This week, the BBC introduced people to the “tradwife” movement – “a growing movement of women who promote ultra-traditional gender roles”. The tone of the piece is warm and fluffy, and says that people who claim “tradwives” are connected with the far right are mistaken.
The BBC is very wrong on this. “Tradwife” is yet another example of neo-Nazi signifiers moving into the mainstream because organisations such as the BBC don’t do sufficient research.
This information is hardly difficult to find; for example, the New York Times covered the phenomenon in 2018.
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 â€” being â€œtraditional wives.â€ These accounts pepper their messages with scrapbook-style collections of 1950s advertising images showing glamorous mothers in lipstick and heels with happy families and beautiful, opulent homes. They give their videos titles like â€œFemale Nature and Advice for Young Ladies,â€ â€œHow I Homeschoolâ€ and â€œYou Might be a Millennial Housewife Ifâ€¦.â€
But running alongside what could be mistaken for a peculiar style of mommy-vlogging is a virulent strain of white nationalism.
Nicolette Michelle, writing on Medium:
By mobilizing sites like Twitter, the #tradwife, as they label themselves, are utilizing their social platforms to spread white nationalist ideologies, all under the domestic guise of be a perfect wife, and youâ€™ll live a perfect life, but as long as itâ€™s also a white life… their way of life and thinking is almost eerily cult-like, especially with their emphasis on preserving the European race and disdain towards anyone that is non-white.
TradwivesSeyward Darby, writing on Topic.com about the women activists in the far-right movement:
On her website, [Ayla] Stewart promotes #tradlifeâ€”traditionalist homemaking and white cultureâ€”and the â€œwhite baby challenge,â€ in which she encourages â€œwhite people to have children to combat demographic decline.â€
…Once in the fold, women are potent disseminators of racist ideology, palatable voices who provide the Far Right with a thin, dangerous veneer of feminine domesticity and normalcy.
As the NYT writer Annie Kelly noted two years ago:
Tradwives may seem like a lunatic fringe at present, but they may not stay one for long.
Especially not if organisations such as the BBC whitewash â€“ pun fully intended â€“ where the movement comes from.