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?