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The rise of stay-at-home girlfriends Young women are crushed by financial nihilism

'No thoughts, just vibes.' Credit: kendelkay/Instagram.

'No thoughts, just vibes.' Credit: kendelkay/Instagram.


November 21, 2023   5 mins

On a summer’s day, TikTok influencer Gwen The Milkmaid can be found frying up all-American comfort food dressed in a floral prairie dress. “I don’t want to be a boss babe. I want to be a frolicking mama. I want to spend my days baking bread, cuddling chickens, and drinking raw milk straight from the udder,” she writes in her TikTok caption. In another video, she smiles beatifically at her nearly 50,000 followers, giving the camera a view of her ample breasts as she bakes a fresh sourdough loaf.

Gwen is a self-proclaimed “trad-wife”, one of a number of women across TikTok, Instagram, and Reddit forums extolling a return to ultra-traditional gender roles and financial dependence on a male partner. Like the swinging dicks of WallStreetBets and crypto bros, the online trad-wife is an expression of 21st-century financial nihilism. Disillusioned by the girl-boss feminist fantasy, these young women are turning to men to pay off their loans and fund their lifestyles. And, why not? The good life isn’t coming any other way.

Growing up, Millennials and Gen Zs were sold a false promise of economic security and self-entrepreneurship. They were raised to believe that if they only worked and studied hard enough, success was in their futures; failure was a personal blight. Born between the mid-Eighties and early 2000s, their identities were shaped by the vacuum of post-Communist politics (I was sent, aged five, to a fancy-dress party styled, not as a Disney princess, but as the Berlin Wall). There was no sense that the future would be anything but Game Boys and capitalism.

It turned out not to be so easy. The speculation and excess of the Dot-com era, followed by the 2008 financial crash, undermined faith in the economic system, while the public investments in health, education and housing that Boomers enjoyed have been switched out for volatility and risk. Somewhere along the way, the dream of the good job and the good house was replaced by an acceptance that the good life could not worked for, or bought, or built. What began in general rumblings about why we can’t have it all progressed to a sense that maybe nothing matters anymore.

If some men respond to this creeping nihilism by staying in with the curtains drawn, YOLOing their rent money on Tupperware stock, some women are choosing to retreat to a time when things felt more secure: the Fifties. Today, women are not only expected to parent like they don’t have jobs, but to work like they don’t have children. Often, they are expected to do both of these things without the public resources (affordable childcare, healthcare, and education) or social supports (neighbours, family) that previous generations enjoyed. So really, is it any wonder that we just want to watch a woman bake sourdough? Trad-wife influencers embrace the lives second-wave feminists fought to leave behind — the role of the housewife, her routine, her wardrobe, but also, if the bimbo ethos of “no thoughts, just vibes” is to be believed, her lobotomised outlook on current events. Betty Friedan’s sedated housewife in the suburbs is no longer a cautionary tale; suddenly she’s a manual for survival.

Of course, it’s no longer necessary to be an actual wife or mother to retreat to the home: nowadays, you can be stay-at-home girlfriend. While the trad-wife’s job, steeped in post-war nostalgia, is to keep her home and family, the girlfriend’s main project is to keep herself: thin, young, and desirable. She is her main project and her job is, as Jia Tolentino has written, to “always be optimising”.

Take Kendel Kay for example, whose boyfriend Luke Lintz is the CEO of Highkey Enterprises LLC. “This is my typical day as a stay-at-home girlfriend,” Kay intones in her flat little voice to her more than 500,000 followers on TikTok, sounding more like an Alexa than a real woman. Every day is more or less the same: beginning with a sun salutation in athleisure followed by various forms of superior hydration, iced waters, green smoothies, and matcha teas. There are small household tasks sprinkled throughout the routine, inconsequential things such as refilling ice trays, lighting candles, and watering the couples’ two lotus flowers. The work of content creation aside, Kay’s job is her own self-care, from workouts to complicated probiotics meals and 12-step skincare regimens.

Kay is one of a number of stay-at-home girlfriends now active on TikTok. There is also the content creator Aliyah Wears, whose videos are filled with sample sales and fat-melting treatments. In one video, she asks her boyfriend “how much do I owe you?” at the end of dinner, while showing the camera her empty purse. “It’s ok, it’s on the house,” her boyfriend says, sliding out his card to pay. Then there’s Shera Seven, who dispenses caustic dating advice such as “make sure the second date is a money date, which means shopping, some kind of gift or spending a lot of money. The faster you get him to spend money, the faster you get him to attach to you. Sprinkle Sprinkle.”

There are tangible differences between the stay-at-home girlfriend and her older sister, the trad wife. While the trad-wife’s invisible breadwinner tends to have an honest profession that would be at home in a country music song — farmer, electrician, carpenter — the girlfriend’s partner usually has a lucrative career in tech or finance. And where the OG housewife, like her carpenter husband, can be seen to do real labour, such as laundry, childcare and vacuuming, the stay-at-home-girlfriend’s work is mostly vapor. Contrary to the Victorian mother and Fifties housewife who was “the angel in the house”, devoting herself to the needs of others, baking cakes that were perfect every time, and raising tomorrow’s workforce, Tolentino’s optimised woman is a trickier breed: she’s #thatgirl on TikTok whipping up kale smoothies, she’s the girl-online, the influencer.

While some women find Kay’s existence perplexing, many do not. Watching these videos in between school drop offs, work meetings, and cleaning up Lego is strangely soothing. I understand that I am being sold a lie, but I don’t want to think. I want to vibe. When having it all means doing it all, there’s an allure to doing almost nothing. “People used to ask me what’s your dream job,” Kay writes in one video caption. “I don’t dream of labour. I dream of living a soft, feminine life as a hot housewife. It’s as simple as that.”

Many people criticise trad-wives and stay-at-home girlfriends for setting feminism back decades. Despite what Gwen the Milkmaid would suggest, the Fifties wasn’t a golden age for women — if Betty Friedan (who actually lived through it) is to be believed, many real housewives got by on silent desperation and a permissive approach to benzodiazepines. For decades, women had to make do with care work, staying home, and a weekly allowance. And women the world over still do, not by choice, but by necessity. For this reason, many feel trad-wives are romanticising financial dependence, and maybe even financial abuse.

Of course, there’s nothing new about the hustle of a woman getting a man to spend money on her. The economic anthropologist Viviana Zelizer devoted whole books to the complicated  economy of “treating” between working-class women and their dates, where drinks, gifts, rent and down payments on goods functioned as de facto payments for sexual favours. So why does it feel like an old trope has been given an overhaul? Maybe it’s that, unlike their grandmothers, women today can choose to stay at home because they feel it’s better than any “real” job. Or perhaps it’s that #Askingmyboyfriendformoney and #Girlmath trends are part of a broader response to deteriorating economic conditions: rather than working harder to climb the career ladder, young people all over the world are simply giving up, lying flat, manifesting wealth.

