Want to be a #tradwife? You might as well be Cinderella

PUBLISHED: 16:58 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 20 January 2020

Cinderella, Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime 2019/20. Picture: Richard Jarmy Photography

Cinderella, Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime 2019/20. Picture: Richard Jarmy Photography

A new trend on Twitter #tradwife, argues that women are much happier as housewives. Does this mean we all secretly want to be Cinderella? Liz Nice suggests not.

I went to see Cinderella at Norwich Theatre Royal with my sons at the weekend.

I really enjoyed it. Buttons (Joe Tracini) was hilarious and brilliant - he made me cry too with his sad little song about loneliness on his ukele - and Baron Hardup's (David Gant) scene stealing was worth the (very reasonable) ticket price alone.

I love pantomimes and adore all the traditions: the slapstick sequences, the one in Norwich was one of the best I've seen, the Dame (Richard Gauntlett) leading a singsong, and I even laughed at the sly asides about my team, Ipswich Town!

But something struck me about the story of Cinderella itself when viewed in the 21st century.

The ugly sisters, played with relish by Amanda Henderson from Casualty and Alix Dunmore, were, to be quite honest, bullies.

The way they treat their sister Cinderella (Kara-Lianne Jones) is appalling. Making her go all the way to King's Lynn to buy hobnobs, for example! OK, that was vaguely funny, but it wasn't remotely amusing watching
them ripping up her late
mother's dress and forcing her to destroy her own invitation to the ball.

Naturally, the audience boos them at every turn, but this was the first time when watching Cinderella that I found myself thinking, either this is an opportunity to talk to my children about how despicable such behaviour is, or it's a chance to drill into them the vital importance of standing up for oneself.

As the show went on, I became increasingly irritated by Cinders' complete failure, at every point, to fight her own corner. When she was ripping up her own ball ticket, I wanted to shout, "For heaven's sake! You can say no!"

The biggest cheer of the night was when Baron Hardup finally told the ugly sisters to "shut up!", but Cinderella ends up winning her princely prize (EastEnders' David Witts) at the end without ever doing so.

Is getting a man really more important than your own self respect? I guess we women have been wrestling with that question for years!

Maybe I'm having a complete sense of humour failure here, but isn't it time to give Cinderella a bit more guts? Or would that ruin it for everybody?

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I'd be interested to know your thoughts and this is no criticism of the show at all - in fact, I'm rather glad it made me think about these issues so much.

I also hope that there were other people in the audience, perhaps in relationships in which their own every hope and need is trampled on, who went home with a little
bit of an "I'm not putting up
with that any more" attitude as a result.

I certainly left the theatre wondering what sort of wife Cinderella would make if she spent her entire life doing as she was told.

No wonder the Prince was so chuffed to get her is all I can say! But I know that kind of marriage wouldn't be much of a happy ending for her, that's for sure.

Why in 2020 are there more and more women wanting to be 'tradwives'?

Speaking of women doing as they're told, a new trend on Twitter is #tradwife, a movement of women who believe the
greatest happiness is to be found in female domesticity and that a woman is born to be a wife and mother.

Key influences of the trend include American author Helen Andelin, whose 1963 book Fascinating Women taught that "subordination" was the key to a happy marriage.

Modern advocate Alena Kate Pettit, who runs a femininity vlog called The Darling School, is a firm advocate of the joys of homemaking and argues that your husband should come first and "should know this". (I suspect he is not in any doubt).

I have no issue with Pettit's claim that "feminism is about choice" and if being a housewife is all you've ever dreamed of, while I can't imagine lacking so much imagination myself, all power to you.

But how can anybody be happy entirely subordinating their own needs and desires to those of others?

It's not much of a leap from martyrdom to resentment, and eventually there will come a point when husband is questioning why his pants aren't ironed and children are up in their rooms with headsets on shouting for their tea when you will realise that nobody has asked how you are since 2003.

At this point, I wonder perhaps if husband, who long ago stopped thinking of you as anything other than a handy skivvy, will take one look at your face like thunder and start looking around for someone a bit more cheerful while you sit alone in your perfect kitchen and realise that you have absolutely nothing to do.

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