Slate advice columnist goes full Defcon 1 over mother whose teenage daughter wants to be a housewife and stay-at-home mom.

Uh, oh! Another vulnerable young teen captured by TikTok, probably taking up vaping and creating an OnlyFans account.

But this is worse.

So much worse.

I have a 16-year-old daughter, "Rachel," who has always been a go-getter. She's smart and personable and has always had big plans for the future, such as college and an eventual career in high-level nursing.

Sadly, this is how these stories too often begin. A young woman with a bright and promising future as a valued cog in the corporate industrial complex followed by a comfortable retirement with her 17 cats.

Alas, this dream is being threatened by powerful social media forces.

Like most teenagers, Rachel uses social media (mainly TikTok and Instagram). Although her father and I have regulations about its use, and we loosely monitor what she's consuming, we trust her to be responsible. Now, I'm wondering if I did something wrong.

Indeed you did. Why, your daughter has "done a 180," and now instead of a career, longs for a life where she can stay home and take care of her children!

She wants to focus on maintaining her appearance and learning housewife skills for said future man. She can't wait to be able to sit at home all day and make quilts and homemade butter while homeschooling her children.

It's a dystopian future in which men go to work each day while women stay home and manage the household and take care of the children.

Otherwise known as "the ‘50s."

Say what you will, but it was the ultimate division of labor.

When I learned more about where this was coming from, I found out that Rachel had been spending almost all of her social media time looking at tradwife [traditional wife] accounts…

Honestly, of all the things available on social media, TikTok in particular, this is probably not the one to obsess over, but this mom has a bone and she's not letting it go.

— pages that glorify being a SAHM [Stay At Home Mom] and turn it into some sort of cottagecore patriarchal fantasy.

"Cottagecore patriarchal fantasy."

Definitely a great name for a band.

And then, the twist I personally did not see coming but probably should have.

For the record, I myself am a SAHM.

Of course you are. You live in a society where staying home and taking care of the children is at best scorned and at worst outright ridiculed. So, you've internalized this self-loathing and are trying to absolve your own perceived cultural sins by ensuring your daughter becomes the good little corporate dronebot you know you should have been if only you had listened to your betters.

I'm not looking down on women who choose homemaking as a career. That's what I did!

And yet, here you are.

What I am is deeply concerned that Rachel is not actually in love with the idea of becoming a wife and mother; she likes the idea of being taken care of by a man, and she's going to put herself in a situation that could turn abusive

Any situation can turn abusive. And in any case, you availed yourself of a choice which is your prerogative in a free country. You don't want your daughter at least considering a similar choice?

No she does not.

I've tried to have conversations with her about the dangers of relying on a man and what being a SAHM actually looks like,...

You raised her. She knows what it looks like.

You showed her.

...but it goes in one ear and out the other. Rachel is serious about dropping out of high school to focus on her future as a tradwife.

I completely agree with the mom that she should improve her grades, get her diploma, and keep all her options open. Parents should limit life-altering decisions (all of them) their children want to make as much as possible while they're still too young to understand the long-term consequences of those decisions.

...she has told her dad and me that she no longer plans to go to college because "real men don't need some educated feminist woman..." We've already taken her off social media and put her into therapy,...

Want to stay home and raise kids?

You might be suffering from mental illness.

Think you are boy and not a girl and want to cut off your breasts?

You might be suffering from a lack of hormone blockers. Here's a prescription.

Now, a normal advice columnist without a social justice agenda would probably counsel the mom to make her daughter stay in school and have her take a break from social media, but otherwise take a measured approach regarding her apparent interest in keeping house and watching the kids. Perhaps such a columnist would even suggest the mom and daughter take a cooking or sewing class together to build a measure of trust and mutual respect so that they can have open and honest conversations about the pros and cons of different paths she might want to take.

But, Jamilah Lemieux is no normal advice columnist. She is an "activist" and "cultural critic," who is "one of the leading voices of her generation on issues of race, gender and sexuality" who "has forged a particularly progressive path as a single parent," co-parenting with her daughter's father and stepmother.

So, this should be fun.

She starts off sounding perfectly reasonable.

Keep Rachel off of social media (to the best of your ability, as it's hard to monitor what she consumes when she's out of your presence)...

By all means, there's lots of genuinely nasty stuff out there and she is clearly impressionable if nothing else, so it's probably wise to...