As much as these women preach an easier, calmer life away from the grind, the #Tradwife or #SAHG is just the latest niche in the long trail of “girl online” content. This work is its own hustle and produces its own income. Gwen the Milkmaid, for example, has recently cast off an online presence as an adult content creator on Only Fans. And surely few people could be fooled by Kendel Kay’s half-hearted TikTok screed against girl-bossing as she shills for a green juice brand? It’s as if the response to financial nihilism is yet more nihilism.

It might seem as though in staying at home, young women are refusing to work, retreating into something calmer in the face of economic uncertainty. But the home and the family and the body of the woman herself has never really been a place to escape to. We might be drawn to these women and their lives and their bodies because we hate what late capitalism has done to our own — but the solution we’re being sold is simply more meaningless self-care, in a retinoid or a sourdough starter. No thoughts, just vibes.


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R M
R M
7 months ago

Trad-wife influencers embrace the lives second-wave feminists fought to leave behind

But it’s a facade isn’t it. I’ve never heard of Gwen the Milkmaid before this article, but what’s being described is someone whose job is an “influencer” with a brand which is heavy on mild titillation to a probably largely male audience. That’s why she’s launched on Only Fans to cash in.

She’s playing a role and is really no more a trad-wife than Daniel Craig is a British secret agent. In fact she’s exactly the sort of tech enabled self-entrepreneur which in her act she pretends she’s turned her back on.

Last edited 7 months ago by R M
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
7 months ago
Reply to  R M

Spot on

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  R M

I’d be really curious to know who does in fact watch this stuff.

R M
R M
7 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Compulsive masturbators.
I’m only half-joking about this. Pretty much any Tik-Tok-type content which features an attractive woman in some ostensibly innocent context (baking, trying on clothes, opening packages, doing yoga etc) is w**k-fodder for lonely men. Thus the “ample breasts” reference above.
The influencer M.O. is to use Tik-Tok to build a following then cash in on Only Fans and/or via endorsements.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  R M

Hmmm – I almost admire these men for the subtlety and nuance of their tastes. Do they hang around bakers getting off on the smell of new baked bread? Are they happy to get lost in IKEA? Do they go to yoga retreats to indulge their fetish? Sniff freshly laundered clothes?

R M
R M
7 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Well, I’m reaching the limits of my knowledge here, but it seems to me that for all the modern technology involved the content creators largely trade in archetypes which have long been common across pornography.

There is always an audience of men who are turned on by the fantasy of a beautiful subservient woman who prioritises his comfort. I would be willing to bet they make up a significant proportion of Gwen the Milkmaid’s fanbase.

Rob Mort
Rob Mort
5 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

I hang round the bakers at an expensive boutique baker in Byron bay ( Sunday sustainable ) and at the end of the day collect four bags of sensational bagguettes sour dough etc and feed them to my cows !

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Other ‘influencers’ and the journalists who write about them.

Kat L
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  R M

Dudes are not watching that when they can get onlyfans girls to do whatever they wish.

R M
R M
6 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

Only Fans costs money and comes with risk, e.g. credit card records discovered.
There has always been a market for free (or near-free) titillation alongside paid-for pornography and that hasn’t changed.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
6 months ago
Reply to  R M

My wife has stayed at home, homeschooled 4 kids….and is ‘trad’…but has a degree and had a much more glittering career than me. It’s a question of priorities. These are not trad wives…..they are post-modern grifters like Andrew Tate or that idiot who charts his ‘days as a woman’

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
7 months ago

If they have children and care for them, these girls are in for a huge shock. There’s nothing “soft and feminine” about looking after under-fives. It’s like running a bar and a zoo.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

“It’s like running a bar and a zoo.” Priceless! (A bar where the patrons poop all round, or a zoo where the small mammals act drunk?)

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
7 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

I used to describe my life as “baby-milk factory and 24-hour laundry.”
As the sage Jimmy Buffett said, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

This is what really irritates me about women – the unending hypocrisy and lack of consistency.

No, taking care of children is not a shock, and not like “running a bar and a zoo”.
I had zero experience of childcare. And yet, not only could I spend enormous time and energy on my daughter while also being the breadwinner and doing a challenging job – I found it enjoyable. Hard, but fun and worth doing, nothing has brought as much joy to my life as being with my daughter while being half dead of exhaustion.

And the problem is not that.

The problem is, while women complain about how awful childcare is, how they want “equal pay”, the horror of “unpaid labour”….
Those same women, with utter shamelessness, merrily take the part time job / homemaker route when they have a kid, expecting their husband to slog away paying for it all. Those same women cling on their kids as if they are their possessions when it comes to divorce, rather than share the “punishment” with fathers, even if those dad’s are desperate to fulfil their responsibility.

Disgusting.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

As to “Growing up, Millennials and Gen Zs were sold a false promise of economic security and self-entrepreneurship.”
complete nonsense. I was born in the 60s and grew up in the 70s and this promise was never made. It has for most people always been a struggle to find a job that paid the bills and left enough over to fund a reasonably comfortable life. Even when I entered the workforce in the early 80s it was clear that we were set on a path where it was only going to become harder and harder to raise a family on a single wage.
As to “Today, women are not only expected to parent like they don’t have jobs, but to work like they don’t have children”
what rubbish. Woman with children are consistently cut slack at work while their colleagues pick up the load. This indulgence is not asked for by or given to men that have children.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
7 months ago

.

Last edited 7 months ago by Sophie Duggan
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

Because there’s not so many of you and it hasn’t become the norm.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I do not think men would look to take advantage and as far as I am aware every child still has a father

Last edited 6 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

That divorce really left you bitter, eh?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 months ago

You forgot to call me incel….

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Goes without saying, kiddo!
And if we didn’t all already know exactly what you are, your primal scream of a post speaks absolute volumes about your mental and emotional condition.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago

Pot/kettle

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

So long as you don’t take the bitterness out on the kid.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

??

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago

As do yours.

McExpat M
McExpat M
6 months ago

I can’t imagine spending a second in your envy addled brain. What a bitter human you are. What a wasted existence.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

Exactly!

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
7 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Yes: there are women who rip the piss out of men in the divorce courts. Because the piss is ripped out of them from the minute they become mothers. Wouldn’t it be better if they *could* go out to work and keep the money they earn, so courts were *not* obliged to treat them as dependents?
If you truly believe that women could combine work and childcare if they just tried harder, I’m going to assume you also think that women should not become surgeons, or office workers, or drivers, or indeed work outside the home at all, Unless they decide never to have children. There are still some places where women are confined to the house, but thankfully I’ve never lived in them and hopefully never will.
And imagine: the court denies Mrs Gold-Digger’s petition for fifty per cent assets because there was a perfectly adequate day nursery available to her, and she could easily have worked. Win/win?

