Tradition is not an Ideology

This article was originally published for paying subscribers for The BFD INSIGHT: Politics and is reproduced here for all Right Minds readers on a delayed basis.

Dieuwe de Boer

Amie and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this week, and her 30th birthday the week prior. The celebrations were a bit low-key as we're going to take an extended holiday together in a few months, without the three kids for the first time. I don't talk that much about the specifics of our personal life, other than the "tradwife / tradlife" terms we both enjoy using.

The "tradwife" discourse has been resurrected in the political realm this week, with reactionary feminist author Mary Haringtom interviewing Lauren Southern on her failed so-called "tradwife" marriage. Some of this has to be moderated with the context that Lauren Southern married an Australian federal agent who then gaslighted her for a few years before abandoning/divorcing her. The whole thing was a rather non-traditional setup: they only knew each other for four months, were from a separate country, different ethnicity, different religion (she raised Protestant and he Roman Catholic), and of course the fact that he might have been getting paid to ruin her life.

The first part of the analysis that Harrington makes is very good: people take an ideal and craft an ideology out of it with no particular experience. This has resulted in the fetishisation of the "tradwife" lifestyle. The entire ideology discounts the fact that in an organic setup, the traditional life requires a grounded local community, access to nearby family, elders, a community of other women, and so on. There was however none of that in Lauren's marriage.

She also highlights how this manufactured ideology attracts bad actors. In a traditional setting these would be easier to weed out as others would spot the red flags for you, but the reality of life also is that some men are bad and sometimes love blinds one to all faults. Warnings often go unheaded even when there are more guardrails in place.

The traditional life requires complete buy-in from both husband and wife. Discounting the demeaning comments she says she was subjected to, the complaints from her husband that she was earning no money already tells you this wasn't the case. She wanted a particular kind of life that he clearly did not. Living life on a single-income is hard, especially when the modern economic system is rigged to require two. That means the "tradlife" requires a lot of mutual assistance with both of you making a lot of sacrifices and enduring societal penalties simply to live out your beliefs.

When we got married, Amie made almost all the money for the first year. (Not very trad, right?) That was part of the plan: I was studying and needed that first year to finish up and get into full-time work. By the time I had a job, she was able to go on maternity leave and hasn't worked a day outside the house since. Our bank balance was often pretty close to $0 during that time, but we didn't need to worry too much because people in our community were always very generous, even randomly buying us groceries or petrol and the like. Even our rent was very heavily discounted. Access to all that assistance is inherently part of "tradlife", you can't really live a tradlife without it. One day you will end up paying it forward, for we are but part of the continuous living stream that flows from those who came before us to those who will come after us.

When Lauren Southern said she was locked out of her house for days on end sometimes when her husband stormed off, she rightly compared her life to that of a modern slave. The housewife must have full control over and authority over her domain, and so from the beginning she was exactly as she described, not a wife, but a slave. She was blinded by her own beliefs (and gaslighting) that any problems were her own fault.

The organic nature of traditional household economic management results in the husband earning money and the wife spending it. Regardless of the specific way things are arranged, the entirety of your combined finances must be 100% transparent and accessible. My one piece of wedding advice to people is always to close their separate bank accounts.

One of Lauren Southern's laments does hit a bit close to home, in that the wife often ends up having to be more passive as the husband to follow his dreams. There's some inevitability here when a wife stays home to raise the kids and manage the household, however from my observations this is usually solved when the kids grow up. After that the husband keeps working and the wife often has a lot more resources freed up to pursue her own interests, which sometimes may be more work or at other times the hobbies she missed out on. The hard part is keeping things from feeling too unbalanced for the first decade or two.

The lesson from the "tradwife influencers filled with regret" is that ideology is no substitute for organic tradition, and traditions are not manufactured from some predefined list of ingredients. No amount of "tradwiving" can overcome a bad choice of spouse.

Every "tradlife" looks a little different depending on your cultural background, your religion, and the community around you. Once you divorce yourself from those surroundings you multiply the risks, more easily ignore the red flags, and need a whole lot more vigilance to avoid a tragic end.


About the author

Dieuwe de Boer

Editor of Right Minds NZ, host of The Dialogue on RCR, and columnist at The BFD. Follow me on Telegram and Twitter. In addition to writing about conservative politics and reactionary thought, I like books, gardening, biking, tech, reformed theology, beauty, and tradition.

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