So I’m in the middle of a lovely winter vacation, lying in bed in an Atlanta hotel room eating Oreos, when this comes on TLC:
And here’s what I have to say: WTF?
While lots of women these days are embracing the aesthetics of 1950s domesticity – retro hairdos, A-line dresses, frilly aprons, homemade cupcakes – the four women on this show are also actually trying to live the values of the 1950s: feminine subservience, focusing 100% on family, letting “men be men.” As Anna Breslaw at Jezebel snarks, “there’s no mention in the clips or interviews as to whether any of these women are on birth control or insist on getting paid 60 cents to every man’s dollar or what.”
Apparently this is some kind of subculture in Southern California, though I’d certainly never heard about it. And, not to brag, but I’m kind of an expert on obscure retro-feminine subcultures. I mean, I read upwards of 100 blogs a week, so…
The women I know who are super into New Domesticity would certainly not be into the idea of reviving 1950s gender values. But the New Domesticity movement and Wives With Beehives do have this in common: a dislike for certain aspects of the modern world, and an interest into bringing back certain aspects of the past. For lots of New Domesticity types, this means eschewing processed foods in favor of cooking from scratch like your grandma used to do, or raising kids with “ancient” techniques like babywearing or co-sleeping rather than fancy cribs and strollers, or turning off the internet and relaxing with some knitting or crafting. For the Wives With Beehives, this means going whole-hog for retro sex roles, old-fashioned outfits right down to the tea gloves and pillbox hats, and authentic vintage kitchens complete with lack of dishwashers.
“The modern world looks confusing, scary, and kind of ugly,” says Dollie, a 24-year-old “wife,” explaining why she wants to be “the perfect 1950s housewife.”
Have you seen this? Thoughts? Has anyone heard of this phenomenon before the TLC show?