The War Against Mom Bloggers

Today I was directed to another post attacking a mom blogger for blogging about her personal issues. It had all of the usual components : criticizing her for opening up about her problems and saying she is an attention whore, calling those other moms who leave supportive comments for her sycophants, indicating that she is a danger to her family, and then a whole slew of comments where this blogger’s friends give her the “you go girl” treatment, followed by a catfight and more generalized insults against mom bloggers when others try to defend the original mom blogger. In other words: same old, same old.

While the original post certainly wasn’t called for (and I disagree with the blogger’s method of insulting the mom blogger for not getting help when that mom blogger has already set up an appt. to get help), I especially got annoyed by the comments attacking mom bloggers in general. Why are we, as a group, so often the subject of ridicule, mocking, and hate? As a group, we get the least amount of respect as bloggers, and are the most likely to be accused of being indulgent attention whores.

First, let’s be honest: ALL bloggers are attention whores. If you weren’t, you’d either be writing in a little paper diary at home or, for those who can’t resist the “Which Desperate Housewife Are You?” online quizzes, a locked, friends-only LiveJournal. So I think the issue of being an attention whore is a non-issue in this argument.

But why do mom bloggers get so much hate? Is it because we’re the ones marketers and advertisers are now throwing money at, seeing that mom bloggers are becoming such a large community and moms often control the family finances? Or is it the typical societal response that moms are not valued for what they do as moms, considered to have nothing to say now that our brains have turned to mush from having children, and so others see no reason we should be talking about the struggles and difficulties of being a mom?

After all, we chose to be moms, right? We’re not allowed to vent about how hard it can be sometimes, because we chose to have children. We should instead shut up, change the baby’s diaper, get back into our kitchens making dinner and stop complaining. Not to mention, if we happen to do something that is very un-mom-like, such as swearing, we’re told things like, “Do you kiss your kids with that mouth?” So once we become moms we have to renounce everything about ourselves aside from our ability to read bedtime stories and fill sippy cups? (And remember, moms, we’re not allowed to drink, either.) The worst part: this is often coming from other female bloggers who often would identify as feminists. Way to set back the movement, ladies.

Of course, with that line of thinking, no one should complain about their job, their love life, their living situation, their weight, or nearly anything else. After all, you made the choice to have that job, relationship, neighborhood, whatever, right? So no one can complain about anything. Well, there goes the entire concept of blogging.

You can see this lack of respect reflected in comments when people accuse us of neglecting our children to blog (not feeding them, letting them run rampant, etc.) or point out that they can get traffic without needing to be members of mom blogging communities. The first is just ignorant, the second shows a lack of understanding of the different reasons people blog (beyond seeking attention, which we know all bloggers want).

I don’t even need to dignify the first with a response defending when I blog. My daughter gets plenty of attention, and she has never been in an unsupervised situation in our home, so when I blog doesn’t matter. Not to mention, it is often assumed that all mom bloggers are stay-at-home moms. There are plenty of working women who can also work blogging into their schedules. How do we have time for family with work and blogging? We’re magic – are you jealous? I can stop time like the guy on Heroes. (In other words, we are mighty resourceful and make it work.) We’re also accused of having too much time on our hands to be online. So which is it? Do we have too much time available, or are we committing crimes of neglect in order to blog?

As for moms forming online communities – why is this such a threatening thing to others? God forbid the internet be used for anything other than making snarky posts about people. (For the record, I agree that the mom blogger in question needs help, but I know she is also actively seeking out help. It was the insulting way the post was written, and how the poster clearly wasn’t reading anything said, that I had issue with.) Again, moms aren’t supposed to complain about our position and the daily struggles we go through. We’re supposed to read our Dr. Spock books and we’re expected to somehow know how to raise our kids. What kind of crazy thinking is this?

Motherhood is an isolating experience as well as a bonding experience. When you become a mom, you’re automatically inducted into the motherhood club, and you’ll notice right away the knowing smiles other moms give you, and find you can usually strike up a conversation with any other mom when out. But as part of your induction, you’re given no instruction manual on how to be a mom, and you find yourself wondering if you’re doing it right. Of course, it’s hard to ask for help, because society thinks parenting is the easiest, least-valued experience a person can deal with, and so we watch other moms and compare ourselves to them, wondering if they’ve got it under control or if they’re just pretending as well. We’re scared to out ourselves as a pretender and admit we really have no idea what we’re doing.

Blogging helps deal with this isolation. In a community of semi-anonymity, moms can express their fears, frustrations, an concerns, and in return often find other moms sharing similar stories to let them know they’re not alone. Knowing you’re not the only person dealing with a toddler who won’t nap, or a baby who won’t stop crying, can be all the difference between getting through another day or having a mental breakdown from the oppressive feeling of failure.

At work, I get regular job performance reviews to know how I’m doing, including praise for what what I’ve done well. As a mom, I rarely get praise for what I do, and there are few ways to measure my job. But in our society, there are plenty of people ready to point the finger of blame and attack me for any negative trait seen in my child (not just limited to sanctimommies). I won’t know how I really did until Cordy’s older, so until then I must spend every day worrying if I’m screwing her up or really preparing her for life. The community found through mom blogs provides a little more reassurance that most of us are all trying to do the best we can. Sure, there are plenty of *hugs* and other sappy sentiments given out, but look deeper and you can find a lot of useful advice, too.

