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Artillery Row

Hating women is not “trad”

Men and women have to work together for conservative goals to be achieved

2024 has only just begun and already the main question for conservatives has shifted from “what is a woman?” to “what is a woman allowed to wear?”. Several prominent right wing women have received a wave of backlash over dressing immodestly, giving new prominence to the term “tradthot.” 

The centre of the controversy was the US beer manufacturer Conservative Dad’s “Real Women of America” calendar. This featured a range of right wing women, with Riley Gaines in a bikini at the pool, Ashley St Clair in a bubbly bathtub and the Redheaded Libertarian wearing heels and holding a pie. The women posing in the calendar were branded as immodest, inappropriate, and unconservative. Some have even branded it as soft porn. 

However, is there any truth to that? Modesty is an at least somewhat subjective thing that varies depending on the place and culture. A bikini and underwear have the same amount of coverage, yet only one is acceptable to wear out in public. However, it would be hard to argue that a woman posing provocatively in a small bikini in a calendar targeted towards conservative dads is the pinnacle of traditionalism. Surely, as a conservative, sexuality should be reserved for your significant other?

The next target of this puritan crusade was a video of a woman, Isabella Maria DeLuca, baking a cake. What made this video controversial enough to receive over twelve million views? The fact that she has big breasts and the top was “too tight.” This led to the angry trad side of Twitter arguing that the video of her baking was sexual. 

However, as Lauren Chen pointed out, it’s hard to argue there would be any controversy around the video if DeLuca had smaller breasts. It is true that the video isn’t supposed to be a step-by-step guide on how to bake, but rather a cute video showcasing her interest. It has become a meme to note that whenever a woman takes a picture or video of something, she must be in it. But what’s the harm of that? She’s not trying to be sexual. She’s just being a woman.

The reason why conservative women are taking pictures of themselves baking or doing traditionally feminine activities is because it’s something they value and believe others should too. Conservatives should naturally see the positive aspects of promoting traditionally feminine tasks like making food or showcasing a traditionally feminine style of beauty. The conservative calendar girls present a relatively innocent form of femininity which, although perhaps somewhat tastelessly presented, represents actual womanhood.

The alleged existence of “tradthots”, and the moral panic surrounding them, shows how the conservative movement suffers from being a shell of its former self, without considered principles and values. Meaningful discourse drowns in pointless spite.  Conservatives will not be able to convince women of the virtue of being modest if they act like this towards women simply for being women.

The conversation on Twitter around women is antagonistic. There’s an idea that women should be punished for being sexually active or wanting attention online. Generally, the men talking about “bodycount” and women “hitting the wall” are indulging their own bitterness — or just revelling in the futile sadism of upsetting others.

I’m sceptical whether the average Deano cares if his missus is a virgin

Besides, the idea that it is an attempt to convince them to change their ways — a form of “tough love” — falls flat. I’m sceptical whether the average Deano cares if his missus is a virgin. Even the most famous pornstars, like Riley Reid, are married to successful and conventionally attractive men. Of course, this isn’t to say that women should aspire to be pornstars! Far from it. The point is that women aren’t going to be deterred from immodest behaviour by insults and fearmongering. They have to see an appealing alternative.

Furthermore, not enough of the conversation is focused on the men who are viewing and sexualising these women, creating a market for it in the first place. It’s not as though women are the ones buying the Conservative Dad calendar or, in general, following the “Tradthot” accounts. Conservatives, of all people, should know that consumers are not merely passive victims of the market. They have moral agency as well as the suppliers.

It’s time to take a deep breath and stop yelling at each other — a dynamic that can only make us look eccentric and antisocial to onlookers. Instead of attacking women for dressing immodestly, surely the productive approach would be to encourage such women to see the value in their femininity and why they should protect it.

Aside from sheer bitterness, the reason why so many people can’t see a video of a young woman baking without losing their minds is because of how prevalent the pornographication of society has become. However, instead of questioning whether the general approach to sexuality and modesty have fallen foul of pornography and a culture of promiscuity, we have instead placed the onus on the women simply going about their day. 

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