...and in therapy.

Ah, there it is.

Until her grades improve, she shouldn't be allowed to hang out with friends or talk on the phone.

This is starting to sound less like an advice column and more like conversion therapy.

At least we know what kind of therapy she was talking about.

She was introduced to Tradwife life on social media staring at her phone for hours on end so you want to cut her off from any contact with her friends in person?

Ask her how she'd feel if her partner wouldn't let her talk to her family or friends or prevented her from having hobbies and interests of her own.

Wait, what? Where did that come from? She's talking about making quilts and raising kids, not running off to Saudi Arabia to join a harem.

Let her know that it's okay to want someone to be a protector and provider, but that a quality man is going to want a woman who has more to her than her ability to bake bread and rear children.

Honestly, it depends on the bread.

Inform her that many SAHM meet their husbands in college, and that part of what makes these women intriguing to their partners is their education and worldliness.

My wife has a college degree. She moved to DC shortly after graduating.

That is not what attracted me to her. She was decent, kind, smart, and funny. I don't recall ever asking for her curriculum vitae.

There are a lot more educations to be had out there than what can be found exclusively on a college campus, not to mention many fine men and women.

The funny thing about elites is that they have no idea when they are being elitist.

Anyway, back to the conversion session.

Introduce your daughter to some accessible feminist texts that will help her to better understand how patriarchy truly impacts the lives of women.

Sounds like fun! But what if your daughter won't read them because they are insufferable?

How does badgering her while she tries to eat sound?

If you can't get her to read them on her own, read them to her at the dinner table. bell hooks's Feminism Is for Everybody and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists are easy to read and dispel the myth of feminism being some sort of cult for man-hating women.

Exactly, Lemieux wants you to know that it is a total myth that modern feminism is some sort of cult for man-hating women!

Which you can totally tell when she follows up that bit of advice with this warning:

Talk about how feminism has improved the quality of life for women; explain to her that there was a time in this country when men could legally rape their wives, when women could not vote or get a checking account or divorce an abusive partner.

Keep these conversations going on a daily basis, talk about feminism until you are blue in the face,...

And, because someone apparently borrowed self awareness from Lemieux's toolbox and forgot to return it...

...for you literally have to deprogram your daughter.

Not so much deprogram as reprogram I would think. The Tradwife movement is mostly a reaction to, and rejection of, some of the more extreme elements of modern feminism not the least of which is the contention that every women's dream in life is to be an Executive Vice President with a corner office and a circle of childless friends.

Lemieux took a question from a mother distraught that her daughter's grades were suffering and she's thinking of dropping out of school due to a TikTok trend that captured her fancy and turned it into an opportunity to indoctrinate her into becoming a modern feminist?

What if her daughter had all the same problems, but wanted to become a singer?

Or a boy.

How about a boy singer?

I imagine it would be a slightly different approach.

As for those "easy-to-read" feminist books, I had to check out the "bell hooks" entry as she made a brief appearance in a piece I wrote here back in 2021 when a Canadian named "Dr. Linda Manyguns" was lauding "hooks" for being a pioneer in the "lower case movement," an effort to further equity through misspelling:

we join leaders like e. e. cummings, bell hooks, and peter kulchyski, who reject the symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found and do not use capital letters except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition.

This is the kind of thing that makes functional brain cells want to die.

One of the reviewers for the book Lemieux recommended, "Feminism is for Everybody," gushed, writing this.

She explores the use of racism and classism, sometimes unconscious, as instrumental in keeping feminism from making the strides it could make.

Racism and classicism.

In a book about feminism.

Sure, why not?!

Regardless, both are "sometimes unconscious" which is super convenient for those wanting to charge you with bad intentions without having to go through all the bother of having to prove it.

She goes on to explore how the upper and even middle classes use inequality to exploit others for their own benefit often while not even seeing how the very lives they live are built on the services of other people.

That book was published in 2014, so not exactly a timeless classic, more like a Lemieux favorite when it comes to indoctrinating new feminists, which is less about equal rights for women, and more about Marxist ideology.

I have to admit that there was a point while I was reading the mother's letter that I thought it was an elaborate troll. She was so over-the-top in her reaction, and yet, when you google "trad wife" without any other bias words or expectations, you get this.

