Tradwives and leisure

Published April 18, 2024

By Lib Campbell

The story of a new trend should have women who lived through the feminist revolution and the efforts of the ERA up in arms. If not in arms, at least paying attention. The editorial recounts the story of a young Harvard female undergraduate trolling MBA students “hoping to bag a more established male before her fiercest advantage – her youth – disappeared.”
Monica Hesse, Washington Post columnist writes that “some young women see patriarchy as a solution, not a problem.” Her thesis in the article Dream of Feminine Leisure is that young women who snag sugar daddies will be able to live a life of ease, as older, more established and wealthier husbands provide a level of security for them they have not had to provide for themselves. 
Part of the issue for these women is disappointment that even with the increasing opportunities women have earned in the last fifty years, equal distribution of work in the domestic sphere, like homemaking and childrearing, has rarely happened.
About 50 years ago, a commission on the status of women in North Carolina published a book “What’s a Woman Worth?” It gave statistical information on the costs of domestic work, if somebody had to pay for it. Added up, wives who did the household work of cleaning, child-rearing, and all the other things, were worth a fortune. Not to mention the intrinsic benefits of a stay-at-home mom. 
Ms. Hesse says her greatest alarm came from the last sentence in the young undergraduate’s essay. She wrote, “I am not doing this out of principle or based on a worldview. I’m doing this because life is hard, and this seemed easy.” The young gold-digger was seeking a life of leisure and ease. 
The term “Tradwife” refers to the traditional housewife, like June Cleaver portrayed. She was the little woman who minded and tended the children and the homestead, making sure dinner was on the table for the master of the house, along with his pipe and slippers. Oh, the good old days! This is Ken-land in actuality. Subservience, exploitation, and manipulation of women are hallmarks of patriarchy. One does not have to read much history to realize this. 
There are plenty of men who would like to keep the little woman in her place. They are passing laws now that show their hand. Regressive laws that take away rights of women will send them back to the kitchen and the laundry, just the way it ought to be. But keeping the man of the house does not ensure comfort or ease. 
The trend of the Tradwife is alarming to me. When women say right out loud, “take care of me; give me the life of ease,” they are deluding themselves about the experience of being the little wife who sits like Cinderella in the corner. Subservience ultimately fuels anger; at some point the mouse roars. 
Realizing our personhood and feeling affirmed for who we are and what we do is a human longing. Contribution to cultural discourse, in our work as teachers, nurses, doctors, professors, business leaders, not only gives us a place at the table, but the opportunity to make a difference in the world. All of us want to know we have made some kind of difference. It makes me a little sad to think about all the womanpower that may be lost to the world if this trend is widespread. 
Being home with children is a great blessing and privilege. But if anyone thinks motherhood is a life of ease, they have never had children. Parenting is a 24/7 job. Night and day mothers are on call. We meet with teachers, become room mothers, work in the PTA. We chaperone and bake cupcakes at the drop of a hat. We polish shoes and get out tangles. We stay up late on prom night, waiting for last one to come home. It is glorious, exhausting work. Thank-you’s begin to come around the Thanksgiving table when the children are about 30. 
I think the life of complete ease is a fantasy. Men die early deaths in their work life that takes a toll. They would like a little more ease. So would women who work outside the home, and often come home to cook dinner and help with homework. 
The Tradwife may escape some of the burden of supporting life, but what of her sense of self-worth and accomplishment? I hope the sugar daddies who support these women will show appropriate appreciation along with many shiny toys. 
Ease and happiness are hard to come by. Who’s got the answer for doing it right? 
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite She can be contacted at