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BBC slammed for “laundering” white supremacist propaganda in a profile of a #TradWife

#tradwife submitting to white nationalist ideology (artist’s conception)

By David Futrelle

Is the BBC broadcasting white nationalist propaganda?

That’s the question on a lot of people’s minds after the network ran a profile of a self-described “tradwife” by the name of Alena Kate Pettitt who believes in staying at home and “submitting” to her man like it’s 1959. When she’s not doing chores or cooking up a meal for her hubby she’s promoting a somewhat performative version of her lifestyle on her YouTube channel “The Darling Academy.”

It’s all meant to look and sound very wholesome and innocent; Pettitt presents the #tradlife as something that brings her and other women “a sense of belonging, and home, and quaintness.” as she tells the BBC.

But the “underground movement” of militant stay-at-home-wives and mothers she’s a part of turns out to be lousy with alt-Nazis and other white nationalists — as a number of critics were quick to point out on Twitter, among them historian Mike Stuchbery and social media researcher Becca Lewis.

Even a cursory investigation of the hashtags #tradwife and #tradlife — which Pettitt and others use to promote the movement on Twitter — reveals not only photos of delicious-looking (and sometimes not-so-delicious-looking) home-cooked meals and fresh-picked vegetables and fruits from the garden, but also a great deal of very explicit white nationalism. Here’s a small sampling:

https://twitter.com/CygnusWhite/status/1219435486357401600

In a recent tweet highlighted in the BBC report, Pettitt purports to be shocked — shocked! — to discover Nazis lurking about in a movement she says is all about a “wholesome, vintage dynamic” rather than racism.

But I don’t buy the innocent act; the hashtags #tradlife and #tradwife are positively crawling with Nazis and assorted other white nationalists; she can’t have possibly missed it. And even if at one point she was ignorant of all this, she can’t claim to be now. She could choose to promote the stay-at-home-wife lifestyle without the alt-right hashtags. But she hasn’t.

That’s her right, but she shouldn’t be surprised if people see her as a white nationalist, or at the very least an enabler of white nationalism. As they say, if there are three Nazis sitting at a table and you sit down with them, there are now four Nazis.

The real question is why the BBC has decided to sit down with these people. Sure, the report notes that the movement she’s a part of is steeped in hate, but they take her denial of racism at face value, and don’t bother to challenge any of her other assertions about the alleged superiority of her lifestyle.

The BBC profile presents her life as freeing and even sort of glamorous, in a homey, retro kind of way — and it certainly doesn’t hurt that she’s young, conventionally attractive, and articulate-sounding, with a smooth delivery that belies the nonsensical nature of much of what she’s actually saying. The BBC producers mostly just let her talk, ignoring any of the possible downsides of her life, ans not even bothering to bring up the rather basic fact that the majority of women, like the majority of men, “choose” to work largely because they have to.

The piece ends with her celebrating the “selflessness” of the #tradwife lifestyle — and putting down the “selfishness” of those women who she thinks don’t “invest” as much in their husbands and families because they work. The BBC offers no challenge to this wrongheaded comparison; they let this white-supremacist-enabler have the literal last word.

That’s really not good enough.

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Michael Wade
Michael Wade
8 months ago

[a “wholesome, vintage dynamic” rather than racism]

Is exactly how I perceived the entire BBC bit, except the thought of racism never entered my mind at any point, and I couldn’t see anything wrong with the depicted lifestyle if that’s the way they choose to live. I’m not sure I’d want to live exactly the same way, but it does seem appealing on many levels. I miss the days of knowing the neighbors, coming home before the streetlights came on, and dinner around a table with actual conversation instead of isolation while staring at screens. The knee jerk negative reactions reek of attention seeking sensationalism and further dilute the effectiveness of future claims of oppression that actually have merit.

Despairing of the Future
Despairing of the Future
8 months ago

It’s pretty common to find the BBC talking to whack-a-loons of all stripes. A couple of their reporters are plain white-nationalists, but I think a lot of the others mean well, but are under a rush to make deadlines. The US media is the same. OTOH the BBC science reporting seems first rate, unlike the US media which seems mostly worthless.

