Today is my birthday, but that’s not really why I’m posting. I’m writing today because it’s simply a reminder that it sits right alongside a date now firmly etched in the diary of when I was somewhat “born into” this wild ride as an advocate for housewives, and traditional men too as it happens.
This set of circumstances and the subsequent “trad wife” hysteria that followed is something I have wanted to write about for so very long. It has been an experience that has been incredible, eye-opening, heartwarming, heartbreaking, so full of opportunity, and oftentimes - harrowing and dark.
You see, the 20th of November marks 365 days since I embarked on my “year of yes”. You might have heard of that before. It’s akin to feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Living life according to the opportunities that present themselves and saying yes to each and every one. Some might say it’s allowing destiny to fulfil itself, but I personally like to think of it as following God’s plan. He had a challenging one for me this past year.
My year of saying yes, and the opportunities it created.
19th November 2019, turning 34, I decided that the following 12 months was to be my year of yes, and true to my word, the very next morning I opened my home to a film crew and producer from the BBC. They had contacted me after seeing my passion for celebrating housewives (and their hardworking husbands) on social media and wanted to take a look at the “real life” point of a view of a woman who has eschewed a “traditional career” outside the home in favour of being a “traditional housewife”.
What was promised to be a sensitive and first-hand look at what it means to be a housewife today felt right, and was something I wanted to be part of, having been frustrated for so long over the underrepresentation of housewives in the media. They wanted to know what it means for a woman to see the running of her home and the care-taking of her family as meaningful work, and how, as a family we divide the labour of life amongst us. Not equally, but according to talent and strength.
They wanted to know what it looks like for me, a woman, taking on the heavy load of running the home, and my husband, a man, bearing the responsibility for financially providing for us. How we lived out our “traditional values”, ones that had more in common with the family dynamics of 1959, than 2019.
Hours were spent shadowing me for the day, hundreds of questions were asked. Really deep ones, that explored the dynamic of trust, and, marital leadership, and “togetherness” in a marriage. We explored Christian marital submission, we explored vows, we explored workload, and we explored my feelings. Feelings that expressed how little the world thought of my “work”, and how, women are now expected to work outside of the home to be of any use to society.
The crew eventually went back to London, and I felt good about the day. The young ladies who had spent the day with me really seemed to understand where I was coming from. I made them lunch, and as we sat around my dining table I turned the tables and asked them about how they felt about what I had to say. They understood. They “got it”. I was happy that they were sensitive to my plight. I felt I’d done a good job.
A month or more passed before I heard anything, the documentary had been sent to the editing suite, and according to the producer, they were looking for the “right time” to air. She’d let me know when, and so I put it to the back of my mind.
One cold and dark afternoon in early January I received a phone call out of the blue from another producer at the Victoria Derbyshire Show asking me to come on breakfast television the very next morning. It was happening, and in a way I wasn’t prepared for - the documentary I hadn’t even seen myself yet had ripped around the BBC bulletin board like wildfire - I knew it in my gut, something had to be controversial about it.
The show we had filmed back in November, I had been told, was to be aired on some BBC offshoot channel at around 10 or 11pm in the evening (and not to expect many people to see it), had now been placed front and centre on the BBC News website for January the 8th.
My husband urged me to say yes to Victoria Derbyshire. He could manage the fort while I went to the TV studio, and I could tell he felt as passionate about this as I did - this was our chance. The chance for a “traditional couple” to have their point of view explained for once. It’s rare that a traditional (some might say, “old-fashioned”) family with healthy dynamics are seen on the TV. Even more so a happy housewife.
As nervous as I was, he reminded me that to “say yes” was the obedient thing to do. We honestly felt this was an opportunity from God, as you can’t just invite yourself on National Television. I had to do it, despite how fearful I was.
Waking up the next day and heading to the studios, my first taste of disappointment was learning that I was to share the slot with a “feminist writer”. That old chestnut… to be a housewife means you are anti-feminist, apparently. This fellow guest seemed to want to keep her distance from me, but I made sure to introduce myself and learn a little about her point of view before we went on. I’m not stupid enough to blindly walk into a viper’s nest without knowing the identity of the poison. Nothing much was coming my way during our brief chat - too distracted with Instagram stories and fussing with the makeup artist, but I eventually got it out of her that she was a wife and mother who had written a book on a subject she felt passionate about.
Hmmm, that sounded familiar. We weren’t so different really. Except she had the gall to ask me to take my heels off to make her look taller…
The interview wasn’t bad, I thought - the presenter was warm and kind, and the majority of the incoming calls from viewers were in support of my story. However I was disheartened by the fact that they had pitted me against another woman - one who I have to be frank, thought herself somehow better and more “progressive” because of how she defined her (similar) role to mine left an awfully sour taste in my mouth. Sure, she may not identify herself as a traditional housewife but our daily lives weren’t that different. Yet our attitudes and value towards our work in the home, and especially towards our husbands, couldn’t be more different (a point to ponder).
