Friday 3 May 2013

The Non-Mom Blogger Blues, part I: the women's network quandry

I have agonized over this post for some time now, and I’m finally hitting publish…with a few notes first:

1. This is the first in a series of posts and you can headover here to see what I’ll be covering.

2. I’m using the term ‘mom blogger’ because it’s an industry-recognized term, typically referring to parents, primarily female, who blog about parenting in a variety of ways. I recognize, and am starting to meet, bloggers who fit into the ‘mom blogger’ parameters but not the widely-recognized characteristics and behaviours. In short: if you are a mom blogger and you don’t feel like these posts represent you, that’s totally okay. I know you’re out there. We just don’t hear from you as often. Feel free to email me about your experiences. 

3. Which brings me to my final note: if you want to share feedback, comment below or email me. This post series is in no way meant to be a definitive examination of the issue; it’s one woman’s experience. As such, please also respect that this has been my very poignant reality for the last three years of blogging.

Okay, here we go...

Today I got really good and mad, and it was about mom blogging.

Recently I started making a greater effort to follow more blog-related networks, particularly those that I felt related to me. This meant that I joined a variety of facebook pages promoting conferences, networks, and groups for women in the social media field. I’m female, and I blog, and I work in social media professionally as well, so this all made sense.

Then the posts started coming through my Facebook newsfeed, and I found them kinda useless. I skipped over most of them, skip skip skip, for a couple weeks. Then today, it clicked what was annoying me about these posts: they were all about being a mom.

 I’ve put a sample of screenshots through this post for you to see. These were within the first three scrolls of my mouse. It looked like about 80% of the content on one page, in particular, was all parenting/kid/mom related links. Now, it’s going to look like I’m picking on just one page here, but I’m using them more as a case study, not something to burn in effigy. I promise.

Okay, so here’s my rant.

I started following this page for advice. I am looking to grow my blog. I was not looking to read about the orange dye in Kraft Dinner or the best ways to deal with tantrums—not that I’m not interested in these things, but that wasn’t why I came here. I recently joined a number of facebook pages specifically on parenting matters because of the induction into my life of two mini-humans (my partner’s two kids); but as valuable as these posts may be, they are not the reason I’m on a facebook page promoting a:
“…community hub…[their actual website] is the Web's number-one guide to blogs by women. Every blogger is invited to list her blog and share her latest words, pictures, video and opinions. As of May 16, 2009, more than 51,000 members have listed over 22,000 blogs by women, organized by topic. Every day, our 60+ editors write daily guides to the hottest blogging by women in 20+ popular topics, from politics, news and technology, to food, health and family.”

More examples.
So why are 8 out of 10 posts about kids? What is the message that this sends—to other bloggers, to blog readers, to men and women—about female bloggers? Because I can tell you what I’m hearing said between the lines of their last twenty-ish posts on their page:

“Women bloggers blog about kids. Period.”

“Women would rather be stay-at-home moms.”

“Even though you run some sort of social media career, you should take time out of your workday to read about the yellow dye in Kraft Dinner.”

“Your career and/or interests must be kid-centric at all times.”

"If you're on this network, we assume you're a mom; and if you're a mom, all you must want to read about is mom stuff."

I’m aghast that a network of 55,000 members leads to this page posting such an overwhelming amount of content about kids, kids, kids. Okay, not every post that goes up can be about publishing, blogging, and tech troubles, I guess…but is there nothing else that might be of interest to women? Why not post about healthy feminine hygiene products? Maybe a few links about recent strides in women’s rights overseas? Orgasms? Carpal tunnel? Birth control? Copyright issues? Or maybe intelligent books and post-secondary courses?

This, in my eyes, is a huge part of why the social media world looks at a group of women in a social media discussion and says, “Oh. Mom bloggers.” How many ‘soft focus’ posts about parenting do you see on a male dominated networking group—or, for that matter, posts on shaving, erectile dysfunction, or BBQ’s? It seems like the boys have learned to separate their familial structure and personal life from their work, and that doesn’t seem so complicated. It certainly lends credibility to why I want access to these pages while I’m at work.

Okay, now before you freak out: I’m not saying your cultural/societal role doesn’t play a factor in your blogging. Of course it does. But when a group posts itself under the ‘media/news/publishing’ section of Facebook’s pages, I figure they’re there to talk about…media, news, and publishing issues.