"Insidious," "wrong," "reactionary fantasy," "financially dangerous," and my personal favorite, "dangerous, or just stupid?"

Google "single lifestyle," again without any bias words or expectations, you get this.

"Benefits," "luxurious," and "better off."

It goes on largely like that for a while. That first return is my favorite though, from of all places.

If a website devoted to marriage has been corralled into heralding how fantastic it is to be single, something is going on.

How about searching "working mom," since the knock on being a tradwife is that without your own independent source of income, you are reliant on a man.

That yields mostly articles on the travails and struggles of having a job outside of the house and/or coping mechanisms for same.

What are they trying to tell us here, really?

Staying home and taking care of the kids is bad.

Not staying home and taking care of the kids is bad.

Not staying home, having no kids, and instead taking care of your boss's quarterly bonus is super awesome!

Reason had a good rundown of the light-your-hair-on-fire reaction of so many feminists towards tradwife influencers.

All the things that make tradwife accounts popular also make a certain cohort of media commentators very nervous, spawning a glut of anti-tradwife think pieces: "Tradwife Influencers Represent an Authoritarian, Sexist Ideology," screeches Teen Vogue. "'Tradwives': the new trend for submissive women has a dark heart and history," warnsThe Guardian. And New York magazine's The Cut asks: "Is Tradwife Content Dangerous, or Just Stupid?"

There's my favorite again, "Dangerous or just stupid?"

There's often a doth-protest-too-much quality to the backlash, which simultaneously lampoons the tradwives as too ridiculous for anyone to take seriously, while also denouncing them as dangerous, destructive, and surreptitiously ideological.

But the most devoted critics of tradwives, like [Helen] Petersen, claim not to be concerned about their influence on women or society at large, but at the same time seem to find their very existence intolerable.

And this is the attitude that lays bare the core of modern feminism, at least the loudest voices of modern feminism.

It's not about choice. It's about the right choice, and you best believe you better make the right choice lest you get pummeled.

Why do they get so worked up over it? Why is it such a challenge to their hegemony on the popular culture?

Because there's a truth buried in all these tradwife accounts that they would rather you not notice.

The women who are the greatest targets of the elite's ire are the TikTok influencers and Instagrammers with millions of followers. They have successfully built profitable businesses just like they were told to, only they did it their way, following their rules and the feminist elites and media lemmings can't stand it.

It gets even worse for them. In a narrative switcheroo, these influencers, and by extension, the women with whom they are resonating, are demonstrating that they are the powerful ones, but not powerful in the way feminists prefer, but powerful in the way women have always been powerful.

Back to Reason:

The uncomfortable truth is that there is something appealing about the idea, not just of being provided for, but of being comfortably confined. There's a paradoxical freedom in it, a different kind of work-life balance. Open one of these women's Instagram or TikTok feeds and notice the small beautiful spaces, the small beautiful things. The camera stays focused: on the inside of a mixing bowl, on a single stretch of flour-dusted countertop, and of course, on the creator herself. Indeed, it's a curious feature of tradwife content that the husbands who allegedly rule their lives are barely visible. When one appears, it's at the woman's direction: he stands where she tells him, he waves at the camera, he speaks only if she asks him to. Off-camera, he might be the head of the household; on it, he's nothing but a vaguely handsome prop in a story by women, for women, about women. The tradwife is a queen in her castle, a master of her universe. Some might dismiss this as fake empowerment, given that the tradwife's dominion ostensibly ends at her front door. But if this life is a cage, it's a cozy one — and one she built herself.

It's not for everyone, and I'm glad people have choices, infinite choices, really, regarding dialing up or dialing down their commitment to job, family, church, friends, and yes, cats.

Someone has to take care of the cats, okay?

But of all the things to heap scorn on, of all the things to diminish and ridicule and reject as somehow subversive, staying home and taking care of the house and the children is an exceedingly odd one to choose.

And yet that very choice is itself revealing.

Of course these depictions are idealized, it's social media after all, and of course that 16-year-old girl needs to be reeled in a bit, as all teenagers do, but the reflex to place her in therapy, isolate her from her friends, and inculcate her with neo-Marxist feminist dogma tells you all you need to know about the true motives of people who ostensibly are here to help you.

I don't think it's you they want to help.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Not the Bee or any of its affiliates.

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