Of course, because we have this community, we’re branded as an unthinking herd whenever someone attacks one of us and others choose to defend the person. If we dare to speak up, we’re labeled bitches and sycophants. Yet the attackers don’t see their own little circles of friends in the same light. They consider themselves better than the mom bloggers, so clearly their “moral high ground” exempts their nasty comments from being considered bitchy.

I didn’t leave a comment at this person’s blog, because I saw no point. She is already set in her opinion of mom bloggers as a group, so anything I addressed to her would simply be speaking to a brick wall, and I see no point in getting involved in a pointless, hateful flame war. But I do find it sad to see someone choose to write something inflammatory about another person right when that person is at their lowest point and clearly asking for help. There are ways to address the situation that don’t involve insulting the person, but also don’t involve the *hugs* and sugary-sweet comments, too. And just because friends of hers choose to disagree is no reason to then jump to insulting mom bloggers as a whole.

I’m curious as to why mom bloggers as a whole are subject to so much hate? Clearly not all mom bloggers are the same – some stay home, some work, some are married, some are single moms, some talk about poop, others don’t, some write only about their children, and some write to work out their identities as a mother as well as a woman, wife, worker, etc.

We’re as diverse a group as any other collection of bloggers, with various levels of education, different views on child rearing, and living in many different situations. The one thing we have in common is the difficult job of being mothers and our desire to share that experience with others, possibly in the hopes of finding others to commiserate with. Why is that one common thread something that others feel so threatened by and choose to attack so often?

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Comments

  1. I don’t know either.

  2. I think there are at least two separate causes fueling the types of attacks you describe:

    1) Mommy-blogging is valuable precisely because it runs counter to a lot of the messages and stereotypes about motherhood that are currently purveyed in the media. For that same reason, it’s going to make some people uncomfortable. People don’t want to be reminded that one can be a mother and retain a sense of self-hood.

    2) When the attacks come from bloggers (especially women bloggers without children), I think the motive is traffic-related. I’ve seen snarky remarks here and there about the amount of traffic some mom-blogs receive. The fact is that motherhood gives us something to write about that is intrinsically interesting to a significant blogging population – we’re not just individuals writing our own little blogs and trying to impress people – we are also a group with a shared project to work through the implications of motherhood for ourselves and our culture.

    Also, I suspect some people have noticed that you can generate a lot of traffic by attacking this community.

  3. I commented at the witch’s blog several times. I know I shouldn’t have, I know I stooped to her level, but frankly I’m sick of sucking it up and ignoring this crap.

    The women like Miss Ann Thorpe have serious self-esteem issues. They feel better by ripping apart others. It really doesn’t have anything to do with Mommy Bloggers, she just grasped on to that notion because she couldn’t think of an intelligent argument.

    My blood is still boiling over that, but soon enough she’ll be forgotten — until the next time she rips someone apart for attention and validation.

  4. In a nutshell? People suck. Usually I’m more upbeat than that, but sometimes it’s just true. Honestly I don’t know, but I think you made many very valid points here. Personally I can tell you that writing my own stuff and reading other mommyblogs keeps me sane. Seriously. I need the community.

    There should be plenty of room for everybody on here; it seems silly to get all up in arms at each other. But, like Dana said, some people just aren’t happy unless they’re miserable and stirring the shit.

  5. Violet summed it up: people have a need to make themselves feel better by talking about how much better they are than everyone else. And it’s wrong. And it you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all – right?

  6. reluctant housewife says:

    I agree that when the attacks come from other bloggers it is usually a cheap way to increase traffic.

    I know that before I had kids I wouldn’t have had any interest in reading anything about motherhood, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have taken time out of my fabulous day to “attack” something I had no interest in.

    And now that I’m not 26, I don’t need to read about shopping for stilettos and going out to the hippest bars. Not because there’s anything wrong with that – I’ve just been there, done that. And I was damn good at it.

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  8. well said.

    on a positive side, attacks can only mean that mommy bloggers are being recognized as a force, and people are so threatened by us they take time from their very fulfilling lives to attack us. I wouldn’t read their blogs, let alone take the time to write an entire post raving about them… I’m frankly not interested.

    So the fact that we mom bloggers are controversial and passion-inspiring? I’m flattered.

  9. TSM-terrifically superiorily mediocre says:

    I must be REALLY stupid to not know what a sycophant is.

    I’ll be pondering that one a while.

  10. The reason I started blogging was because I had used to keep a hand-written journal for many years. When my kids were born it seemed impossible to do such a task nightly, and blogging became the next best thing. Which now has grown into something completely unexpected. I don’t keep my blog and post comments to “increase traffic” – honestly, I really don’t have the time to deal with it, and when I post a comment it’s legitimately because I wanted to say something. Because I’m opininated.