Here I am on national television, to talk about traditional family dynamics - something I have chosen for myself, something that makes me far happier than being a “lady boss”, and they wheel out that loaded word…
FEMINISM, and worse - claiming that a housewife who looks after her husband “infantilises men”. What is infantile about a man with heavy responsibility? My man makes sure there is bread on the table, so we can all eat. So what if it’s me that makes the sandwich?
My man works hard to make sure there is bread on the table. So what if it’s me that makes the sandwich? Alena Kate Pettitt
The media has an agenda, and it’s not in favour of traditional families.
Despite being terribly disappointed in the edit of the BBC documentary and being misrepresented as a racist/nationalist/anti-feminist/alt-right white supremacist (they really did a job on me with that one), I continued on in faith. Saying yes to every invite for television, radio, podcast, newspaper, and magazine that came my way. A favourite moment being when a multi-millionaire TV presenter couldn’t fathom why I’d discuss finances with my husband and check if it was possible, for our single income family to spend money on a new sofa, or seem to grasp why we’d need to budget (and separately manage those budgets) either.
The other asking why I’d bother to greet my husband warmly when he returned home from work.
Perhaps I hadn’t helped myself with the tongue-in-cheek blog post titles that were further sensationalised and taken out of context, but I took it on the chin. Surely people could make their own minds up once they came to this blog and read what I had to say? To hear it from the horse’s mouth would help them realise that the media were spinning vicious lies and perpetuating the alt-right angle as click-bait.
You would like to think people could make up their own minds wouldn’t you? But no, I have come to realise that the media brainwashes most people, and they tend to believe what they read or hear rather than think for themselves. A horrifying thought, and I do hope the masses take a better approach to voting. Especially women, seeing as we fought so hard for it!
So as this year of saying yes to every opportunity draws to a close, I’d like to share with you what I have learned.
There’s only one place to find gospel truth, and it’s not in the papers.
I think as a society we can be too trusting of news sources. Most of us expose ourselves to media as much as we expose ourselves to sunshine and oxygen, and as much as those elements are good for us, too much can be a bad thing.
Fake news is a real thing. Journalists are not impartial, and many of them (particularly young single women - who make up the majority of those who have written about me), believe themselves to be the morally right, social justice warriors and tastemakers of modern society: despite this, they’re more than happy to smear you without even so much as asking you to set the record straight. Most journalism needs to be re-classified as ‘Chinese Whispers’.
This is why humans aren’t fit to judge. We cannot lay aside our preferences and prejudices. We cannot lay aside our historical experiences and lay out the facts when we feel something personal about the story. Imagine a twice divorced single mother writing about my life as a happily married housewife who likes her role in the home. Do you think she’d look at me plainly, and celebrate what I’m saying? Or do you think she’d add her two cents and finish the article off with a stark warning? Insert her opinion somehow. The “angles” are always personal and out to get you, (except for this example).
Now imagine that most journalists are either looking to sell their writing to keep a roof over their heads, or write for clicks in order to “get ahead”. Most are ambitious, young, single women working in an aggressive field. Are they more likely to write a fluff-piece… or something that will garner a reaction?
The media have an agenda to infuriate, shock, and engage you in order to sell ad space. They want you hooked, and they use emotional leverage to achieve it. They have an agenda. As the saying goes; when you don’t have to pay for the product - you are the product.
Don’t believe the headlines. Do your own research. Make up your own mind. A hive mind is an owned mind.
A woman’s worst enemy isn’t men, but her own kind.
I have grown up under a false narrative (one perpetuated by the media and many women surrounding me) that men are the enemy. Men will keep you down, men will keep you behind, men want women out of the workplace, and men want to control.
A common story further endorsed by retail giants who openly sell everything from t-shirts to notebooks with slogans like “smash the patriarchy”, and that “the future is female” (a phrase I find problematic and supports gendercide, see here as to why). Some of these clothing items are being sold in toddler size!
I beg you, ask a three year old child to explain what “the future is female” means and see what answer comes back. Talk about indoctrination!
All men hold us back? Oh goodness gracious me. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in 2020 and in this free western world could be further from the truth. It is in fact, in my journey so far, I have found that other women are more likely to keep each other from reaching happiness and fulfilling achievements. Like crabs in a bucket, if they see you reaching for the top, they’ll drag you down any way they know how.
