November 25, 2013

Mommy Bloggers Don’t Write About Mommies

by

Mommy Blogger

Screencaps and annotation of USA Weekend and USA Today 11/24/2013

When you have a Ph.D., have starred in, not one but two, hit TV shows, written a best-selling book, and also happen to write articles that are published on a website geared toward Jewish-parenting how should you be described by a journalist? How best to explain who you are when the article is about a charity you’re supporting? Is it relevant that you’re on TV? Maybe. It’s your career and how you’re best identified. Possibly mention the Ph.D.? Perhaps. It’s pretty darn impressive. Mention you’re a best-selling author? Not sure, since it’s a parenting book. Or, home in on your online writing presence and call you a “mommy blogger”?

Normally I don’t let stuff like this get to me, but seeing Mayim Bialik described as a “mommy blogger” in the USA Weekend and on the USA Today website in a segment called “Cause Celeb” really bothered me.  See, women bloggers have, for the past few years, tried to shed the negative moniker “mommy bloggers”. It’s not a term of endearment, empowerment, or influence.

Written by Gayle Jo Carter, the Cause Celeb segment for USA Weekend is to highlight a celebrity and a charity they support. Great idea to share charities that our favorite celebrities are passionate about. Celebrities featured in “Cause Celeb” have included other actresses, actors, country music personalities, and a pro football player. For the most part, the bios are pretty basic – actor, country superstar, actress.

Surely, Ms. Carter must know that “mommy blogger” is not really a nice way to describe a woman who blogs about her parenting as a Jewish mother, especially one who has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and is a well-respected actress and author. And while I’m sure Ms. Bialik ranks parenting as her top priority, it’s not her writing for a Jewish parenting website that gives rise to the “celeb” part of “Cause Celeb”. I’m pretty sure no one calls her a “mommy journalist”, so why define Ms. Bialik as a “mommy blogger“? She wouldn’t dare call Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, a “mommy CEO”. So why “mommy blogger”? Is blogger not sufficient?

The title “mommy blogger” has never been a positive and empowering definition of who these women are. It was used as a way to let stay-at-home moms know that they’re not “real” bloggers like the millions of men writing about more important things like politics, music, art, and business, but rather someone to patronize for daring to write about something as low-brow as being a mom. Never a term meant to elevate, “mommy blogger” was a veiled put-down.

Calling women who blog “mommy bloggers” dismisses the contribution, background, and expertise they bring with them to the online landscape. It’s a cutesy way to put women in their place and remind them that while they may be writing about key issues of motherhood they’re not writing about “real” things such as tech, politics, or, well, pretty much anything else that doesn’t’ involve children and their upbringing. As if writing about parenting and women’s issues is somehow less worthy. This, despite the fact that so-called “mommy bloggers” are sought out for their expertise in parenting, dealing with and overcoming postpartum depression, giving a platform to women of all sizes to be seen as beautiful, creating communities for those who parent children with any host of special needs. And let’s not forget that these “mommy bloggers” are often the people reporters and journalists turn to when they need insider information about parenting, families, and issues affecting women and children.

We don’t use mommy as an adjective to clarify any other type of work. There is no “mommy lawyer” or “mommy doctor”. We don’t call them “mommy senators” or “mommy singers”. For centuries, women have been writing about parenting. If anything these women are parenting bloggers because “mommy bloggers” don’t write about mommies. But how else can you marginalize women who pose a threat to the traditional structure than calling them “mommy bloggers”, which often comes with a silent “just” before it.

What say you? Should we cringe at being labeled “mommy bloggers” because we are moms? Or should we just let it go, roll our eyes, and just continue to conquer the world?

Sara

{ 10 comments }

Ann November 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

I cringe and agree with you. The term “mommy blogger” is diminishing. Do we refer to men as “daddy bloggers”? And what about female bloggers that do not have children?

But in this case it almost seemed like they were trying to validate the term “mommy blogger” by attaching it to such an accomplished woman as one of her main accomplishments. Or perhaps they decided the term “mommy blogger” made her more approachable?