Last edited 7 months ago by Sophie Duggan
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

“Yes: there are women who rip the piss out of men in the divorce courts. Because the piss is ripped out of them from the minute they become mothers.”
So, you’re arguing that justice is synonymous with revenge? That the end can justify the means?

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Dependency results in dependency, and justice never gets a look-in.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

But revenge does?

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

If the courts are going to stop being a lever for revenge, someone needs to take away the lever. And the lever is: without maintenance, a stay-at-home parent faces destitution. Give the option of childcare, and revenge-by-lawyer vanishes. I like this version of the future.

Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

“Because the piss is ripped out of them from the minute they become mothers.” Really? In what way? Are you just angry at the role Mother Nature has given women? Is that the reason feminists are so angry all the time?

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Murphy

.

Last edited 6 months ago by Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Murphy

Nature made women mothers. Economics made them dependent on men. Feminism tried to undo the first condition instead of fixing the second. It set itself an impossible task, which is a pity, because making mothers financially independent is achievable – in Sweden, at least. Why not here?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

Okay, Sophie, using culture (in this case, law) to correct nature is universal. But let’s be consistent. Children are financial burdens to fathers, not only to mothers–and especially to divorced fathers. How about reforming laws to ensure that, among other things, fathers don’t end up forced to support the children of other men? Or taken to the cleaners by vengeful ex-wives?
But law reform cannot solve every problem without creating new ones. There’s a whole more to children and family life than economics. We need to create or restore a culture that truly values children as ends in themselves, not as means to the end of personal gratification, not as trophies in clashes between parents and not as wards of the state. What we need, in short, is a notion of marriage that discourages both divorce and single-parenting (which have always been exceptions, not norms). Apart from anything else, this would discourage the destitution of either parent.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

The people who need reaching here – the wives who use men for money, the husbands who use women for sex – aren’t going to respond to an injunction to behave better. But removing the incentive for women to exploit men in this way would be a good start. And that begins with the means to support themselves.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

Maybe so, Sophie, but Sweden is not utopia. Swedish men have a far higher rate of suicide, for instance, than Swedish women (which is also the case in English-speaking countries). Moreover, and perhaps more to the point, Sweden is failing to reproduce itself (which is also the case in every other Western country).
Also, as I say, some solutions create new problems. Making women (or men) “autonomous” helps some of them, those who would otherwise be destitute (although no one in Western countries is actually destitute), but doing so as a general policy, making it a social norm, hides the fact that our species (unlike some others) relies heavily on inter-dependence, not independence. What happens when men and women no longer need each other and marriage is reduced to a matter of transient emotional gratification for independent adults? And what happens to their children? Do we really want to undermine both the family and the community by fostering economically comfortable but psychologically isolated individuals?

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

As you say, people tend to be happiest when interdependent, equally in need of each other. When one person has all the money and the other has none though, there can be no equality. Hearkening back to a golden age of happy families is an act of fantasy. “Smash the patriarchy” is also a fantasy. Realism is the better way forward.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

“When one person has all the money and the other has none though, there can be no equality.”
This is like saying, when one person has all the ovaries and the other has none though, there can be no equality.
Equality is not, thank heavens, defined by money, but by respect, affection, self-sacrifice… you know, love.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

If you know of a place where people can obtain food, housing and heating in exchange for ovaries then go ahead & let us all know where it is. In the meantime, try doing without all three – or supplying domestic services (with benefits) on pain of losing all three – and then tell me what inequality is.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

Huh? I thought it was your premise that women exchange their ovaries for food housing and heating all over the place?
My premise is the opposite: that defining relationships between the sexes in terms of monetary exchange (or transactions for food housing and heating) is dehumanizing, terribly bad for men and women, and (not least) historically absurd.
This is like those silly gooses who think mothers love their children because they expect their children to care for them in their old age. It gets cause and effect backwards. Typically this mistake is driven by a fierce resistance to convention, a desire to prove one’s intellect through a rebellious attitude to the wisdom of those who gave us this world.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Essentially; you’re arguing that traditional marriage elevates both partners above material concerns; I’m arguing that as long as the only asset a women can sell is her sex appeal, she is wide open to abuse. Literally.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

A familiar sentiment: “As long as the only asset a prole can sell is his labor, he is wide open to abuse.” Yes, people do get abused… but to reap the rewards of love is simultaneously to take the risks of love!
Conceiving of an intimate relationship as essentially transactional is a terrible idea. It will doom most of them, all the while dehumanizing the participants – plus it demonstrates a disappointing apathy towards what people actually say they care about and how they act on those cares.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

What happens if your husband stops caring about you? Or, indeed, stops loving you? What reward do you “reap” then?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

What happens if your boss fires you? What happens if your job skills are outmoded by technology? It seems like we’re having two different conversations. Of course economic security is important, but the object and purpose of marriage is much deeper and wider than that (for both sexes).

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Communist states liked to point to their “happy” citizens as proof that, with enough benevolence and love on both sides, nobody needed freedom. Calling for freedom, they said, would endanger the higher values that everyone lived by, and reduce everything to money. But people struck out for freedom anyway, and the world moved on. How does your defence of marriage differ from the Communist defence of the state?

Last edited 6 months ago by Sophie Duggan
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

A central premise of the authoritarian Communist worldview is that social conditions must be analyzed in material/economic terms. My central premise in this conversation is that we should *not* analyze the social relationship of marriage in material/economic terms. But you want to lump us together? Huh?
The freedom that the dissident calls for is different than the freedom that the disgruntled spouse seeks… the freedom that the prisoner calls for… the freedom of a child who eludes his mother’s grasp to run across the street… the freedom of an employer to fire an employee… etc. etc.
All this demonstrates is that ‘freedom’ is a complex word with lots of different uses.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Communists thought that the state offered the only way to rise above never-ending material conflict, and live by higher ideals. Defenders of traditional marriage think likewise.

Bubbles burst though, and bills still need paying. After 20 years of domestic service, how would you suggest a battered or abandoned (sorry, disgruntled) ex-wife support herself and her children? Does the memory of love fill the fridge?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

No, the alimony does.
I don’t think “traditional marriage offers the only way to rise above never-ending material conflict.”
In fact, I don’t think there is any way to rise above never-ending material conflict. One of the reasons why I think human satisfaction is about a lot more than material conflict.
We seem to continue to talk past one another. But you definitely get full marks for keeping this conversation going.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Alimony pays the bills, but marriage to a wholly dependent woman is not transactional? We’re not talking past each other; you’ve managed to explode your own position.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

“A wholly dependent woman”? The man is wholly dependent, too… just not on his wife’s income.
The fact you think I’ve “exploded my own position” is the evidence that we are talking past one another.
We seem to disagree about the centrality of money to human life satisfaction. Another internet disagreement goes unresolved…. oh well!

