With the determination to challenge gender stereotypes and fighting for women’s autonomy, can there be space for the traditional wife movement and the feminism movement to co-exist in the same space?
This is a response article to Feminism Is More than Just an Instagram Story
The trending TikTok video of traditional housewife Estee Williams with the caption “While the world continues to condemn traditional housewives, I’ll continue to live my truth” has gained over 10 billion views and there have been sparring comments from both traditional wife supporters and feminists alike. (For those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ll paste the link here for your viewing:
I first came across this video in my Gender and Organizational Leadership class where my professor asked the class of our opinions.
As a self-identifying feminist and a faith-based woman, I could understand the reasoning why Estee is promoting the traditional wife movement, per the verse of the woman practicing biblical submission to her husband (and while I have a lot to say on this, especially with the man submitting to the wife as well, that is for a different post). Yet, as a Black woman, I know that the traditional wife movement, especially back then in the 50’s, holds a certain type of privilege that only women like Estee hold. Simply put, for her as a white, blond-haired woman with pretty privilege on a platform like TikTok, Estee can afford to uphold this particular lifestyle. Not this isn’t to say that women of color like myself cannot become traditional wives if one so chooses to, but with the progression of women’s rights in the workplace, one can say that the traditional lifestyle isn’t sustainable long term. But that begs the question, can feminists and traditional wives co-exist in this society?
From historical times, the rise of feminism has always been prevalent. It pushes to dismantle patriarchal standards that perpetuate sexism in all aspects of life including education, employment, and more. On the other hand, the traditional wife movement centers on upholding traditional gender roles and encouraging women’s center time to be in the home, with great emphasis on marriage, motherhood and taking care of the home.
In my opinion, these two ideals are not fully concrete. For instance, as much I embrace feminism and the equality of women, I acknowledge that women can delve too much into their masculine energy if need be - leaving them to be tired, burnt out and frustrated. There are some things that are better to be left for the man to do. However, due to my cultural upbringing, it is important to not become fully fully dependent on the man, even in marriage. A woman is a separate entity with her own mind and not navigating a healthy view of this, can lead to a co-dependent relationship and in often times, intimate partner violence and other forms of toxic relationships. One can choose to embrace the traditional form of the housewife such as cooking and cleaning while also pursuing an education.
I do want to emphasize that there are toxic ideals to both sides. However, for the traditional wife movement, it must be said that young girls and women from all backgrounds can be easily influenced by this video and other creators they see on social media. By centering the woman’s role on things outside of herself, her self esteem is questioned.
So, I think that feminism and the traditional wife movement can coexist by emphasizing the education and career opportunities for women while they decide to take of the kids and educating young girls and women about their bodies and the importance of saying “no”.
While I think that there is much discourse between feminism and the traditional wife movement, I think there is a way for both to come to peace. But I think we have quite a long way to go before we get to that place.