Retro arguments & division

29 Apr

The retro wives trend got up and did another stage shuffle on the weekend, courtesy of Alexandra Carlton’s ‘The Retro Housewife‘ and, predictably, has sparked more discussion. I have written about this before for the Drum (ABC) and how the original article and the article a decade before it, were not entirely moored in fact or reality, catered to the tiniest demographic of privilege.

Carlton’s piece is interesting for the fact the retro wives mentioned who run blogs – some of whom, it could be argued, draw a limited or decent revenue or opportunities via that pursuit and thus aren’t strictly women who don’t work or are already very comfortable financially – and that the contemporary feminists interviewed are by chance without children. Though I am sure it is not a conscious choice, it does subconsciously set up a vaudeville battle between “the” feminists and “the” retro wives – no kids, kids; feminists, non-feminists without allowing for the fact that there can be and is considerable overlay.

Some have written how feminism has to learn to deal with the choices women make – once again, this is something a few of us in Australia have written before. That ‘housewives’ and ‘feminists’ are presented as natural adversaries is tiresome, unfortunately occasionally true and both sides wear the blame.

If feminism and stay at home women are continually presented as combatants, it implies neither are affiliated or have anything to learn from either side. If articles continue to present feminists and stay at home women as different or in opposition, it presents the truly bizarre notion that women can only be one or the other, incapable of nuance or being a whole or complex person capable of multiple choices, talents and desires.

That’s where the supposedly warring tribes of feminism and stay at home parents could truly come together. The whole ‘retro wives’ fake trend is being sold as women choosing their home and family over career or (apparently) feminism. Yet even a cursory glance at the statistics, quotes and history show it is the lack of choice actually forcing women out of the workplace and not a desire to become one with pastel bakeware or Instagram filters. Often these arguments present the home as either a lifestyle sanctuary or intellectual wasteland when, once again, the home is statistically one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be

When you consider that the home is dangerous for women and the workplace is still shutting women out, why is it that feminists and stay at home women are presented as enemies with nothing in common?

Tied into this umbrage is reader responsibility and response. Some have bristled at the slurs against baking, blaming feminists or stay at home parents and, more appropriately, writers who keep poking the horse.

Readers have a responsibility in all of this. The culture of offence is now so inflamed, so swollen and bilious that people are now offended if their lifestyle choices aren’t represented and validated in an article. I’ve seen updates from people who feel mocked for the references to baking or people astounded others would choose to stay at home with children.

Want to bake? Don’t want to bake? Want to work? Want to stay at home? Have children? Not want children? Want to do all of the above? Good for you, you’ve made a choice. You’re ahead of most of the world’s population. This shouldn’t necessarily mean you then deserve editorial validating and celebrating your lifestyle choice above all others or to stifle any quote from researched (or not) experts that may contradict your opinion.

2 Responses to “Retro arguments & division”


  1. Some women want to stay home with children and feminism needs to make peace with that | blue milk - April 29, 2013

    […] This is also a great reply from Amy Gray to “The retro housewife” […]

  2. The 60th Down Under Feminists Carnival | the news with nipples - May 6, 2013

    […] Retro arguments & division by Amy Gray at Pesky Feminist: […]

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