McExpat M
McExpat M
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Great post.

Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

Motherhood is what made women dependent on men, because it’s not really possible to look after small children and work at the same time. But the dependence cuts both ways, making relationships between men and women symbiotic.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Murphy

Women, for most of the time humans have been around, worked all day collecting (and occasionally hunting) food. With children in tow, working alongside them. Men were far more dependent on them, for survival, than they were upon men. The coming of agriculture, and then of money, changed the way we work, and we are still struggling to adapt. As for women today? The freedom genie is out of the bottle. If you could make a way to ensure men remain fanciable into their late middle age, you might be able to sell the trad wife life. Until then, it’s an unpalatable deal for many.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
6 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

Actually, Sophie, men did depend heavily on other men (as well as on women). Their activities, not only hunting or fishing but also exploring the terrain and defending the community against animal or human predators, required them to make friends or at least allies and work together for the common good. (Before the advent of hunting and gathering, of course, our even more remote ancestors were scavengers.)
You paint a very bleak picture of the future, which would seem to revolve around materialism, hedonism and therefore also of cynicism. I’m very pessimistic, but even I suspect that both men and women have needs and desires that go well beyond money and sex. Otherwise, we might as well let the wokers do their work, unimpeded, of destroying not only our civilization but any civilization at all.

Sophie Duggan
Sophie Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

One desire that women and men both have is not to have to sleep with someone they don’t fancy in return for subsistence. I’ve never had to do it, but for plenty of women – especially after menopause – this is what marriage is. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is why it is broken. Fix this, and mutual respect begins. Leave it in ruins, and as you rightly observe, we’re ruined.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

You sound very bitter and not at all like the happy, self-sacrificing father.

James P
James P
6 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

You sound angry. And you have one kid.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Sophie Duggan

Exactly. It’s a fantasy view of reality. Though only one of a whole range which social media offers to women. All based around entitlement, money, status and all that is superficial, trivial and ultimately unreal.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
7 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes, David, what passes today for marriage (let alone work) is a fantasy–no, a materialistic or even hedonistic delusion.
Think of the wedding industry. It exists today as an industry, because more than a few people now spend fortunes on trendy venues (not necessarily churches), gowns and other clothes, lavish catering, liquor, professional photographers, musical performers, flowers, limos, “travel destinations” for honeymoons and so on. In other times and places, the focus was on marriage. That word referred to a sacred union with spiritual and communal functions, notably the duty of bringing up children to become responsible adults within the larger world. But even weddings were once more meaningful than ostentatious parties. These ceremonies were, in most cases, rites of passage. In short, marriage was mainly about family and community, not mainly about individuals.
Now think of current “reality” shows such as The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and so on. Although the final episodes usually feature elaborate weddings, earlier episodes do focus on courtship and marriage. But their implicit definition of “marriage” would have been almost unrecognizable in earlier times (or in traditional communities even today). It’s now all about “chemistry” and sentiment, both of which amount to less than materialism or the division of labor. In other words, it’s all about transient feelings and personal gratification whether at home or at an office.
You can follow the evolution–that is, the devolution–of marriage in our own society (apart from religious communities) simply by watching its movies and TV shows or listening to its popular music.
My goal here is to provide a larger context for this debate about new variants of marriage or about new notions of women and work. The universal paradigm of relations between men and women has always been marriage; every other arrangement must be measured against that. But marriage, for many people, has within two or three generations turned into something else. And I suggest that no government sponsored social engineering, certainly not on its own, can either revive what it was or replace it with something better. Yes, we have economic problems that government policies might solve or at least remediate–but not to the extent of making the lives of either women or men meaningful and therefore fulfilling.

Last edited 7 months ago by Paul Nathanson
Aidan A
Aidan A
7 months ago

Women mooching off their boyfriends, expecting dinners, gifts, travel, etc. I am shocked. This must be new 🙂

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
7 months ago
Reply to  Aidan A

It used to be called Mistress. Except the traditional mistress was kept in a nice apartment. I wonder if these ladies are. If you’re going to give your body away to a man without benefit of marriage, make him pay for it!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

The only trouble with that, is there’s some men stupid (or desperate) enough to do it.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend; a kiss may be grand but it won’t pay the rental . . .

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
7 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

Jesus wept. Let’s just move on to babies via incubation and cut the human out of it, and then we can stop finally taking about all of this shit.

Geoff W
Geoff W
7 months ago
Reply to  Aidan A

Indeed. The only new bit is that they expect other people to be interested in them.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  Aidan A

I recall a clever point made by Brendan Burns (90s standup comic) that we would not reach genuine gender equality until the day a kept man can answer without embarrassment the question “what do you do” by saying “boyfriend”.

We’re still waiting, and it’s no closer than it ever was.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I wouldn’t be embarrassed to say that. Lots of the young professional men I know would love to be demoted to “boyfriend”. Just cooking and cleaning, looking after the kids and playing xbox in your pants while they’re at school.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Maybe it’s just me, then. I certainly would be too embarassed to say that, let alone actually be that.

To be specific, I’m referring just to the status of boyfriend as a job. You mentioned kids, which implies a homemaker role in a serious long term relationship and in which important responsibilities are shared. That’s very different and would not be relevant to the previous point I was making.

Last edited 6 months ago by John Riordan
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

But they know they would be traded in within 5 minutes for a man

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Aidan A

From what I’ve heard, this is far worse in the States than in the U.K. Asking a woman on a coffee date (bloody good sense all round with someone you don’t know) is now seen as the last word in cheapness.

William Shaw
William Shaw
6 months ago
Reply to  Aidan A

“drinks, gifts, rent and down payments on goods functioned as de facto payments for sexual favour”
An honest description of the male/female relationship.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago

Oh good grief, how depressing. And yet…I get it.
My friends and I are slightly older than the women in this article (we were born in the late 70s/early 80s) but I notice a clear pattern among us when we get together and talk about work.
Most of my friends are child-free. Some are in relationships but all are unmarried. None of us are financially dependent on a man and would sooner bite off our own fingers than live off our boyfriend’s cash long-term.
However: our view of work and career has totally transformed. Whereas 10 years ago, we might still have believed in this idea of climbing the career ladder as we’d been told to as young people, believing we were going to smash glass ceilings everywhere and have the deal our parents had (i.e. being able to own property), now we’ve all just let that go a bit.
These days, what I often hear (and what I think myself) are things like:
I don’t care about having a “dream” job – or even “loving” what I do. I just have to find the work halfway interesting and not hate it.I do not give a monkey’s about smashing any glass ceilings, or climbing the corporate ladder or standing on any kind of feminist soap box in the workplace. It’s BS, it’s exhausting, and mostly to no avail. Let’s leave all that jazz to Gen Z ladies to deal with…if they’re even bothered about that kind of thing now. No longer my concern. Bye bye.I cannot afford my own place, so it’s not even worth thinking about earning enough money to buy property anymore.I do not aspire to own a wardrobe full of expensive clothes, handbags and shoes. I do not want a car. I just want to do something which gives me enough money to lead the life I want (mostly quite modest).
What I’m definitely not hearing is ambition or drive. I’m not sure if this is all unbearably sad and a symptom of deteriorating economic conditions or whether it’s just the realism (and lack of energy) that comes with age.

