Late last month, the state of Florida was struck by one of the deadliest hurricanes in almost 100 years. Hurricane Ian traveled up the southeastern seaboard of the U.S., inflicting damage primarily on Florida and the Carolinas. TikTok users watched in horror as Florida residents who chose to ride out Ian gave the rest of the country a vivid account of the hurricane’s destructive power. After Ian passed, the dedicated TikTokers continued to watch as Floridians posted scenes of life in the wake of this intense hurricane. Surprisingly, a new disaster emerged in the “Hurricane Ian” algorithm — a conflict that pits women against women, blue-collar families against hurricane survivors and linewives against bucket bunnies.
If you didn’t understand that last reference, here is some key vocabulary that you’ll need in order to follow the saga. A linewife is the wife (or sometimes girlfriend) of a lineman. A lineman is a worker who maintains the electrical grid, whether it be by installing electrical systems, supporting the current grid or, in this case, conducting emergency repairs after natural disasters. Linemen, or really, lineworkers, are the vital community workers that you often see in giant trucks with a crane that lifts them in a bucket to reach power lines. And from this, we get the term “bucket bunny,” which refers to a woman who intentionally seeks out the company of linemen regardless of the lineman’s relationship status.
If this story has a hero, it’s going to be the TikTok algorithm that allowed viewers outside the disaster zone to access even the most trivial of topics. The “linewife versus bucket bunny” chronicle emerged from the ruins of Ian after TikTok user @emilhosein1 posted a video showing her Tinder feed in the wake of the hurricane. Flipping through the pictures, it appeared as though the linemen had come to Florida to fix the damaged power lines and restore electricity to citizens.
Immediately after her video went viral, a new narrative arose from the destruction of Ian: The linewives had something to say. Most notably, user @katlin_marie seemed pretty upset that women would even consider a relationship with a taken lineman considering all the struggles that linewives endure. But user @effaniehams took a more humorous approach, featuring tips on how to take care of her lineman husband and asking to be alerted when he heads home so she can “hide the Amazon packages.” The linewives of TikTok uploaded video after video with their own takes on the bucket bunnies, and most of them are humorous and entertaining. The dramatic videos provided countless minutes of entertainment for those flipping through TikTok late at night — but in the sobering light of day, it’s time to analyze just what is going on here.
Being a linewife seems to be an identity that women take very seriously. Plenty of Facebook groups are dedicated to helping each other through the difficulties of being a linewife, and a website available exclusively to linewives offers emotional support, as well as merch. Taking on the identity of your husband’s job, however odd that may be, does not seem to be limited to the lineworker profession.
From the wreckage of the current drama on TikTok came support from other groups of wives. For example, user @ohmtee posted a video with the “Hunger Games” whistle, holding up three fingers and indicating that the pipeline wives were siding with Team Linewives. In the video, she references “row hoes,” which are women who chase after the workers that lay down America’s piping infrastructure. Upon further investigation, it seems that there is a multitude of names for women who chase down certain professions: badge bunnies are women who pursue police officers, cleat chasers are interested in baseball players, fireflies are attracted to firemen, etc. And, perhaps surprisingly, it is often other women who are behind the creation of the degrading names.
But do these loose, uniform-chasing women even exist? Do some women exclusively date inside a certain profession, despite the marriage status of their targets? To most people, that probably sounds ridiculous. It comes down to the most basic fact of human biology; humans are attracted to other humans. The bucket bunnies of Florida did not access a linemen-only website when they made these montages of available men in their area — they used Tinder. Tinder touts itself as the “World’s Most Popular Dating App” and claims to have made 65 billion matches. The original commentary reflected the new Tinder options for Floridian women, not the women’s desires to exclusively bed married linemen.
What would even be the end game for these alleged bucket bunnies? Surely, almost nothing is in it for them. Even subscribing to the darkest of fears of linewives — that their lineman would fall in love with a bucket bunny and leave them bearing the weight of the household — what’s in it for the bucket bunny? A cheating man with a sizable alimony and child support obligations? Tinder has never had the reputation of making compatible, lifelong matches; it’s always been about hookups. To that end, by posting these videos of all the linemen on Tinder, isn’t that more of a service to the linewives? Better to know what your husband is doing behind your back than not, right?
While this current TikTok trend has satisfied the insatiable appetite for spectating on other people’s messes, the most frustrating narrative that has come out of it is pitting women against each other. The bucket bunny is not the enemy of the linewife, just like a mistress is not the enemy of a wife. It may be frustrating that a woman would engage with a married man, but there are only two people who made vows to each other — and the bucket bunny isn’t one of them. However, the linemen engaging in illicit relationships outside of their marriages have rarely been held accountable. No matter the career of your partner, the only one that owes you fidelity is your partner. I think it’s time we thank the bucket bunnies for their service in outing the men who are willing to leave their worried wives at home and use it as an opportunity to hop on Tinder.