I’m yet to be told I am ugly by a man, that my husband is bound to be cheating on me because I am a housewife. Or be sent death threats and told to kill myself because of the fact that I’m talking about my lifestyle choice. There have been many of these - every single one sent by a woman. Many of them reacting to false headlines. Most of them publicly identifying themselves as ladies who are feminists and care about women’s rights to choose her life’s path. I was encouraged to follow my dreams, but I’m clearly choosing the “wrong” dream, non? Being a housewife isn’t anti-feminist!
I hadn’t realised there was only one way to be a free woman, or a feminist for that matter. I missed the memo - housewives don’t count. Alena Kate Pettitt
Feminism as it currently stands, is not exactly selling itself as inclusive. How about a woman’s right to choose to stay home and be a housewife, to look after her own children? Or should she just keep quiet about it until it’s time to return to the workplace where her only value in this world lies?
“The Sisterhood” is really quite fragile, melting at the first sign of conflict or trouble, and gone at the first opportunity to get one-up on another lady. Especially in the workplace. Not exactly #womensupportingwomen is it? Don’t get me wrong, I love women but they’re not as easy going as the male of the species. If you think it’s hard to be a woman, try this on for size…
Males are poorly represented in the media today too! You could say, they get a far worse deal than even housewives. They are told that their masculinity is toxic.
Masculinity is not toxic. Men may destroy, but men also build. Men go to war, men save, and men protect. Yet we are still consistently told that men are an unwanted stain on the fabric of society…
If they won’t rape, molest, or sexually harass you, they will likely cheat on you when you get old, leaving you for a younger model, or the secretary at work. They will walk away from your children and leave you destitute. Why are we being taught not to trust them? Are women the only ones that can be trusted?
The hidden agenda here is horrifying - something almost Orwellian.
“Destroy the family unit and have every member dependent on the state. Separate woman from man, and child from mother. Have her work in the name of independence, but own her time, and her taxes”.
They hate me because I’m daring to stand up to this!
Those who criticise haven’t even walked a mile in a housewife’s shoes either, but judgement and hate abounds. I’ve had my fair share of DM’s on social media joyfully expressing that I am a fool to trust my husband to provide for our family - that I am doing a disservice to feminism. Every message coming from a young, single, and childless embittered woman “living her best life”. They claim too that I’m “at risk” of abuse. Would they feel differently if I were a lesbian married to a woman, and was a traditional housewife within said marriage?
I question too whether they love their fathers and brothers to have this kind of attitude. Or why they even bother to date if they think so little of men - or is it just my husband they want to take down?
My own parents are separated, but that does not mean my Dad is deadbeat. My Grandfathers were honourable and committed men, my brother is wonderfully sensitive and caring, my uncle works in close-protection security and risks his life daily for others. My husband would walk over hot coals for me, my male friends at school were happy-go-lucky, protective, and if anything, more scared of me than I was of them! Previous male co-workers were considerate and helpful. My own young son is such a joy and an absolute gift from the Lord. I hope I can do a good job in raising him with the belief that women will see the good in him too.
How can I label men toxic and support this narrative when I know the opposite to be true? Put plainly, it’s frankly bullying! Men can be victims too, even of rumours and character-based assumptions based on nothing more than their chromosomes.
I’ve never liked bullies, and have to stand up to them! I have to, it’s the right thing to do - even if it means standing up to my fellow women.
You see, men are just as sensitive and as caring as we are, they deserve our support too. We must take their feelings into consideration instead of living in this female-centred universe where everything must benefit those of the (un)fairer sex to the behest of everyone else.
I like to believe, after the hundreds of emails I have received from married and single men alike that they just want us to be happy! Especially if we are raising their children. They recognise that it is hard work looking after a family and a home. This is their home life too, and a man’s opinion about how children within that dynamic are raised is just as valid.
Sometimes the mother being at home is the best thing for the family. Men don’t want us kept at home to serve them, they want us to be there for our children, and make life comfortable for all involved, instead of everyone having to run about like headless chickens. They have a willingness to deal with the stress of work so that we don’t have to!
Men are not the enemy - the lies that you have been told about them are. Alena Kate Pettitt
Even men at work aren’t as bad as you think. You see I’ve paid my dues in the corporate world, and I found men nothing but supportive. Quiet perhaps, but supportive, however the women I worked with at every level of management made it absolute hell for a girl like me. I couldn’t hack it in an environment that so clearly expressed that men were rotten to the core, women were naturally “better people, just because”, and that in order to get ahead I had to behave like a man. How backwards! The only time I had a nice experience with female colleagues was when I was very clearly pregnant. Ah! No longer a threat, she’s on her way out…
I’ve also had friends who have been in full support over my writing while it wasn’t doing well, but the moment something out of the ordinary happened to me (like appearing on television), they suddenly discredit my experiences or thoughts on the matter, and drop me like a hot potato. Liberal friends, who vocalise their support of every woman’s choice no longer speak to me because of articles like this. An article they hadn’t even bothered to read, just skimmed the title (see: approach to voting).
