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The Coquette-to-Tradwife Pipeline: Why Does it Happen?

For many, fashion is more than just clothes; fashion is a statement, a declaration of a particular trend, lifestyle, or culture. Micro-communities within the fashion world often share similar beliefs, and that’s no different when it comes to fans of the “coquette” aesthetic–a hyper-feminine, idyllic style where short skirts, laces, and silk blouses are gospel. Ariana Grande and Sydney Sweeney are the women you’d find on a coquette’s inspo board. 

But a disturbing social media-fueled pipeline has arisen from this community, where coquettish girls are being lured into the aesthetically-similar world of tradwives or traditional wives. The tradwife ideology is a dangerously deceptive one that may appear innocent on the surface but, in reality, peddles pastoral, white supremacist fantasies of submissive women and the essentialism of a patriarchal hierarchy. 

To be clear, I take no issue with the coquette style in and of itself. Hyperfeminine fashion is nothing new, but the particular communities surrounding these niche internet-born aesthetics are. In the age of social media, these communities often have overlap, and that’s a major reason why the coquette-to-tradwife pipeline exists (if you want to be more specific, it’s more of a coquette-to-alt-right pipeline, but I find it important to highlight tradwives’ role in all of this). That’s why social media safety is key, especially for young girls.

 But let’s dig a little deeper into the world of tradwives. 

As I mentioned, the tradwife community is rooted directly in the alt-right movement. The movement’s emphasis on “tradition,” particularly concerning the expression of femininity (think 50’s housewife), really means an emphasis on (white) Western gender dynamics and the rejection of everything else. There’s a reason those in the tradwife community often rub shoulders with neo-Nazis online–their goals are one and the same, even if a tradwife isn’t acutely aware of it (but I’d wager most of them are). Frilly blog posts or TikToks about “releasing your divine feminine” in order to please one’s husband are a commonplace sight in this world, and the women making this kind of content are particularly adept at bringing young and naive coquettish girls right into their folds.

But why is recruitment so easy? 

The main strategy of white supremacists, especially online, is subtle recruitment. It starts slow, but white supremacy thrives when it grows. A tradwife may post “girly” memes or otherwise innocuous posts that engage (mostly white) feminine women before slowly peppering her content with increasingly racist bits of her ideology to be absorbed, post by post, into the minds of her female followers. Call her out on it, and she’ll likely deny it. If you’ve ever read about the memes-to-alt-right pipeline currently affecting young men and women, it’s the same concept. But what makes it so sinister is the supposed innocence of it–after all, a woman loving her husband isn’t a bad thing, right? SAHM wives deserve dignity, too, right? Sooner or later, these statements turn into matters of  “Why isn’t there a White Lives Matter?” and barrages of posts about why having white babies is important in “securing” a future for the white race. For many women involved in online coquette circles, this is the path they’re currently on. And as long as this pipeline is disguised under a harmless umbrella of aesthetics, the problem will continue to evolve.

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