    As for the attackers, isn’t it the usual feedbaack received by mothers lately? Just another forum for people to complain and rant about other people because their own lives are both unfulfilling and empty.

    Great post, Christina. So well said.

  11. I am a blogging mom ,but I do try to not post too much personal items. My blogs are mostly about stuff I really like and working at home. Tips to help other moms ( and dads) who want to work at home.

  12. I am somewhat new to blogging. And I couldn’t believe how much support I received from other blogging moms! It is quite disturbing to see people attack ‘moms’! I totally agree with budandpie! Its more of a traffic thing! And WE are a GROUP! A group who has more in common than most other blogging group. I stand proud to be in this group!

  13. L.A. Daddy says:

    Close-minded and small-minded people HATE personal expression, thought, and creativity. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It scares the daylights out of them.

    But arguing with people like this is never a good thing. It’s what they want. A flame war make them happy because you lose your cool and bring them down to their level.

    Mommy bloggers rock. You guys are my inspiration.

  14. MamaMichelsBabies says:

    Being relatively new to this blogging thing, I don’t know who or what blog and bloggers are in question, I agree with pretty much all said here.

    I’d like to add one thing though, being a parent, Mom or Dad is the most difficult job. It’s the only one where you dang near need a degree in several different areas of life in order to even feel remotely capable of it. As such, when one feels as if THEY are doing something right, the usual debates, drug free birth vs the whatever gets that baby out healthy happy and as painless as possible or the bottle vs breast, they feel plenty justified handing out that opinion. Which is good, as you said, we do this not just for the attention, but to also learn from others. It is also bad because there are those on either side of whatever topic in question that will hurt, insult and otherwise try to brow beat the person or people into their line of thinking. If it worked for them, then they can’t possibly be wrong right? Being questioned also causes a panic in the attacker… if someone does it differently then them, and it works, then are they themselves doing it wrong? Questions like that tend to make a parent feel threatened, vulnerable and inept. In almost no other blogging community can you find that. It causes them to react more strongly then they would at another type of blog, say a cooking blog, because parenting itself is the least controlled aspect of any parents life. If we could control what happened when all of the time, the flu, colds and ear infections would never occur. Parenting is a form of politics in it’s most brutal form.

    And yes, I AM in fact jealous. Being a sahm I see working moms on here a lot and marvel that they can be a dang good parent, manage their home, find quality time for their spouse, work 40 or more a week and still manage to come to a blog and give so much more of themselves then I would ever have left over after a day like that. If I had those kind of organizational skills I’d have it made.

  15. I think that the biggest difference between mommy bloggers (parent bloggers because there are lots of good dad bloggers out there too) and the other blogger genre’s is that it IS a community of sorts.

    The biggest difference between parenting today and the generations past is that we ARE alone and isolated.

    Our neighbourhood is a ghost town. Everyone is working or going to and from various activities. Nobody is around. You have to go FIND other moms to connect with.

    The internet made that a little easier.

    And while it is a community….women are NOT the best at support really..and so it does get like high school and there are cliques, and so on. That is human nature.

    I do hate the idea that women are NOT supposed to question their roles or feel guilt or despair.

    I hate that we are supposed to still hide our feelings.

    But blogging seems to be changing that.

  16. aimee / greeblemonkey says:

    Amen and hallelujah, sister. (Can I get my “Sycophants Rule!” button now?)

  17. Mrs. Chicken says:

    I have more to say about this but I hope to respond in a post.

    PS – I tagged you – go see.

  18. Christina,
    You are so perceptive. Well said.

    A few things I’ve learned in the last few days:

    1) I will not stop blogging about my situation because one person has misunderstood the situation and attacked me;

    2) I am helping others and that is reflected in my comments and email inbox;

    3) Some people are really sick and as it turns out, have harassed a slew of people, including phone calls at home by her and her friends. Are they 12? They are nothing more than immature losers;

    4) I will continue to blog any way I see fit – and if that means closing comments or vomiting all over my blog, so be it. But I will not give any more attention to people like that. They aren’t worth my time or energy.

    5) I will not hide my feelings.

    6) YOU ROCK.

    xoxo
    Karen

  19. #3 wasn’t clear – she hasn’t called ME, but she harassed the crap out of several other bloggers on the phone (crank calls, etc). Yeah. Sick.

  20. aimee / greeblemonkey says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. You nailed it.

  22. I don’t understand it either. I just don’t. I’ve found so much help since I started blogging. I don’t know how anyone can trash that!

  23. Perfectly stated. I agree with the others and you that the community of mom bloggers has been so wonderfully supportive and entertaining and, though I don’t always post about some of the miseries of being a mom (my MIL read it!) I find relief in knowing that others know exactly how I feel.

  24. wow, i feel like i’ve dodged a bullet here. i’ve been blogging since 2000 and haven’t ever been flamed in this way. of course, i’ve only moved over to blogger recently, so maybe that’s part of it, i don’t know. i find it very hard to comprehend. yes, moms aren’t perfect. DUH. real is real. who can fault reality, unless they’re afraid of it? who would be afraid of reality, unless their own was just really truly awful?

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