Monday, March 15, 2010
Jennifer Mendelsohn wrote an article in the New York Times on mom bloggers, called Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand. I thought about writing a parody about journalists in response to it. But then I reconsidered. I realized that I do not need to diminish others in order to prove my own worth.
There are good journalists and there are bad journalists. There are journalists who do nothing more than turn around stuff written by public relations staff and there are journalists who do investigative journalism and cross-check their sources. There are journalists who write about things I consider frivolous and boring and there are journalists who write about issues I think are of critical importance.
The same is true in the blogging world. The blogs that I find interesting, intriguing, thought provoking or therapeutic, someone else might find boring, stupid or threatening. The blogs other people find interesting, I may find boring, frivolous or unethical corporate shills.
We are a diverse community. Diverse enough that there are moms who write about making crafts, tutus, felt food, or slings. There are moms who write about natural birth, potty training, sleep, and postpartum depression. There are also moms who write about corporate ethics, politics, feminism, health care issues, nutrition, social media, and more.
I don't think it is any more appropriate to poke fun at moms writing about teaching your baby to read or hiding vegetables in their children's food, than it would be for me to poke fun at journalists who think that this spring's latest lipstick shade or some celebrity's extramarital affairs are worth writing about (despite the fact that they make me yawn and roll my eyes). If there is an audience, it is worth writing about and in the world of blogs, there doesn't even need to be an audience for it to be worthwhile since just the therapeutic act of getting your thoughts down on the screen may be enough for some bloggers.
So when Jennifer Mendelsohn wrote an article peppered with mommy stereotypes in a tone that seemed to belittle the work of mom bloggers (although I hope and suspect that isn't what she intended to do), it is no wonder that there was a rash of protest. Every writer chooses the wrong words sometimes. I know I do. But I don't have an editing team to catch me before things go public. The New York Times does and this article should not have been printed without some significant revisions.
Here are some of the fabulous voices on this article, ones that demonstrate a thousand times over the greatness of moms who blog:
- Newspaper Bias Against Mom Bloggers (Kelby Carr): Kelby (also known as Type A Mom) writes about the condescending and insulting tone the article uses to describe mom bloggers. She points out that mom blogging is an industry, not just "something we cute adorable widdle mommies do to share diaper stories" and that there are a number of reasons why we are being marginalized by traditional media.
- Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Writing a Mildly Annoyed Letter to the New York Times (Mom101): Liz suspects that Jennifer's intent probably wasn't to slight mom bloggers, but that many will not "get much past the opening snark, which continues to affirm all the negativity surrounding the word mommyblog." At the end of her post she links to some of the many diverse voices and issues that can be found in the mom blogging community.
- This is kyriarchy in action: the New York Times on "Mommy bloggers" (Raising My Boychick): Arwyn takes things beyond the analysis of Type A Mom and Mom 101 and addresses the fact that while some moms are being belittled in this article, others who don't fit the stereotype described in this article are being ignored altogether.
- Mommy is Busy Blogging (Motherlode): Lisa from NY Times very own mommy blog put up a brief post about the article. There isn't much to the post, but there is plenty to read in the comments if you are interested in a rather diverse set of opinions on this article.
- Don't Bother Mommy She's Rabid Right Now (Jessica Gottlieb): Jessica writes about the value of blog conferences like Bloggy Boot Camp and muses about what Lisa Belkin's (from NY Times Motherlode) thoughts on the article might be.
- An Open Letter to the New York Times About Mom Bloggers, Women Writings & the Universe (PunditMom): Joanne, one of my BlogHer 10 co-panelists, wrote that she is "so weary of [the New York Times] attempts to marginalize women writers online who happen to be mothers" that she almost didn't write her post, but she did because she wants to change the landscape so that her daughter won't have to fight the same battle we are fighting. She breaks down the language and content of the post and wonders whether primarily male-attended conferences would have received the same type of condescending coverage.
- NY Times Not So Mind Blowing Expose of the Mommy Bloggers (Momma in the Fog): Priscilla writes that the article seems a bit confuses as to what its point and angle is, but that ultimately it "shows how very unprogressive our thinking is these days if we are still unable to talk about female industriousness outside of the typical stereotypes -- the gold digger, the career 'bitch' and the vapid homemaker. Let's call someone a hooker and call it a day."
- NY Times Article About Mommy Bloggers (The Secret is in the Sauce): The organizers of Bloggy Boot Camp compiled a list of some of the posts about the New York Times article (some of which I've included here and others that I didn't have a chance to read yet).
- Thank you, NY Times, for reminding me why I blog (Sharing the Journey): The author of this blog about life after postpartum depression writes a sarcastic response to the article which completely overlooked many of the motives that she and other moms have for blogging.
- Why did you start blogging? My views on the New York Times article (Little Tech Girl): Little Tech Girl talks about how some moms have found a way to make some money online while still caring for their family and questions why "when dads bring home work, they are committed and career driven, when a mom does it, she is neglecting her family."
- An Australian Fringe Dweller (Good Goog): Zoey wrote that she is somewhat removed from the situation, as an Australian blogger, but that she found it off-putting nonetheless. She delves into some of the particularly colourful and not-so-helpful comments on the story.
- Excuse Me New York Times, Don't Bother Me. Because You're Absolutely Fucking Right, I'm Building My Brand (Uppercase Woman): Cecily writes about the New York Times history of marginalizing women writers and notes that even if they do not recognize their worth, companies do.
- Honey, Don't Bother Daddy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand (Hoyden About Town): Lauredhel does a genderflip of Mendelsohn's article, which clearly points out how ridiculous it sounds.
- Bette Nesmith Graham, Mommy Bloggers and the NY Times (The Smartmama): Jennifer tells the story of a "mommy" business later sold to a major corporation for $47.5 million. Can you guess which one? The point being that to dismiss and belittle this "diverse group of very powerful, very passionate, very invested, very active women" would be a huge mistake.
- A Blog of One's Own (Child Wild): Sierra, who also responded to the article in a post on Babble's Stroller Derby, writes about the hard work mom bloggers do and the difference they are making in the world.
- She is Vast, And She Contains Multitudes (Her Bad Mother): Catherine writes about how the important advocacy work she is doing for her sick nephew Tanner was belittled in the article, about how diverse mothers are, and also about the silliness of the big (male-dominated) SXSW conference that she just attended.
- Tear Down that Wall? (Work. Life. Balance): Chrysula writes about the expectation that we will have clearly delineated lines between our professional and personal lives and about the trend away from that towards a more integrated life.
Rather than just complaining, I'd like to put a challenge out. Is there a journalist who would like to write an article for a mainstream paper that would present a balanced view of mom bloggers? Or is there a mainstream paper out there that would like a writer who could write one (because I know a few people who could take that on). Let me know.