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Meet the trad wives: the anti-feminist influencers calling for traditional values

Meet the trad wives: the anti-feminist influencers calling for traditional values

Posting about fashion, lifestyle or sports, there are influencers out there for every hobby under the sun.

You may be used to stumbling across the accounts of beautiful looking American women in impressive country houses. However, if you dig a little deeper you could discover that you have stumbled upon a trad wife - a woman advocating for a return to 1950s style gender norms.

"The trad wife movement is an international movement of women who advocate a return to traditional gender norms through submitting to their husbands and promoting domesticity,” Cécile Simmons, researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue tells Euronews Culture.

The origins of the movement

The movement emerged on social media platforms around six years ago, gaining popularity on Reddit, namely through an anti-feminist thread called 'Red Pill'. Trad wives then surfaced on other mainstream social media platforms like Instagram.

The trad wife movement encourages women to be submissive to their husbands
The trad wife movement encourages women to be submissive to their husbands - Canva

"Searches exploded during the pandemic. As with other forms of 'radicalisation' they flourished through people's sense of isolation," explains Simmons.

Hailing from the US, the trad wife movement crossed the Atlantic and quickly blossomed in the UK. Today it remains more popular in the Anglo-saxon world than in mainland Europe.

An ideological spectrum

There is an ideological spectrum within the tradwife movement, “trad wives tend to be conservative and anti-feminist, but this does not mean that they all belong to the far-right. The movement can act as an entry point for white nationalist and supremacist ideology,” says Simmons.

Trad wives call for "submissiveness" to their husbands, a cause for concern according to Simmons, "the danger is also that this could normalise abusive relationships".

Who are some of these trad wives?

One of the trad wife figure-heads is Estee Williams, a 26 year-old trad wife who lives with her husband in Virginia. In her feed of pictures and reels she can be seen wearing an array of A-line dresses with immaculately styled blonde hair. Though she has many fans in her 100k followers, her posts section also attract criticism, "so many women who have fought for equality, and this is what they achieve? What a shame", comments one user.

On the other side of the Atlantic lies Alena Kate Pettitt, a British trad wife who runs the 'Darling Academy' website. In her blog biography she outlines how her "exhausting adventures" working in London in her twenties led her to become a traditional housewife.

"My supposed “modern and empowering” choices had destroyed my self-esteem", she adds. Although Pettitt amassed a following of 40k followers on Instagram, she deleted her account, citing "the vile messages, the hatred" as well as "the unwanted attention from men." She remains active on her blog and other platforms.

And then there are the more extreme trad wives, with the likes of Ayla Stewart. Describing herself as "a former college-liberal who saw the light", Stewart is a Mormon. She may have far less followers than Estee Williams, but she stirred up a media frenzy a few years ago, with the 'white baby challenge’. In a now deleted video following a strong backlash, Stewart encouraged her followers to have as many white babies as possible.

They can use coded language

"On YouTube I have seen more political videos and politicised discourse, on Telegram they are also more bold in their assertions as there is lower content moderation", explains Simmons.

Trad wives may have the widest reach on Instagram, but they are also active across other social media platforms.

Different platforms, but also subtleties in language, "some trad wives are good at using coded-language and specific hashtags which creates a danger of a white nationalist ideology being used under the guise of a mainstream aesthetic", adds Simmons.

The business behind being a trad wife

There is a racial aspect to the trad wife movement - as they are for the most part white women - as well as an economic one. In order to live as a 1950s housewife, a household must be able to sustain itself on a single salary - a tough ask for many people given the global cost of living crisis.

The trad wife movement advocates a return to traditional gender norms
The trad wife movement advocates a return to traditional gender norms - Canva

Trad wives may promote a return to traditional values as stay at home wives - but the fact is that they can also make money and run business from their social media accounts.

"I have interacted with these trad wives and I was told I could be taught how to make money from home. There is an element of recruiting other people into this lifestyle by saying its a viable economic choice", explains Simmons.

The European tradwives

The trad wife movement is still very marginal in continental Europe.

"It's a nascent movement, it is starting to develop in France but accounts don’t have the same reach as American or British accounts. They have a few hundred followers for instance. But I do suspect that we could see some bigger accounts begin to emerge", explains Simmons.

In France, a rather unconventional 'trad wife' has been attracting attention: 24 year-old Thais d’Escufon. She is a former member of the banned far-right group Identité Génération.

Thais d'Escufon
Thais d'Escufon - TikTok

D'Escufon has reinvented herself as a social media figure promoting an anti-feminist message. However, the inconsistency lies in the fact that she does not have a husband - or children.

While d'Escufon is still young, Simmons explains that women who don't conform to the ideas they espouse can be isolated, “in order to fit into the traditional housewife movement, you need to get involved, if not you will be punished.”