1950s-style marriages: all the ‘rage’

“Hoards [sic] of women are calling for a return to 1950s marriages.”

Well, that’s what the Herald Sun tweeted earlier this week.

Suffice to say, the statement has been met with some, er, controversy. And not because the Herald Sun doesn’t know the correct use of the word ‘hoard’.

It’s talking of course about marriages where the husband comes first: when he’s handed a pair of slippers and a cold beer upon putting his briefcase down at the door and dinner is on the table at 6.30pm sharp.

The tweet followed stories about traditional wives, or ‘tradwives’ – yes, the topic is so hot it has its own abbreviation. Tradwives are women who “actively embrace subservience”. It’s being framed as a backlash against feminism. And, to help women who support the ‘movement’ show off their ‘housewifelieness’ online, it even has its own hashtag – #tradwife.

The face of this ‘movement’ is Alena Kate Pettitt from the UK who recently told the BBC that her role in marriage is to spoil her husband “like it’s 1959” but still have time to publish blogs, run a website and show the world how amazing a wife she is.

And though Ms Pettitt has her supporters, the movement has its share of detractors.

“‘Hoards [sic] of women are calling for return to 1950s-style marriages where ‘husbands always come 1st’ & dinner is on table by 6.30 every night,” says the Herald Sun.

‘Just b/c Scott Morrison & his anti-women government may want this, doesn’t make it true,’” tweeted one Twitter user.

“Even if this were true which I seriously doubt it is. What is stopping them? They are perfectly free to put their husbands first, wait on them hand & foot, turn a blind eye to the philandering etc. Has Bettina Arndt taken over the Editorial role at the Sun?” tweeted another.

“Conservatives wish the Stepford Wives was a documentary,” said another.

And there are some serious comments about the negative effects of such a movement.

“They have no idea of the labour market impact. Health and education sectors for a start would cease to function if large numbers of women withdrew from employment,” tweeted another user.

“Near 3 in 5 Australian women are still ‘concerned about the loss of traditional values’. That is a fair whack of women potentially holding other women back, and not supporting men to bloom in caring roles,” tweeted another.

The tweet has been called a cheap (or should we say cheep?) attempt to dredge up a feminist vs tradwives debate, but the feminists don’t seem to be having any of it.

“There is literally nothing stopping these women if that’s what they want to do. Thanks to feminism they get to choose,” said one social media user.

“As a feminist, if that’s what these women want, then they are free to do that. That doesn’t mean they get to dictate how the rest of us live our lives,” tweeted another.

According to Women’s Agenda:

“Rather than simply a backlash against feminism, the tradwife phenomenon needs to be understood as a symptom of – as well as a reaction to – the increasing insecurity of our times.

“Even relatively privileged women therefore find it difficult to live up to the popular feminist ideal of “work life balance”.

“And the reality is that only a certain proportion of two-parent families will ever be in a position to have one parent staying home to manage the household for an extended period of time.

“Not to disappoint the men who dream of returning to the 1950s, but could this growing micro-trend actually be just another way women are seeking to make their own choices?”

What do you think of this movement? Is it something you would like to see more of or will it set back women’s rights?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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