In a December 4, 2019 video, white nationalist and self-described “tradwife” Lacey Lauren Clark, who operates under the pseudonym “Lacey Lynn,” revealed that she recently spoke at a conference celebrating the tenth anniversary of the white nationalist podcast The Political Cesspool.
Clark, who joined the white nationalist hate group Identity Evropa in January 2019, said her speech was not recorded but that she “spoke on the traditional woman and her place in the fight for the future of her children.” She also claims to have met white nationalists like Going Free host Jason Köhne and Culture of Critique author Kevin MacDonald.
She said she wanted to share what she spoke about with viewers — namely, that she pines for 1950s America and holds television and movie characters up as ideal traditional women. And she places the blame for America’s decline — including higher divorce rates and use of prescription pills — on feminists and Marxists.
“So we have adultery and pills being glamorized and pushed onto our women,” Clark said. “The vessel for this is Marxist, feminist literature dating all the way back to the mid 1800s with the likes of the Declaration of Sentiments and the Communist Manifesto.”
The Declaration of Sentiments, signed in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention, was modeled after the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the need for women’s rights, including the right to vote.
Calling herself the “traditionalist and nationalist movement’s resident ’50s LARPer,” Clark gestured to two photos on the wall behind her of actresses Donna Reed and Barbara Billingsley. “I love those two women,” she said. “I do. They’re my heroes.” Apparently Clark is under the impression that the acting roles they took were genuine.
She praised the “housewives who survived the ’50s and ’60s suburbia without drinking the Kool-Aid of feminism,” and said that such women were “too busy to be oppressed.”
Busy doing what, you might ask? “They had to check Jane’s homework, bake a cake for the bake sale, stock the food pantry, and make dinner before her loving husband came home when they would have dinner together as a family at the table.”
Dismissing claims that this was just Leave It To Beaver-style fantasy, Clark insisted that the show’s matriarch, June Cleaver, was actually real — or at least that women like her existed. Clark claimed that in an “early 2000s” interview Billingsley she said she received fan mail from “people saying they lived just like the Cleavers.”
She also cited remarks by Billingsley herself that “her life was not unlike the show” because she had “traditional values” and two sons of her own. (On Leave It To Beaver there are two sons, Wally and Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver.)
But what’s comical about this isn’t that housewives with so-called “traditional values” existed in the ’50s and ’60s, but that Leave It To Beaver shows a fictionalized snapshot of 1950s living. The world of the Cleavers is one of racial homogeneity, where fathers eat dinner in suits and ties and everyday problems are solved in a half hour.
How many people who grew up in that era really lived that way? How much of people’s memories are influenced by nostalgia?
In Slate, Jason Feifer found that while many people long for the halcyon days of the 1950s, many people in the ’50s were disenchanted and “pointed to the ’20s as a better time.” People of the ’20s in turn longed for the 1800s, while people in the late 1800s wanted to return to the decades before the Civil War.
In fact, this trend of believing there was some golden age that humans must return to stretches back thousands of years to Mesopotamia and the invention of the written language.
And Leave It To Beaver didn’t depict real, ongoing struggles taking place in America — papering over real issues like desegregation or the Vietnam war or women’s rights. It aired its final episode a year before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended de jure segregation and two years before the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing contraceptives.
But to Clark, the civil rights movement and feminism ruined the otherwise idyllic ’50s and ’60s. Later in the video she blamed “Marxists” for destroying families and churches, and said that “[f]orced desegregation and busing of students in the 1960s along with the nation’s first open borders policy — the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 — eliminated the high-trust society.”
She also voiced her support for antiquated coverture laws, which legally stripped away the personhood of married women. Coverture was a legal fiction whereby a husband and wife were viewed as the same entity, but with the husband having the sole right to contract and earn wages.
As Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black explained in his dissent in United States v. Yazell (1966), “This rule has worked out in reality to mean that, though the husband and wife are one, the one is the husband.” He also referred to it as an “archaic remnant of a primitive caste system.” (Justice Black interestingly voted to uphold Connecticut’s anti-contraception law in Griswold.)
So it is strange that the other “hero” Clark has a photo of is actress Donna Reed, whose filmography includes It’s a Wonderful Life and From Here to Eternity, the latter of which she played a sex worker named Alma. A New York Times obituary noted that she had “struggled to break out of the purity role,” and succeeded with From Here to Eternity for which she won an Oscar.
In 1958 she starred in and helped produce The Donna Reed Show, which lasted for eight seasons, and told an interviewer in 1964 that, “We have proved on our show that the public really does want to see a healthy woman, not a girl, not a neurotic, not a sexpot.”
She also criticized the roles actresses were often given in movies, remarking that, “I just wouldn’t do the junk I was offered. I didn’t like the way films were treating women. Most of the roles were extremely passive – women in jeopardy, poor stupid souls who couldn’t help themselves.”
Although she was a “lifetime Republican,” Reed was vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1970 she became the Beverly Hills co-chairwoman of Another Mother for Peace and spoke at a rally for Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy, who campaigned on an anti-war platform. Reed said she was afraid her two sons might be sent to “Vietnam to fight in a war I don’t believe in.”