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Michael Wade

Is exactly how I perceived the entire BBC bit, except the thought of racism never entered my mind at any point

Then you clearly did not do the 5 seconds of googling required or just reading the article to show that #TradWife is a white supremacist dogwhistle.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

I miss the days of knowing the neighbors, coming home before the streetlights came on, and dinner around a table with actual conversation instead of isolation while staring at screens.

You can actually get to know your neighbors and implement family dinners with no cell phones allowed without embracing racism and misogyny.

Catalpa
Catalpa
8 months ago

[a “wholesome, vintage dynamic” rather than racism]

Is exactly how I perceived the entire BBC bit, except the thought of racism never entered my mind at any point

Which is a failure of the reporting, because as demonstrated on this very blog post, #TradWife and #TradLife are deeply intertwined with white supremacist advocates and ideals.

If we’re not allowed to identify the the people tweeting the 14 words as white supremacists because this will dilute “real” claims of oppression, what exactly are these “real” claims of oppression supposed to be? Are we only supposed to oppose white supremacy after they commit violent hate crimes? That’s too late for their victims, isn’t it? Or is that the whole point of your little whinge about “overreactions”?

Michael
Michael
8 months ago

@naglfar

Maybe my American ears are not in tune with said “dogwhistle” and I only saw the face value of the point I believe she was trying to make? Like when random “ok” hand gestures are ripped for being a white supremacist secret code… I don’t buy it in most contexts which was my point, the context is being fabricated just because that’s what some like to do… Are there a sect that truly has terribly wrong motives? Of course, I just don’t see it here and find it dangerously dilutes other arguments against warranted parties.

TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
8 months ago

@Despairing of the Future

OTOH the BBC science reporting seems first rate, unlike the US media which seems mostly worthless.

Credit where it’s due I suppose: at least it gives actual, informative science to people.

But I feel prudence is important to make sure that the BBC doesn’t pull crap like this again. It better start working hard at redeeming itself and showing some accountability because I don’t want a source of actual, properly informative science by tainted and overshadowed by white supremacist ideology and racist bigotry.

Makroth
Makroth
8 months ago

@Michael

Let me know when nazis stop supporting her, the way they stopped supporting Taylor Swift. IF that ever happens, i, personally, will apologize for making any bad assumptions about her.

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Michael

the context is being fabricated just because that’s what some like to do

Read the article. The context is pretty clearly there. Not sure what part is fabricated. Even the video has some tacit admissions.

Are there a sect that truly has terribly wrong motives?

Yes. White supremacists truly do have terribly wrong motives. They’d like me and millions of others dead.

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
8 months ago

Maybe my American ears are not in tune with said “dogwhistle”

Nothing to do with your nationality, it has more to do with the fact that you never looked into this dogwhistle, or thought about it for a second.

‘Trad’ in the hashtag means ‘traditional’, and that means VERY restrictive gender roles.

That isn’t ‘simpler’, and most families honestly can’t afford to have someone stay at home full time. (Sometimes it’s cheaper to be a caregiver than pay for daycare, but that’s a different problem.)

Also, why should we force people to do things they don’t want to do? Why do we force women to stay at home and have/take care of children? Why are we forcing men to go to work? Why are these gender roles so set in stone???

I only saw the face value of the point I believe she was trying to make?

Then you didn’t understand what she was saying.

Do you believe the surface level of everything? Do you believe what advertisements say implicitly? Do you believe that a prince somewhere needs you to give him your bank account info so you can get lots of money?

Chances are, you *know* there is something more going on with all of those examples, because you are a (presumed) adult human.

Like when random “ok” hand gestures are ripped for being a white supremacist secret code…

Yeah, that was a weird one. It started off as a ‘joke’, and much like ‘ironic nazi-ing’, then became less of a joke as actual white supremacists started to use the hand signal.

I don’t buy it in most contexts which was my point, the context is being fabricated just because that’s what some like to do…

BOY HOWDY I SURE DO LOVE THOSE (((SOROS BUCKS))) I KEEP GETTING FOR FABRICATING CONTEXT!

This is bullshit, friend. The white supremacy of the Tradwife/tradlife tag isn’t being fabricated by ‘some people’, it’s what is there. Browse it, but first educate yourself on dogwhistles.

I can give you a start, frog emoticons = pepe, a stolen icon for the alt-right.

Are there a sect that truly has terribly wrong motives?