Last edited 7 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

There were some bullet points in this to order my thoughts but somehow numbers/bulletpoints disappear when you post. Why provide the function if it doesn’t work???

Matt M
Matt M
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It is very frustrating.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Oddly, I can get it to work, then it disappears when I refresh.

Last edited 7 months ago by David Morley
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It was always thus and always will be for both sexes except for a a very select few

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

However: our view of work and career has totally transformed. Whereas 10 years ago, we might still have believed in this idea of climbing the career ladder as we’d been told to as young people, believing we were going to smash glass ceilings everywhere and have the deal our parents had (i.e. being able to own property), now we’ve all just let that go a bit.
It’s nice to see that women have finally become equal to men: they’ve finally realized that work sucks.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

And the attractive ones still can, and often do opt out and do just as the young lady in the article has seemingly done. The smarter ones save and plan for when the beauty fades, and the less smart ones, well… I’m reminded of an old Eagles song. “City girls just seem to find out early, how to open doors with just a smile.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

The uptick was for The Eagles reference. 🙂

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Were you ever seeing drive though, or when you were younger were you just hearing it?
My experience has been that women are not normally ambitious or driven. The you-go-girl types that like to whoop and holler loudly about their ambition aren’t either. They like to pretend they are, but are they putting crazy hours into the office, taking career risks, arguing in meetings for their position or dragging themselves to the cutting edge of a field and then advancing it? Almost always, the answer is no. Instead they complain and demand to get the rewards of doing those things, without actually needing to do them.
I’ve been reflecting on a lot of these things in the past few years. I found my own views getting more “trad” with time, largely due to the constant stream of women I’ve ended up helping through various crises, who were very visibly struggling with the basics of the workplace and business. Friends and ex-girlfriends mostly. Now my wife. She does work hard, but she isn’t ambitious or driven. The height of her ambition is to work on her own as a masseuse, something I’m helping her achieve by building up her independent business. I love her dearly but it’s very noticeable how little she plans ahead or thinks about what she wants in life overall. She doesn’t have any kind of plan for how to grow her business (which she needs to do as she gets unhappy when there’s not enough customers), and despite prodding doesn’t seem able to develop one, so I have to do all that for her. It isn’t stupidity, she’s extremely smart, funny and well read. It’s something else – she somehow just doesn’t like to think about it. None of her friends plan ahead either. Some of them get by on their looks for now, but what will they do when they get older and their looks fade? They never seem to know.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It may be because you are on your own, it is certainly exponentially more difficult in most areas of life be content without a partner.

John Riordan
John Riordan
6 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

What you describe in terms of workplace ambitions I suspect has always been true. When you’re younger you dream of making a difference, and as you get older – and wiser – you realise that just turning up for forty years and doing your job is already hard enough and is in fact already making a difference, just not the way you thought.

The part where people with stable incomes can’t afford a house? That’s new, it’s bad, and if it’s not fixed quickly it’s going to cause ructions in the near future.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
7 months ago

Not seen either of these women but wasn’t feminism about women making their own choices? It sounds like these two are. It has only morphed into “girl-boss”, “I can do everything better than a man” type feminism over the past couple of decades. Thatcher was seen as a complete one-off during her time in office which is why a lot of people voted for her.

This is the second article on this subject and the first one criticised the trad-wife in that of having opinions and spreading them effectively. You can’t have it both ways.

The personal attacks: “flat little voice” (flat is fine, little is not), “bimbo” happened in the other article as well. The belittling of motherhood and housework is classic communist claptrap – women will be free when they are working all day for the betterment of the state. Capitalism gives women more of a choice of what to do and they can do it to improve their own lot. If you are a drone in a PRC factory do you think it matters if you are male or female? Of course not. Can you leave your job? Of course not. Can you agitate for higher wages/more rights/safer working conditions? You get the picture.

There no such thing as “late stage” capitalism other than in marxist textbooks. Having the other half of the population in the workforce makes a high wage economy impossible (in terms of one earner being able to support a family). The writer doesn’t see the contradiction here. If more people (men and women) opted out of the economy in one way or another then wages would rise for those left.

Last edited 7 months ago by Milton Gibbon
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
7 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I have found this whole argument from its earliest, is based on upper/middle class lives. The woman’s right to work! Poor women have always worked – to today’s woman’s right not to work and be a kept woman. Is this even affordable if your partner is a delivery driver or order picker? One wage keeping a family a float is very difficult and completely overlooked.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Yes and this has long been the marxist take. Feminists for an entire century have been privileged women seeking equal access to the privileged world their brothers and male peers enjoy.
A minimum wage job is exploitative whether male or female.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

But often all the employee is worth

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

The federal minimum wage is $7.25, which is what the southern states pay workers. Any worker is worth more than that. No one can support themselves on pay that low. For God’s sake, let them have some dignity.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Why are they “worth more than that”? Where do you get your certainty from? If they’re actually worth more than that then a competing employer will bid their services away from the existing employer. But they’re not, so they don’t. That’s just basic economics.

Whether or not someone can support themselves on minimum wage is a completely separate argument and totally irrelevant to their worth.

Why the state, or anyone else for that matter, thinks it knows better about individual economic circumstances than those individuals entering into the transaction is a mystery to me. Worse is the fact it pays no price for being wrong.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  P N

You’ve been watching too much Ben Shapiro!

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

That’s not a counter argument.

You haven’t been doing enough reading Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

Actually I have. Ben Shapiro too. But I approach them with a critical eye.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

An eye so critical that you can’t mount a counter argument.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago
Reply to  P N

You guys are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Anybody making minimum wage or close to it will probably be replaced by automation within the next two decades. The debate now is how we deal with a situation where there literally isn’t enough work done by actual human beings to sustain a middle class in a capitalist system, because that’s where we’re headed, and fast.

Last edited 7 months ago by Steve Jolly
P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

They said the same thing when tractors replaced farmers and washing machines replaced washer women.

Paying someone £15 an hour doesn’t make their labour worth £15 per hour.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

But it’s a living wage, just.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

So what? Whether a person can live on £15 an hour has no impact on a business’s ability to pay someone £15 per hour.
Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labour force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
7 months ago
Reply to  P N

Perhaps re-read The Grapes of Wrath?