Taylor @ Pink Heels Pink Truck November 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

I’m not a mommy blogger. I’m a lifestyle blogger. I get why they added the label to an extent. However, if she’s talking about the charities she supports, I think ‘blogger’ would’ve been just fine. There’s no need to classify her any further. I will say that if I were a parent and saw her talking about parenting in an article and saw the term ‘Fashion’ blogger, I may question the validity of her claims. Or at least do further research to see if she was a parent herself. If you take a step back and throw in a Sports Writer talking about their charities, you may in fact see ‘Sports Writer’ in his/her bio. Is that a slap to them to be classified as such? If that’s what they write about then I think it’s okay to make that distinguishment. I do agree that the term ‘mommy’ blogger is starting to have a negative connotation (or maybe it has had for awhile and I just wasn’t aware). However on the flip side of that is that most blogger campaigns are targeted at the ‘mommy’ blogger so even within our own networks, bloggers are allowing the classification or at least not challenging it enough. Great post!

Lisa November 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I 100% agree with you! I hate being called a mommy blogger and do not consider myself one. You have hit the nail on the head and appreciate that you have spoken out on behalf of all of us who just happen to own a blog and have children.

erin margolin November 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I agree with you all the way, Sara, and I’m thrilled you shared this.

I loathe the phrase “mommy blogger.” I realize there are different categories of bloggers, but one rarely hears “daddy bloggers,” and yes, with the “mommy wars,” and everything else, the last thing we need right now is this loaded label. ugh.

And that label doesn’t blend with someone as incredible as Mayim Bialik. Just… WHOA. What were they thinking?

Thank you for standing up and fighting the good fight when some of us want to, but just don’t have it in us at the moment… and aren’t as good at saying it as you are.

xo

Kim November 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I’m not a mom and I cringe! You hit the nail on the head when you said this:

“Calling women who blog “mommy bloggers” dismisses the contribution, background, and expertise they bring with them to the online landscape.”

It even dismisses those of who are bloggers but are not necessarily focusing on business, tech, or politics as you have mentioned. It even ignores women like myself who are students and/or stay at home wives who happen to also be bloggers. Not every post is groundbreaking, insightful, or brilliant but we do what we do for our love of blogging, networking, and sharing.

We, as women, shouldn’t be shoved into some annoying category like mommy blogger (whether we’re moms or not). It’s ridiculous and, as you point out, not positive nor empowering.

Thanks for writing this amazing post. I’m here via Erin. Glad she shared and I’ll be doing the same.

Just Heather November 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I hate it! What I hate more is it isn’t just used to describe bloggers who write about parenthood. It’s used to lump all women together as if our contributions don’t count. Many ARE blogging about politics, tech, and important societal topics. But if you’re a mom (and sometimes if you’re not!), you’re a mom blogger. Mommy blogger is so condescending, I can’t even bring myself to type it most of the time.

Nina November 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Well said, Sara! Thanks for addressing this issue so succinctly.

Monica November 25, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Well said. There are still people who consider bloggers to be non-writer writers, who don’t recognize craft, content, and the power of social media to create community. I’m sure glad you do.

Leisa A. Hammett November 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I don’t know, Sara. I’ve always been on the fence about this issue of labeling mothers mommy bloggers. I realize the term has been used by some to demean mothers who blog. I’ve also known women who embraced the term. I never felt comfortable doing that. I never considered myself a Mommy Blogger, but a Mom who happens to blog.

I cannot say that I know the intention of the writer nor do I believe most of us can know for sure. It is puzzling that she would single out this one aspect of the woman’s career. Maybe she does have an issue with mothers who blog and decided to take a dig out a place of loathing and judgment. Maybe she had bought into the mass categorization and disdainful stereotype that some in the media have taken. Maybe media culture has become desensitized to “mommy blogger.” Akin to society’s labeling people with what my community finds offensive regarding people with intellectual disAbilities–hurling the “R” -word to label people of differences or to kid a friend or toss an insult. Or, maybe she was rushed. On a deadline. Distracted. Maybe it was a space consideration issue that some editor(s) plugged in. Twice.

Maybe I’m not sensitized to this because it has not happened to me that much, which might say something about my mass market exposure. (What ev. 🙂

I hope you’ll write the author, nonetheless, and maybe you said you would or have. That will definitely call her attention to zoning in on this one aspect of an impressive resume and let her know, if you choose to inform her, that women who blog about family or who are mothers who happen to blog can be sensitive to the terminology, in part because it is used in a derogatory manner.

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang December 1, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Sara, excellent article!

I was talking with Brian a few weeks ago about this. A PR rep was introducing me and said – “oh, she isn’t with the media, she is a mommy blogger”. I couldn’t put my finger on why exactly that bothered me.

This quote – “Calling women who blog “mommy bloggers” dismisses the contribution, background, and expertise they bring with them to the online landscape.” – is spot on.

Thank you for writing about this. Hopefully, people will understand that this term is neither kind nor accurate.

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