerment doesn’t come to meek girls who build a home for their husband and kids.
Almost a third of men under the age of 30 aren’t having sex.
Gen Z, the first social media generation, is less interested in marriage than any other generation before them. 83% of people born between 1928 and 1945 were married by the time they were 37 years old, but researchers predict that only 60% of Gen Z will be married by 40. Some 20-somethings may respond with a quip about how they’re having more sex than any generation before them, so why even bother getting married? They’re the generation of freedom and liberation, and marriage is just a sexless form of bondage that is full of bills and chores. Not quite how it’s working out, though. Recent data shows that almost a third of men under the age of 30 aren’t having sex at all. Turns out copious amounts of porn, video games, and dating apps isn’t the ticket to getting laid, let alone landing a meaningful relationship with a gorgeous, fertile woman.
Various pillars of the cultural zeitgeist reveal just how out of touch women are when it comes to dating and marriage. They demand that their future partner is over 6’2, rich, and the perfect gentleman, and yet they turn around and insist that men don’t judge them for their body count and addiction to weekend partying. Podcasts like “whatever” and “Fresh and Fit” show young American women from all walks of life talking about their dating conquests, search for the perfect sugar daddy, and general dislike for the nice guy who wants to settle down with a wife. Even worse, many of these podcast clips show that many of these women lack basic knowledge. In a “Fresh and Fit” clip, three women in a row were unable to name three countries outside the US.
At this point, you can’t really blame men for being disheartened by the options that are available to them. Modern society has produced such empty-headed yet entitled women that it would only make sense for men to fantasize about a competent, kind wife who will cook for him and raise children. This desire can only be understood in the context of the larger culture, which is seeing tradition make a bit of a comeback. Little moments here and there on social media, amongst celebrities, and on TV show that, at the very least, we’re seeing a countercultural movement that embraces traditional motherly and fatherly roles and celebrates the family unit. TikTok accounts like Ariel Tyson, Tennessee mother of seven children, and the Dougherty Dozen, a foster-adopt family of 14 in New York, have gained so much popularity and notoriety as of late, raking in millions of views, countless sponsorships, and much engagement from followers who simply cannot look away from the hustle and bustle of family life. Even the growing interest in celebrity families such as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, and Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher reveals that fans absolutely love seeing parents grow their brood.
Conservative influencers who often talk about family values and the importance of marriage are also gaining more and more traction online, such as Amanda Ensing, Candace Owens, and Brittany Aldean. These women aren’t only posting photos and videos of their day-to-day life; they’re selling products and hosting podcasts that are bringing in an increasing number of consumers who are yearning for something different than what the mainstream culture has offered them. Hence the popularity of the red pill. Many people, especially women, have been outspoken about their red pill moment: the pivotal point in their life when they realized that everything that was sold to them by society—feminism, working and thinking like a man, extreme independence, even birth control—was a complete lie. Not only are men more interested in finding a trad wife, but women are much more interested in becoming one.
The Nuclear Family Has Failed Us
The increasing interest in the role of tradition is certainly a net positive for our society, which is in desperate need of more happy marriages and secure families. But as perfect as the trad wife social media accounts and influencers appear on the surface, we have to ask ourselves what trad wife actually means, and whether it’s truly connected to the tradition of our ancestors. Today’s version of the trad wife includes a married woman who stays home while her husband slaves away outside the home at work all day. She cooks, cleans, makes a home out of a house, and she will eventually give birth to children and raise them herself. No daycare, no hired help, and definitely no office job to go to because she has a family to care for. Our modern version of the trad wife is a pillar of the nuclear family.
The nuclear family is a major talking point on the right.
The nuclear family is a major talking point on the right. You’ll see various pundits and podcast hosts praise the nuclear family and fervently argue that it must be protected at all costs. But what many people fail to realize is that the nuclear family is a fairly modern model of living that was only recently introduced to Western society as a result of industrialization. In the early years of America, it was quite unheard of to live as husband, wife, and children, alone and isolated from the rest of your extended family. In 1800, most American workers were farmers, and 90% of Americans lived with or at least very close to relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and servants and apprentices that weren’t blood-related, but were integral parts of the family economy. Children were not only raised by their mother, but also spent a significant amount of time with their extended relatives, working in the fields, and learning from many of the other trusted adults that were considered family (either by blood or by choice). Until 1850, about 75% of Americans above the age of 65 lived with their children and grandchildren. The concept of the nuclear family was virtually nonexistent up until fairly recently in history, and this is the case all over the world, not only in the U.S.
Everything started to change when young men and women started to chase the American dream in the burgeoning cities across the country. In the late 1800s, there was a mass exodus from the rural areas into urban life, and an unexpected result of this was that the average age of getting married actually lowered. From 1890 to 1960, the average age that men got married dropped 3.6 years and lowered 2.2 years for women. City life could be isolating, especially when you’re completely separated from your extended family, so marriage was a solution to spending your days alone.
