Putting the mommy bloggers in their place

It’s not the content of this piece that’s making me feel like someone just shamed me for daring to write about parenting. The headline of this piece, Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy.  I’m Too Busy With My Blog and Building My Brand does a not so subtle job of telling mothers who actually work for a living they are doing something wrong.

What’s strange about the hed, is that the rest of the piece was an accurate description of what goes on in the mommy blogger world. The way moms are making money and building an audience on the web and what PR and marketing people are focusing on and how the relationship works. All very civilized, with the exception of this graf that makes fun of baby names and assumes that work-at-home moms are just looking for some “latte money.”

Whereas so-called mommy blogs were once little more than glorified electronic scrapbooks, a place to share the latest pictures of little Aidan and Ava with Great-Aunt Sylvia in Omaha, they have more recently evolved into a cultural force to be reckoned with. Embellished with professional graphics, pithy tag lines and labels like “PR Friendly,” these blogs have become a burgeoning industry generating incomes ranging from $25 a month in what one blogger called “latte money” to, for a very elite few, six figures.

via Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy With My Blog and Building My Brand. – NYTimes.com.

Let’s just reverse the gender and change the occupation to environmentalist. Would the headline read “Honey, Don’t Bother Daddy. I’m Too Busy With My Tree Saving and Ozone Rebuildling?” So. What occupation should a mom have that won’t get her made fun of in a national publication?

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16 Responses to Putting the mommy bloggers in their place

  1. One that doesn’t include people who do it for $25 a month latte money, obviously.

  2. Matthew Greenberg says:

    April,
    I’m glad you wrote about this — I was surprised at the snarky tone to the article, particularly given that it was written by a woman who considers herself to be part of the “mom-blogger” cohort.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      Right? Some self-loathing going on perhaps? “I do this, but I’m not like them…”

      Totally bizarre.

  3. kurtfawnigat says:

    “So. What occupation should a mom have that won’t get her made fun of in a national publication?”

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the question. Blogging is an occupation?

    • April Peveteaux says:

      Yes, Kurt. I’m a writer. That’s my profession. Some of the things I write (and get paid to write) are blog posts. I’m a mom. I write a lot about parenting. I’ve been an editor at an online parenting magazine, a blog editor, a staff writer and a blogger. I’m a professional, but the implication you (and the headline of this article) are making is that it’s not a “real” job because I happen to be a mom. That’s sexist b.s.

      • facility says:

        I think sexist b.s. is to call yourself a “mommy blogger”. You are a professional, so be a professional, write about what you wanna write be it your paarental experience or steel production or politics, it’s your choice. But callimg yoursekf a “mommy blogger” just because you happen to be a mom – that is b.s.

      • April Peveteaux says:

        I don’t call myself a “mommy blogger”, facility. I also don’t call myself a “mommy” because, well, that would weird. And yes, infantilizing, as Caitlin says below. I call myself a writer.

  4. Maybe the problem is the word “mommy.” Put that in front of any profession and it immediately becomes harder to take seriously. Mommy engineer? Mommy archeologist? Maybe you should call yourselves maternal-affairs specialists.

  5. Caitlin Kelly says:

    Lewis has a point…The very word “mommy” (or is it meant to be self-mocking?) seems infantilizing, no?

  6. Pingback: This feminist’s dilemma, and a side of rant about mommy blogging… « Blog, by Shannon

  7. Chris Thomas says:

    I think a fair amount of the condescension directed towards “Mommy Bloggers” is due to the fact that their relevancy as writers is predicated upon the very thing they’re *not* doing when they’re writing… parenting.

    I don’t begrudge women a place in the workforce or the blogosphere (or whatever we’re calling it in 2010) for that matter, but their’s is a special subject.

    I write about politics. The nice thing is that, while I’m writing, the Republican Party isn’t likely to go off and stick a hair-pin into a light-socket and get its first lesson about how electricity seeks ground.

    Obviously Mom can’t have her eyes on little-bit 100% of the time, but if criticism like this strikes a nerve, invest in a few hours of daycare so you (generic you… this isn’t directed at anyone in particular) can “build your brand” or whatever. Maybe that’s a good use for that “Latte Money.”

    There’s no gender double-standard here. If daddy brings a kid to the office he’s probably going to come up short in either the business or parenting department too. The problem is that mommy-blogging is selecting for the folks who are doing well as bloggers… which makes folks wonder what kind of parents they must be.

    • April Peveteaux says:

      Chris, why aren’t men being condemned for “not parenting” when they go to work?

      • Chris Thomas says:

        Because their qualifications and relevancy in the workplace aren’t predicated upon their role as parents.

        Think of it this way. If I’m a barista at Starbucks and I maintain, while I’m not at work, a blog about how to make amazing coffee then that’s fine. If I maintain it while I am at work, that’s another matter altogether. My blog about making amazing coffee is keeping me from making coffee.

        Certainly there are mommy-bloggers who aren’t neglecting their kids for their blog. Then again, there almost certainly are some who are doing exactly that.

        So why do they get condemned? Because they have a job – a job they write about no less – and they aren’t doing it; they’re writing instead.

        And on that note, I should get back to work 😉

      • April Peveteaux says:

        With that analogy, a barista apparently can’t do more than one thing. Make coffee or write about it, but not both! Um, that’s crazy.

        If you’ve read many parenting writers you would also see that most of then aren’t advice-driven, telling people what they should be doing with their children. Some are, some aren’t. When President Obama writes an Op-Ed about health care does that mean he’s neglecting his job as President? It just doesn’t wash.

        As I’ve said in previous posts, if more men wrote about parenting, parenting issues would start being taken a lot more seriously. I believe you just proved my point.

      • Heather Ross says:

        It’s as if Chris has never heard of nap time, school time, or for that matter, day care.

  8. dreamking says:

    I read the NYT article. The author probably doesn’t know whether to take herself seriously. Certainly she thinks a number of other bloggers who happen to be moms – especially those with a pseudonym including ‘mommy’ – shouldn’t be taken as seriously as they are. Money makes things serious. The whole tupperware thing was a mental image she couldn’t get out of her head, it sounds like.

    A lot of the implicit condescension in Chris’ post may be wrapped around the loaded idea of a ‘part-time’ mom. He might also wish to avoid a potential diminution of the validity and brand of ‘political writer’ when there is no difference between what he and other self-publishing writers do.

    I think before you get the real problem of the double-standard you have to get through these other issues.

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