Workers’ wages depend on far more than the worth of their work. Supply and Demand set wages, constrained by a minimum wage. If someone is doing a valuable job, they should be paid a wage they can survive on.

I believe in a free market. I don’t think that being on state benefits or supplements is good for a person’s dignity. But I do think that if you employ someone, you should ensure you pay them enough to live on.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

Exactly.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Exactly wrong I’m afraid.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

Higher minimum wage lead to more unemployment and state benefits. Not only is that bad for a person’s dignity but people also lose vital experience in the work place. Entry level jobs, where very low wages are paid, should not be seen as enough to live on and support a family over the long term. They should be seen as an opportunity to gain experience and skills. if you remove these entry level jobs because you think you know better then you are denying this opportunity to young people.
If Mrs Miggins is willing to pay £10 an hour to Joe Bloggs and Joe Bloggs is willing to accept it, who are you to prevent this economic transaction taking place? Mrs Miggins might not be able to afford £12 per hour or would prefer to do the work herself at that price. The result of your intervention is that Joe Bloggs does not get the work and the economic transaction does not take place.
Joe Blogg’s economic circumstances are not the responsibility of Mrs Miggins. When you go to a shop and see something you want to buy at a price you’re happy to pay, do you think you should instead pay a higher price on the basis that a shop can’t sustain itself selling at those prices?
Taking the Grapes of Wrath example, the family move west hoping for work but the mass movement of people drives down wages in California. The family has to work at wages that do not lift it out of poverty. However, if California had a minimum wage they would not have found any work at all. The farmers could not have employed all those people at higher wages. Absent a welfare state or charity, they would have starved to death within days. This is a lesson about migration causing wages to fall more than it is an argument in favour of minimum wages.

Last edited 6 months ago by P N
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

The minimum wage in Australia Is $15 and that applies to wait staff, so you don’t have to tip in a restaurant if you don’t want to. I’ve never understood why the public should pay their wages instead of the restaurant owners,

Last edited 6 months ago by Clare Knight
P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

The public? Do you mean the customers? The customers do pay the wages of the staff. If it is paid as a salary then it flows through the restaurant and its PAYE system. If it is paid as tips then it goes straight to the employee. The source is the same. Where else do you think the money comes from if not the customers?
If a restaurant was forced to pay its staff more than their productivity is worth then it will go out of business and there will be no jobs for the staff. The real minimum wage is therefore zero.
Not only is this bad for the individual waiting staff at the time but spread across the economy as a whole you end up with a whole cohort of (mostly) young people not getting the entry level jobs they need to build up skills and qualifications.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

My uptick made it go to zero.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I am in the UK

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Spot on.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

100% wrong.

Kat L
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

They’re not supposed to be permanent careers, it’s to get your foot into the world and start moving up. It’s called paying your dues.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

If a person isn’t educated or intelligent enough to move up they’re stuck in a low-level job, but it shouldn’t mean low paying, forever.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Where does this extra money come from to pay someone more than their productivity demands?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Interesting take. I’ve always thought the basic flaw of Marxism was that it failed to truly offer an alternative to capitalism. It criticized capitalism on the surface but kept capitalism’s inherent materialism, its emphasis on the primacy of economic forces, and it’s focus on production. Really they are adjacent branches on the same tree of western empiricist political philosophy. They both make assumptions based on industrial levels of technology. Above all, they agree on the primacy of labor as the driving force behind economic and social productivity.
Marx knew this, and viewed capitalism as an in-between state between hierarchical feudalism and true egalitarian collectivism, i.e. socialism. The primacy of land as an economic driver dictated a hierarchical system, feudalism, because land is inherently fixed, but during the industrial revolution, labor displaced land as the driving force of economic production, and labor is not fixed, and at the time, the resources of the planet were vast enough compared to the population that this was not seen as being fixed on any meaningful scale.
The advent of automation and AI will ultimately, I believe, completely overturn both systems, because it will abrogate the basic condition. Labor will no longer be the most important factor determining production within a society. The determining factors going forward are likely to be technology, natural resources, and above all else, energy. What social economic and political system will enable us to thrive in an energy economy? I don’t have a good answer and I don’t know that anyone else does either, but we’d best get on with figuring it out.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

That’s why Russia and China are such fervent supporters of Net Zero… for the West.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Why is capitalism based on industrial levels of technologies? It sprung up well before the industrial revolution (whenever you want to say that was). Is land static? Look at the Netherlands, Venice, Bangladesh. Even the communist disaster of the Aral Sea was seen for many years as a triumph of man over nature (acres more land to farm).

Why do we need new economic systems? The planned economies of the world have failed (which is why people head to the West) or are going to fail (China). Better to have a broad spread of economic dynamism than the government picking winners and losers (especially based upon voters’ preferences). My worry about AI is homogeneity. One world government could now be feasible, it just won’t be humans running it.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

You make a fair counterpoint. Theory is one thing, application another, and in this respect, it can hardly be argued that communism has failed completely in terms of actual results in the real world. I was speaking of the theoretical flaws of socialism, not the probably insurmountable practical problems with implementing a socialist system.

The problem I see with both systems is that with AI and increasing levels of automation, we will have productivity with very little labor involved to the point where labor is not a meaningful economic driver. Feudalism worked because people were bound to the land they farmed and that kept society fed, and the hierarchy of nobility was responsible for war and keeping society protected. Capitalism works because people labor to make wages, produce goods, and consume goods. It works because labor is the critical input. It is the primary driver of cost, productive capacity, and ultimately consumption, but what if that wasn’t the case.

What if labor were not the critical input to productive capacity? What if energy prices or technology levels were determinant. The globalist world was a world in which labor was the driving force. Labor is people, and people resist control, so free flowing goods and open borders creates efficiency and makes the system work. Labor is basically an unconstrained resource over the long term. As long as population increases, so will production, and until very recently population increase can be safely assumed. An economy driven by technology and energy however, will come with an entirely different set of incentives. Technology can be kept and guarded, and energy is tied to land and natural resources, so again, people and nations are incentivized to develop and closely guard their own thereby profiting and gaining political influence by carefully choosing who to share it with. We see this already with sanctions against Russia over Ukraine creating a dependency where Europe needs the US. The Biden administration, which I believe is run from the Pentagon, has doubled down on tech sanctions against China to preserve technological advantage. A focus on energy production, through whatever means, is an investment in the nation, because energy will increasingly determine economic success. I believe the energy/tech economy that replaces the industrial economy will be a neo-mercantilist venture where nations are highly competitive rather than cooperative. Something more like Europe from the 14th-18th century.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“Capitalism is not an ‘ism.’ It is closer to being the opposite of an ‘ism,’ because it is simply the freedom of ordinary people to make whatever economic transactions they can mutually agree to”.” – Thomas Sowell
Absent an authoritarian or totalitarian government, capitalism is not going away.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Exactly!