The nuclear family was secured by the early 1900s, when the husband and father was the breadwinner and multigenerational living was largely replaced by a man and woman with their children. Data from 1960 shows that 77.5% of children were living with their married father and mother—without any extended family. And so the entire understanding of family was flipped on its head. What used to be the majority—multigenerational living—is now the small minority. The American dream of the white picket fence meant that grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. no longer lived under the same roof and didn’t even live on the same land or in the same neighborhood. Families were detached, fractured, and this became the norm. Just about everyone has to travel across state lines to see their family once a year for the Christmas holidays, while just a few generations ago, everyone ate family dinners together on a regular basis and the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” was lived out each and every day.
The trad wife cannot be fully understood without the context of true tradition.
When we speak of tradition, particularly in the context of the trad wife, we have to realize that the tradition was the multigenerational family. This was the foundation upon which marriage and child rearing were built. The trad wife cannot be fully understood without the context of true tradition—and that includes much, much more than the isolated nuclear family. Our modern take on the trad wife is taken completely out of context of what it means to be a traditional family unit, and with this breakage comes serious flaws in the trad wife movement.
Replacing Tradition with Trad Porn
Right-leaning individuals love to fantasize about the 1950s sliver in history when the nuclear family reigned supreme. The wife wore pearls and a flattering sundress as she vacuumed and prepared a pot roast for her husband, who spent the majority of his day grueling over paperwork and enduring tedious meetings. He arrives home to a pristine house and a warm meal waiting on the table for him. But the “Leave It to Beaver” and “I Love Lucy” housewife dream quickly started to feel like a fantasy as the economy continued to change and left a financial strain on many middle-class and working-class families that previously survived just fine on one income. Wages were cut in the 1970s, and we’ve seen multiple periods of high inflation since then. As much as our culture loved the nuclear family/perfect housewife model (so much so that it was the basis for most advertisements and marketing ploys during that time period), we saw it slipping farther and farther from our fingertips.
Today, the younger generation that holds conservative values loves to talk about the trad wife, as we knew her in the 1950s. Various conservative influencers and podcast hosts, from Daily Wire hosts to smaller content creators, constantly refer to the importance of returning to tradition and encourage young men to find themselves a trad wife. However, the trad wife they’re talking about is the one who holds down the nuclear family—not the traditional, multigenerational family that was successful for thousands of years.
So we have separated the traditional wife from the traditional family, while still expecting the wife to act in the same manner as she did when she was surrounded by a traditional family. This places women in a difficult position. Wives are expected to do it all at home—cook, clean, give birth, breastfeed, raise children, nurture the home, prepare the husband for his work day, and support his career. On their own, with no help. But this was never, ever the expectation of women in the past. Wives and mothers always had a support system of extended family and a village to help them with various tasks, such as educating the children or gathering and cooking food, and certain phases of motherhood that are particularly difficult, such as pregnancy and postpartum. Today’s version of the trad wife lives in a suburb, with hardly any family within a 50-mile radius, and is home alone all day by herself with the kids. After she gives birth, she has nobody helping her body heal or taking care of the older children while she nurses the newborn every two hours. It is quite unfair to expect a woman to be the traditional wife our ancestors used to be without giving her the family and support system that our ancestors always had. In the meantime, the average husband maintains a very similar lifestyle of providing that our ancestors did—he spends most of his day with other men, conversing, being social, and working outside the home, even if the details of his modern-day job are slightly different than what the agricultural career looked like 200 years ago. In some ways, you can completely understand why so many women are not interested in being stay-at-home wives and mothers, especially if they don’t come from a certain socioeconomic background. It can be a lonely, back-breaking existence.
So we have separated the traditional wife from the traditional family.
This is not an attack on the conservative men who want a trad wife; more men should desire that. But rather, it’s a criticism of the general Western American culture that has placed unrealistic expectations on a woman by misunderstanding what a trad wife actually is and her position within the traditional family. If a man wants a traditional wife, doesn’t he also need to be traditional? And that means providing a traditional environment and setting for his wife and children to thrive.
In our modern society, that of course is not possible for everyone. Not all families are able to live near extended family, let alone take extended family under their roof. And that’s okay. However, if the husband is not able to provide a traditional setting for his wife, he can’t expect her to take on every single responsibility of motherhood and homemaking on her own. She will need help, whether it’s a cleaner to help around the house, a sitter to help with the children, or a local school to help with educating the kids. There’s nothing wrong with insisting that a wife and mother belong in the home, but she needs to be given the proper tools in order to create a successful home for the family.
The right has successfully identified something that our society needs more than anything right now: a return to tradition. The only issue is, they have substituted true tradition with trad porn. The image of a lovely virgin prancing in the fields, plucking flowers for her betrothed. The silhouette of a beautiful pregnant mother in the backyard with two young children at her heels. The figure of a well-dressed wife preparing a home-cooked meal for her husband arriving home, wearing a suit with a briefcase in his hand. These memes and social media images have taken over the internet, particularly among right-wingers. But we have to really ask ourselves if we want to truly return to tradition, or if we want to just fantasize about the perfect trad wife who is both gorgeous and domestic.
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