Yes? In that they all are steeped in white supremacy? It’s like that old saying, if you have three nazis at a table, and a fourth person sits down, you now have four nazis at the table.

Of course, I just don’t see it here

Really, my dude? From a tweet linked above –

White people have accomplished great things, and will continue to do so, under the banner of the black sun. We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. #14Words #TradLife #MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/4YppxOYStJ

Do you not know what the 14 words are? That’s another dog whistle, btw, this one for literal nazi-ism.

Again, from above –

Wishing you all a WHITE hometown winter. Out of the current chaos we shall create a new natural order of things. Our visions will carry us through. Positive + heart-warming visions create a positive future. Ranting & raving won’t. So be a winner and lead the #TradLife. #NatSoc pic.twitter.com/JOF8KOy8qY

NATSOC! Do you see it now?

and find it dangerously dilutes other arguments against warranted parties.

“Oh no! If you start calling out all of the white supremacists, they won’t be able to hide in plain sight any more! They might suffer consequences for their actions! Won’t some please think of the poor white supremacists????”

What’s your scale, for when we get to call things out? Because using the hash tag ’14 words’ is a pretty low bar to clear here, friend, and they did that.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

One can be forgiven for not immediately knowing something is a dogwhistle. That’s literally why it’s called a dogwhistle, because only certain people hear it. But when people who do know the dogwhistle point it out, either believe them or research for yourself. Don’t stay willfully ignorant.

The BBC however, does get to claim ignorance because it’s the job of journalists to do basic research on the subject they’re covering.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
8 months ago

Yey; I’m on topic for once!

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/jan/27/tradwives-new-trend-submissive-women-dark-heart-history

Well, I assume so. I haven’t actually read the article.

Catalpa
Catalpa
8 months ago

@Michael

Of course, I just don’t see it here and find it dangerously dilutes other arguments against warranted parties.

Would you mind explicitly defining what you mean by “warranted parties”? Because I’m having a hard time imagining very many more obviously hateful groups than the folks who are literally spouting Nazi talking points.

Michael
Michael
8 months ago

@catalpa

I was referring to the wife in video.

@everyone else… I get it, I really do and do not in anyway support white supremacists. My point was I didn’t see anything wrong with the message she was intending to send. I watched, and moved on… Thanks for the education though, I am always happy to learn new things, I’ll be more aware if ever I come across this trad thing again.

kupo
kupo
7 months ago

My point was I didn’t see anything wrong with the message she was intending to send.

The dog whistle was the message she was intending to send. But even her surface level message is trash and completely misogynistic, so miss me with that bullshit that there’s nothing wrong with it.

Naglfar
Naglfar
7 months ago

Sort of related grammar question that just occurred to me:
The adjective form of the noun “racist” is still “racist,” not “racistic.” Why is the adjective form of the noun “misogynist” “misogynistic” and not just “misogynist”?

Catalpa
Catalpa
7 months ago

@Naglfar

I’m not sure why, but from the examples I can think of, it seems to be based on syllable count?

Racist, sexist, ageist, all two syllables.
Misogynistic and antisemitic are more than two syllables, by contrast, and they get the -ic added to them.

Alternatively, race and sex and age are all things that people are, while misogyny and antisemitism is something that people have?

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
7 months ago

@ Michael –

Kupo’s got the right of it!

It doesn’t matter if you missed the dog whistle or not, this is literally what the screen looks like when you go to that page –

comment image

Search the hashtag ‘#tradwife’ on social media and you’ll see images of cooked dinners and freshly-baked cakes with captions like, “A woman’s place is in the home” or “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman”.

So we’ve got the strict gender roles RIGHT IN THE TEXT.

The NEXT PARAGRAPH says:

The term ‘tradwife’ is particularly controversial because of its associations with the far right, especially in the United States. But many self-described tradwives reject that association.

So it isn’t even like the BBC is hiding the dog whistle (it seems like they just aren’t pushing back against it in the video).

You said

My point was I didn’t see anything wrong with the message she was intending to send.

So know I figure that you also don’t see anything wrong with women being forced to stay home, and be subservient wives. I mean, how else do we take that statement??

SOME women might enjoy that, but NOT ALL.

If you honestly don’t see the connection between “all women should be forced to be homemakers/mothers, that is a woman’s natural place” and “I don’t see anything wrong with her message” then you have some introspection to do!!!