Kat L
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Exactly right. I grew up in the 70’s, in the early years mothers stayed home and were communal in rearing the neighborhood children. By the end of the decade the new fad was to go to work and/or get divorced and thus the latchkey kid was created.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Kat L

I wonder where you lived that had communal, neighborhood child-rearing?

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago

I reckon it costs a man several thousand pounds a month to keep a woman like this. That means that only about 1% of men can actually afford it (and most of them will be married or gay), meaning that far less than 1% of women can actually find the opportunity to be kept this way, so whatever this article describes cannot be really a trend, as such.

I don’t doubt what it describes is happening to an extent, but if anything the bigger thing is what younger people who can’t afford this luxury are doing in response to the failure of rising prosperity, which the article above references but doesn’t examine.

The final point has to be that no matter how much self care, green juices and yoga she does, if she doesn’t get married before 30 she’ll either have to get a proper job or settle for much less. That essential truth about life hasn’t changed.

Last edited 7 months ago by John Riordan
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

That’s sort of the point of the whole affair, isn’t it? If everyone did it and it was normal, no one would pay to watch her.

Daniel P
Daniel P
7 months ago

Well, I get the authors point. I do. BUT…on the other hand, work sucks. It’s not like you have a lot of happy choices here. You kill yourself dragging yourself to do a job for decades. If your lucky you get a good vacation every couple of years. Work/Life balance is bullshit for the most part. The only time we have had that was during the Covid lockdowns and the aholes in charge are working hard to beat us all back into submission and make us forget what it was like to realize that work was not the be all and end all of an existence.
Let’s face it, women have woken up to what men always knew, work is something you have to do to survive, not something that is fulfilling. Ok…maybe occasionally it is fulfilling in some way but not often enough. Private equity made sure of that.
I do not blame these women one bit. I totally get why they want to walk away from the stupid corporate games that suck out your soul.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Sure – but you must feel a little bitter that this option isn’t also available to most men.

P N
P N
7 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Private equity made sure of that? What? Bizarre comment.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Well said.

R Wright
R Wright
7 months ago

If you’re unmarried you’re not a tradwife, just a concubine.

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
7 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Nobody’s married any more. Have you read the contract?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago

Women were hoodwinked into thinking that men worked for fun or to ‘pursue a career’ and so wanted in on the action.

Daniel P
Daniel P
7 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Not wrong.

I was at a conference about a year ago in NJ. Bunch of Wall Street types.

One of the speakers, a man, was adamant that we had to get women back into the workforce after Covid or wages would keep rising to “unaffordable levels”. Meaning of course that they need them back to keep wages down and profits up.

Kat L
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Also reference Janet Yellens inference that abortion is good for the economy.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

“I was at a conference about a year ago in NJ. Bunch of Wall Street types”
No you weren’t.

Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy
6 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

So true. That’s why I find this nonsense about having more women in management roles so bloody tedious. Why can’t anyone accept that many women simply don’t want these kind of jobs?

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
7 months ago

If you are a ‘tradwife’ presumably you are doing all the things that your husband would have to do or he/you both would have to pay someone else to do if he was single or you were both married. Shopping for food and/or growing food. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc etc other janitorial work. If you need a workman to come over to paint, fix a problem you can’t, she is there to let them and oversee things so he doesn’t have to take time off work. Presumably she prepares and cooks dinner. If children are involved, well, you aren’t spending money on daycare when they are younger. She is presumably driving them to and from extracurricular stuff, fetching them from the bus, making sure at least she attends teacher meetings, school plays and so and so forth. That is a 24 hours a day 7 days a week job.
Feminism morphed from ‘woman need the right to have the vote and legal rights to their own property and bodies’ to ‘women must work in a paying job in order to be fulfilled’. This neglects two basic things: firstly, most men work because they need money to afford goods and services and secondly, being a mother or housewife is in itself a job and your wife isn’t doing it you need to pay someone else or take on those roles yourself.
The denigration of feminine roles has led to a decline in marriage and a rise in single parenthood, which in turn has led to a mass of unhappy and underproductive children. Children are better off in a household with married parents (yes, there are exceptions to this). not only that, but the increase of competition within the workforce keeps wages down. It increases pressure on housing as families need a home for mom and a home for dad, both with at least a extra bedroom for the kids.
One other issue is this idea that traditional women’s work is not valued, so we have very poor rates of pay for the caring professions. By that I mean, daycare workers, preschool workers, home health aides who attend to the disabled and the elderly. Anything that smacks of felinity but is not related to titillation is poorly remunerated.
And as for the stay-at-home-girlfriend. Well, she is basically an escort with only one client. It’s a precarious position for her. But, you bet, if she was an escort with multiple clients we’d be hearing ‘sex work is work’.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Some good points – but I think you are confusing real stay at home mum, with the fake influencer version.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
7 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

In way, feminism is extremely sexist as it defines success in terms of traditionally male success whilst devaluing traditionally female roles.

Last edited 7 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

So true.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

I like “anything that smacks of felinity but is not related to titillation is poorly remunerated”. So true, and it has a certain rhythm to it like it’s a line from a song.

edmond van ammers
edmond van ammers
7 months ago

Seems very much like the calm and attractive wives who populate the affluent suburbs I’ve grown up and lived in, with high earning professional husbands relying on their partner’s social skills. Their role is to maintain their own beauty, beautify the home, plan holidays and the social life, while using nannies to do the hard work with the under 5’s.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
7 months ago

Division of Labor – it works.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

Yup. Though you forgot the endless meet ups for coffee and goss. Or is that covered by “social skills”?

Michael Daniele
Michael Daniele
7 months ago

Often, they are expected to do both of these things without the public resources (affordable childcare, healthcare, and education) or social supports (neighbours, family) that previous generations enjoyed.
Utter nonsense. There has never been more corporate support for women in the workplace. The author should talk to a woman who actually worked and had small children in the 80s or 90s.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

True. I don’t know where this idea came from that two generations back everybody lived in paradise. Not so long ago talk of work/life balance would have you labelled as lazy. Feminists mocked the idea that menstruation or menopause affected women’s performance at work. Now allowance has to be made.

Not saying this is bad BTW. Just that the idea that everything used to be so much better is a myth.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Ah yes, the good old days!

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
7 months ago

Kendel Kay and Luke Lintz? Even the names sound phoney.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

And their children, Mason Murray and Nicole Nielsen.

