The #Tradwife movement which emerged in the last couple of years on social medial should be in a position of power and scrutiny right now. Those women who claim to have embraced domesticity can revel in the self-isolatory measures imposed on most of us. They know how to stay at home, and they have made a career out of making their home a comfortable and happy place for others who live there. So, one might think, they are better off, right now, than those feminists who still abide by second wave feminism beliefs about the shackles of domesticity. If like Simone de Beauvoir, your home is just a place where you sleep, but that you prefer to work, eat, and play outside, then right now, you will not be in a good place. At least, that seems like the obvious inference to draw.
"Suddenly “looking to the past” and doing things the #TradWife way doesn’t seem quite so crazy. I can happily care for & teach my child without complaint, cook a meal from scratch, minimise, economise and budget - AND I actually like spending time with my family. Born for this!"
Last week I looked to the past at Manon Roland's productivity in prison to see if I can find something helpful for us in these trying times.
Part of Manon Roland's success was her domestic training: she was able to make her cell comfortable for working in a few minutes, and then it required very little upkeep.
But the point here, is that she knew how to spend very little time on domestic work so that she could have more time to herself for what was truly important: writing and studying! This seems pretty much like the opposite of the tradwife's philosophy. Manon did not clean to serve others, but to serve herself.
Of course, there was no one else for her to serve while she was in prison: what if she'd been at home, still, with her husband and their daughter?
One thing we do know about the Roland marriage, is that both parents were happy to spend time with their daughter, whether teaching her, playing with her, or just minding her while the other was busy. So it's unlikely that had she been in isolation as we are, in her home, with her family, that Manon Roland would have turned into a tradwife, and reveled in cleaning and cooking for the sake of making others comfortable.
Manon found that her aptitude for home making came in handy when she was forcibly isolated in prison in the months prior to her death. While she did not enthuse that she was 'born for this!' she did say that her skills at making any space comfortable in a short time and being able to stay in a small enclosed space, from which she escaped through her reading and writing made that difficult period tolerable. What her skills helped her with, was not enjoying her prison cell, but making time and space to escape it through her work. So for her domestic work is not an end in itself, nor a subservient activity performed for the benefit of others only.
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