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?