H H
H H
7 months ago

The author would do better to read the works of Mary Harrington or Louise Perry rather than relying on the online influencer content to which she refers in her article. She appears to understand very little about the mindset of the woman who prioritizes family and home over career. The so called “tradwives” are often women who, having given birth, realize that they’ve just done something bloody amazing. They’ve made a human being! Why would they want to merely gestate the baby and then hand him or her over? The mother/child dyad is real, it is grounded in biological reality and does not dissolve as soon as the child leaves the mother’s body. For many women, becoming a mother is the most defining experience of their lives. Taking care of your own children is not, as the author seems to think, an escape or retreat from the real world. It is a wholehearted acceptance of the mother you have become and a letting go of the girl you were.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  H H

Ideally yes. But tell that to the single teenage mother.

H H
H H
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Many teenagers make wonderful mothers. I’m a Gen X woman, and when I was in secondary school some girls did indeed become pregnant. This was not seen as a huge tragedy though, and there was no pressure on them to have an abortion. Of course, back then girls weren’t all labouring under the delusion that they would be the next Marie Curie or Cheryl Sandberg, so an unplanned pregnancy wasn’t the end of the world. Most girls I knew just married the father of their child. They also managed to get on the property ladder quite a bit earlier than those of us who waited until we were ready, (whatever “ready” means). Furthermore, deferring motherhood indefinitely comes with its own set of problems.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  H H

I think you are right, but are confusing women embracing the real thing, and women promoting a fairy tale version online – a sort of barbification of the housewife/mother role. More about dressing the part, ticking the cool boxes and showing the world. Unlike real motherhood, it is a failure to grow up. And it’s narcissistic. They don’t just cook – they have to say “hey, look at me world, I’m cooking”.

H H
H H
6 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

I agree with you, David. Many of these influencers are larping wifedom and motherhood. They’re indulging in a form of cosplay. Many of them have full time cleaners and nannies and are not really doing any of the mothering at all. The influencers are by no means representative of the majority of wives and mothers; they’re just the ones currently hogging the microphone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I simply must return to my embroidery.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
7 months ago

It’s a culture of dependency, a diminution of personal autonomy, with shrinking possibilities for growth; and not just for the women, but for the men too. The man must keep “earning” the huge amounts of money needed to satiate their stay-at-home lady; fail to do so and it’s curtains for the so-called “hot housewife”. No “in sickness and in health, for better or worse” here.

Does that mean they’ll do anything to generate, and keep generating, the large amounts of wonga required to shower their chosen concubine with tokens of their confection because, without it, their identity and psychological security would be under threat? If so, what might be the social consequences of that?

Take a quick look at Luke whatshisnames’s company, Highkey Enterprises. In explaining what its “Branding department” does, it makes the claim that “Making brands HighKey famous with social media management and press Social media management and press are the future of the branding .” https://www.lukelintz.com/

You may draw your own conclusions, and perhaps this particular Puerto Rico-based firm sets and maintains the very highest ethical standards in the conduct of its business. It seems highly unlikely, though, that this marketing outfit earns its revenue from its facility to communicate clearly in the English language.

Louise Henson
Louise Henson
7 months ago

Not sure the career of a ‘stay at home girlfriend’ is one with infallible long-term prospects.

Daniel P
Daniel P
7 months ago
Reply to  Louise Henson

That depends on two things…

Will she marry the guy that can afford to keep her.

What a judge says she is entitled to.

Last edited 7 months ago by Daniel P
Jake Prior
Jake Prior
7 months ago

Without religion life has an almost inevitable tendency to nihilism. Women found home making to be claustrophobic and increasingly vacuous as technology replaced a large amount of the labour traditionally required to run a home. Men always knew, and women have now found out, that work is largely tedious, repetitive, and annoying. Without some grand narrative in the end you start wondering what the bloody point of whatever you’re doing is. You can’t – at least I can’t even though I’d very much like to – magic up a true faith out of nowhere if you live in a faithless society and it just makes no logical sense to you. So it’s no wonder people go from place to place seeing if there’s something to be found somewhere else.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
7 months ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

“Without religion life has an almost inevitable tendency to nihilism.”
Speak for yourself, old chap!
Personally, I don’t need a bunch of stupid fairy tales to determine my values, and I certainly don’t need some imaginary sky pilot who apparently has appointed certain people down here to tell the rest of us what to do and how to do it.
You may not have the moral fibre to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. Don’t assume everyone else is so weak.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago

I don’t know if it’s a matter of being weak so much as not trusting themselves and needing an authority to tell them what to do.

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

There are lots of reasons for religion, but one is clearly a desire for a moral order. It is pretty clear that in this world the bad often succeed while the good go to the wall. Nasty people do not always get their come uppance – giving the message to others that you might as well copy them.

Judgement in heaven (or karma) provides the moral order that the world clearly lacks.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
6 months ago

I don’t consider it an issue of moral fibre or strength. Your personal attack on someone that just made a philosophical comment on a social issue I think demonstrates very clearly that you don’t have a good idea of right and wrong, so thanks for so aptly and immediately supporting my case. I consider it an issue of humility. My views on moral issues have changed many times through my life based on greater experience as I’ve aged. I don’t know how you would come to any conclusion on moral values that weren’t based on experience and learning, and therefore be subject to change. Animals don’t appear to have any automatic moral values, and humans moral values differ dramatically between societies and over ages enough to think it’s unlikely there are truly intrinsic values we can all easily tap into if we just looked deeply enough into our soul. This makes me think there could be some benefit in the accumulated moral wisdom of many people throughout many ages, and indeed a society that agreed on these principles might be more confident and at peace with itself. You may be fully satisfied with your own understanding of your place in the universe and the point of your existence, but if you can’t see some evidence of people struggling with it in wider society, as the article demonstrated, then I think you have your head in the sand.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
6 months ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

So you think the answer is religion? But we have religion if you want it.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

Nice write up. It’s interesting to think of the trend as another facet of financial nihilism.
It fear this too may give girls false hopes again. Just as they overestimated their value on the marketplace they may find they don’t possess the sexual capital to hold up their side of the “tradwife” bargain and end up with the fate most feared in all those Bronte and Austen novels: being found “plain” and ending up with a middling husband.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The thing about “middling” husbands is surely that the wives they get are also middling? Where’s the problem with this? If a load of young women have got it into their heads that they’re all going to marry a billionaire then their inevitable disappointment will sting somewhat, but is this a problem we should be prepared somehow to socialise, which is the implication here?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

That’s basically it. It’s just not fun for a generation to be disappointed again.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

As a general rule I wholly agree that the latest generation has a great deal to complain about. It’s poorer than its parents, which is scandalous. I don’t buy into the generational conflict stuff and the hatred towards boomers etc – that nonsense is unacceptable. Nor do I have much sympathy for the trophy girlfriends described above who are channelling some sort of weird upside-down feminism to defend their life choices.

But I do have great sympathy for the majority of GenZs who want to work hard and get ahead. Life is much tougher for them than it ought to be, and that’s just wrong.

Last edited 7 months ago by John Riordan