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The #Tradwife Trend And Our Culture With Anne Helen Petersen

Haley Paskalides  |  December 15, 2023

Anne Helen Petersen on why the #tradwife trend is so popular and what it says about where we are as a society.

Trends say a lot about where we are as a culture… and some of them say a lot about what it means to be a woman with money in the 21st century. HerMoney’s mission has always been to make personal finance accessible for all women. Thankfully, long gone are the days when men made all of the money (and therefore controlled what it was spent on) and women stayed home and cooked, cleaned, and greeted their husbands at the door with a hot meal every night. 

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But there’s a growing trend on social media that you may have seen: #tradwife (traditional wife) or the #stayathomegirlfriend. In essence, these women take care of the house, the kids (if there are any), and look good when their husbands get home from a long day of work. 

But unlike a lot of fun (and funny) social media trends — the tradwife trend is flat-out dangerous. It perpetuates the stereotype that we’ve been pushing back against for literal centuries: That men are better with money than women, and the completely outdated stereotype that a woman’s place is in the home. We also know that even as financial contributions have become more equal in marriages, women still pick up a heavier load when it comes to household chores and caregiving responsibilities, while men spend more time doing what they want to do.

Anne Helen Petersen, author of the wildly popular substack “Culture Study” knows all about this lifestyle because she grew up surrounded by tradwife culture. So, when Elle asked her to try out #tradwifelife and write about it, she jumped at the chance. Petersen says the accounts espousing this lifestyle are so huge “not because there are millions of people who want to be tradwives. It’s because there is a representation there that is provocative to women who are working two, three, or four jobs (inside the home and out). So, the idea of just doing ONE job is very attractive.”

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Petersen sees the root of the tradwife trend going back to the 1960s and 1970s when women entered the workforce en masse. “And what so many different theorists have shown is that when they entered the workforce, it’s not like they figured out, ‘Okay, now we’re going to split all the domestic responsibilities,’” Petersen says. “The deal was, ‘Sure, you can get a job, but you also have to do this job that you’re already doing.’” 

Petersen hopes if we can take one thing away from this tradwife trend it’s that “there has to be a way for us to have a financial future-forward that isn’t yoked to the person that we’re with.” That’s because — like so many of us — she’s seen #tradwife women go through a divorce or lose their partner, and have no resources left for later in life.

Listen to to hear why this trend is catching on, and learn how we can push back on the myriad overwhelming responsibilities we take on as women. (Hint: the secret is by building more intentional, women-first communities.)


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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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