- TikToks about men comparing their “vanilla wives” to more kinky past partners are suddenly everywhere.
- A vanilla wife “lays flat on her back like a starfish” during sex “for the entire two minutes,” said one poster.
- Critics say the “imaginary competition” between women for male validation is problematic.
An influx of videos denigrating so-called “vanilla wives” has spurred a discussion about internalized misogyny and kink on TikTok this week.
The anti-“vanilla wife” TikToks are mostly modeled off of a since-deleted video by @cosmic3londe, which shows a woman giving a thumbs-up gesture as on-screen text reads: “May not be the girl you end up with, but you’ll probably think of me when you fuck your vanilla wife.” (The video can still be viewed in stitched replies).
Similar TikToks further fleshed out the “vanilla wife” mythos. Phrased as though addressed to an ex-partner, posters describe a “high maintenance” woman saddled with a “boring ass marriage” and uneventful, though low-lift, evenings. She “sits at home and waits for you to get home all day,” sits down for a “silent dinner,” and then “lays flat on her back like a starfish for the entire two minutes before you go to sleep facing opposite directions.” There is not much chit-chat, let alone lust, in the domain of a “vanilla wife.”
The women making these TikToks frame themselves as foils to these “vanilla” women, presenting themselves as more adventurous and memorable sexual partners. They’re the momentary escape from a man’s boring marriage.
Critics have pointed out that this framing creates “an imaginary competition” between two women — the wife and the poster — for a man’s validation.
“This brand of ‘pick me’ behavior is particularly delusional and bothersome,” TikToker Victoria de Vall (@victoriadevall) said in a December 10 stitch, “because they project their desperation to be chosen and picked by this man, who has moved on, onto the woman that he has actually chosen.”
“All I read and all I see when I see that post or a post like that is: ‘I am so desperate for this man’s validation, I feel so low about myself — that I am going to enter into an imaginary competition with the woman he actually wants and fantasize that he actually will subconsciously be thinking about me or want me one day,'” she continued.
Others, like TikToker Courtney Alvarado (@alvaradocourtney), criticize the “vanilla wife” videos for implying a woman’s worth in marriage is “based off of what she will/won’t do in bed” and asked women to “stop centering their lives and intentions around how to attract men.”
“It also suggests that a peaceful relationship equals boring, which is absolutely not the case,” one user commented.
TikToker @jordanatheresa told viewers in a December 10 TikTok that framing “vanilla sex” as boring can set a “dangerous precedent,” where women set their sexual preferences around pleasing men rather than exploring their own sexual desires.
She also encouraged women who cast themselves as foils to the “vanilla wife” to interrogate whether they were falling prey to internalized misogyny.
“If you’re only talking about [kinks] in the context of men enjoying them — so, for example, ‘I’m so kinky, he’s going to be fantasizing about me when he’s with his boring vanilla wife,” she told viewers, “then maybe you should question whether you want to partake in kink because you actually enjoy it — which is a real thing, I enjoy it — or whether you want to partake in kink because you think men will like it and it will make you ‘not like the other girls,’ and you sort of are getting off on the fantasy of a man still fantasizing about you years after the fact when he’s with his boring vanilla wife.”
In response, TikTokers have started identifying themselves as either current vanilla wives or hopefuls.
Some oppositional videos struck a serious tone, with “vanilla wives” noting that they didn’t mind if their partner had dated someone “freakier” in the past because they didn’t value themselves “based on their sex appeal.”
Others were more playful. TikTokers joked about the perceived leisure of the “vanilla wife” lifestyle or shared clips of lighthearted moments of non-sexual intimacy with their husbands — like a self-described “vanilla wife” whose partner was pretending to eat her socks while she’s “in the ER at 3 am.”
Some say that when women pit the “freaky ex” against the “vanilla wife,” it’s women, in general, that lose. “This whole “vanilla wife vs freaky ex” is just the Madonna-whore complex but re-labeled,” wrote one TikToker in an on-screen caption.
“They’d rather get a pat on the head from those in charge than actually change the system so they can be in charge too,” another comment read.
“Honestly, arguing over whose getting picked by a man is so embarrassing,” commented one TikToker.
“We are not passing the Bechdel test like this💀,” wrote another.
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