Nothing is despised more than a woman who loves men for who they are, without trying to change or feminise them. Who see them as equals and give them the benefit of the doubt as opposed to judging them “broken and needing to be fixed” based solely on their biological appendage.
Further detested are wives who want nothing to do with the common past time of belittling their husbands over gin. It’s not the patriarchy you must fear, it’s the power hungry matriarchy. They don’t want “equality”, they wish to rule and have no questions asked.
The modern feminist movement as it stands really needs some crisis PR, because these attitudes have been demonstrated and verbally expressed by those who call themselves “feminists”. They aren’t seeking equality, they are seeking dominance - and that is anything but fair. I’ll never label myself as anti-feminist, but I won’t align myself with something so far away from the values it originally intended either.
Let is be said, on record for the last time; “I, housewife, am in favour of women’s rights, equal access to education, equal opportunities in the workplace, and for every woman to have autonomy over her own life”.
Believe it or not, serving my family and choosing to spend my days at home doesn’t take those opportunities away from me. In fact it liberates me in many more ways than a “career” ever has. I am my own boss, I learn new things every day, I love my colleagues fiercely. I am the queen of my castle!
I’m here for equal opportunities, and above all, mutual respect.
We can try not to offend, but it’s impossible not to.
As you know, I write about kindness, traditional values, and etiquette - above all, doing the right thing. Yet, sometimes I need to say the wrong thing, in order to say the right thing. Are you still with me?
You see, men and women aren’t the same! For the past decade, society has been intent on blending everything. While I celebrate choices, the sliding scale of self-identity, and doing what makes you happy (so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone), I do not believe that you have to demonise the polar choices in order to make way for the grey areas or the rainbow in between. We should celebrate our differences instead of trying to demonise them. Masculinity, and femininity in their purest forms are not toxic, and it is not wrong to identify with them.
So what if I prefer traditional gender roles in my marriage? So what if I think my husband is better at making money than I am, better at hanging shelves, and better with finances. I’d even go so far as to say he’s emotionally stronger than me! I’m ok to let him be better than me in some areas, and even win - even if I’ve lost at something “because I’m a girl”. It’s our truth. I’m not here to say you have to live this way. I’m just saying we found something in this mad upside down world that makes sense for us.
Believe it or not, I am better than my husband at some things too! We are two halves of one whole. We complement each other, and divide responsibilities according to our strengths and interest. Not everything needs to be “fair” or split down the middle. He is the head of the house yes, he has a different set of responsibilities to me, but being the head doesn’t mean life is easier for him!
Biblical marriage dynamics really work - yes, even in the 21st century!
I must be giving off a very conservative flavour right now, but that does not make me “alt-right”, in fact, I’m actually on the “crunchy” side of the fence, and while I strongly believe in Judeo-Christian family values, I’m a big tree-hugging, people-loving, hippy at heart. It’s just who I am. Peace, love and mung beans baby - with a side of communion wine!
People are amazing multi-faceted beings, and we should just stop with the judging. What, pray tell, would Jesus do?
A year of yes to a year of simplicity.
The past year cost me friends, it cost me some confidence here and there, it cost me trust in the current feminist movement (sadly), but I have hope that we can change our feelings about men and raising families. You can have it all, just perhaps - not all at the same time. Life is risky, and sometimes you have to put your trust in people - yes, even if they have a penis!
Fighting for women’s rights does not, and should not mean we have to despise housewives, traditional marriage, and indeed men (particularly those supporting their families) in order to believe in its cause.
I was born with a passion for family. I was born with a passion for homemaking. I was born with a respect for the differences between men and women, and I see the beauty in our individual strengths (and weaknesses). Not many people are brave enough to say that anymore. Yet it’s so simple. We are who we are, and we need to put down the pitchforks and learn to simply love.
Love to simply be a woman, and love to simply be a man. Men and women are different, and it’s ok to celebrate that fact.
This is simply loving, this is life, this is 35 and I’m here for it!
So for the next 365 days, it will be a year of simplicity. Of simply being myself, a woman, as God made me…
I will love and support my Adam, and grumble not that I have been made Eve.
You have been incredibly patient with me during my year of yes. One that I believe was pre-destined and ordained, “for a time such as this”, but it has distracted me somewhat from my passion of writing. I’m hoping that my year of simplicity will create the space and time needed to help me bear fruit.
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Affiliate links have been used in this post. Main photo credit Lowri Pendrell/Bitsy & Bloom 2019.