So here’s the rub: because I’m not kid-crazy, I’m having trouble finding my place out there. I don’t fit in with the people who apparently think about kids 80% of their professional time; and yet, as a burgeoning step-parent, I don’t quite belong with the kid-free crowd anymore. Since I’m not interested in eschewing the children altogether, and I want to be where the big blog action is happening, I end up turning to these mom-centric networks and conferences. But when I get there, I end up having motherhood beaten into my skull. Because not only am I disinterested, but when I do read it, I leave off feeling inadequate. I mean, why haven’t I ever worried about what Max will think when I’m not a stay-at-home-mom? Why, at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, wasn’t I planning some sort of adorable vegetable snack shaped like a Fraggle? Well, clearly I’m unfit as a guardian, then. Because while on social media for my workday, I was looking only to read about, you know…work.

Understand; there’s already a lot of pressure on women to be kid-crazy. I don’t know if I need more of it coming from my professional peer group.

And next, I reverse the finger-wagging...

Now, to point my finger back at myself, and those of us who aren’t mom bloggers: make your voice heard. Instead of walking away from a potentially valuable network, make your presence known and make your desire for relevant content heard.

And pointing a finger at PR agencies and big brands: you aren't helping the problem by chasing parent bloggers around like needy puppies, then marketing only the most obvious products to them. Bloggers want sponsorships (fair enough) but if they want to catch your eye, it seems the best way to do so is to capitalize on our familial structure...I don't like that. But I'll rant on about that in a subsequent post.

My point here is, let’s have a women’s social media network that’s genuinely on topic. Let’s do battle with the forces of monetization, publishing, writer’s block, and glass ceilings…and let’s leave the kids out of it.

Feel free to respond. Part II will come soon.


  1. i would not sounds like you are discovering a brand new world;) and that it is both odd and overwhelming and underwhelming and not quite right for you. my persepctive?
    i am a mom and i could care less about yellow dye in KD. perhaps i should care...but i don't. i also do not care to debate it nor do i care to pimp it for free boxes. but i am still a great mom.
    that feeling of inadequacy? it is something that is pervasive in the parenting community and a feeling that is often exploited for readership and well, just feeling better than other parents. walk away from it. it is just annoying. as are the writers/parents/bloggers/advertisers that encourage it.
    now, aside from being a mom, i am also a photographer who loves writing ( non monetized or hel back by anyone ), politics, women's issues, photo tech and really good jeans;)...not all normal mom stuff...but there are exactly who i want to be reading out there, in the blog world. you will find your community and the odd bunch that will make it up. you will not be relegated to parenting posts ( step parenting posts ), i promise.
    now, in all this, i want to say that for many women, this world of mom blogging is their voice and gives them a sense of community. that is really important at different stages of parenting, especially if no real life community is available to them. it may not be the right place for me, but it is the right place for many which is why it is so pervasive.
    just my quick two cents ( between parental and professional moments this morning).

  2. When I go on to facebook, I notice way to many ads and promoted posts for brands I would never use and don't want to read about. They jump out at me because they are not only uninteresting, but also annoying to me.

    I could see how parenting-related content might do the same thing to someone who doesn't want to see that. I just went and checked BlogHer's facebook page and out of the last 10 articles that they posted, 2 of them were on parenting. That is hardly dominating the page. I also looked at their website and again, 8 out of 10 of the "what's new" articles were not about parenting.

    It is interesting that the complaints that you seem to have with BlogHer (and possibly other networks) are the same ones that feminist mothers often have with feminist websites -- i.e. they are disproportionately focused on issues relating to single, young, career oriented feminists and ignore the issues of relevance to feminist parents.

  3. As a mother of five, you'd think I'd be all over the kidstuff. I'm not. So, I share your frustration at the seemingly relentless spewage of all things motherhood (or parenting). Then I got to thinking: I know Google has the capability to target ads and/or links according to recent searches or something like that (forgive my non-technical web savvy-ness) if I've looked at making my own herbal sunscreen that's safe for kids...I just got nailed for having kids. Would this be something that heightens your awareness of it, perhaps?

    I went on BlogHer and didn't find as much "mom" related stuff as I thought there would be, but the Facebook page seems to concentrate a few articles...I wonder if the FB page, too, has an analytic, or on the website itself, that would indicate to them the views per article, and as such, if said article ranked high, to promote it elsewhere (aka, EVERYwhere?)

    My appreciation for your frustration comes when I go to a blog or site for specific information, and there's a cross-over. Unless markedly connected, I simply do not want a cross-over. I want to have those stolen moments between picking dried up, shellacked KD off the floor to peruse stuff that caters to MY. PERSONAL. INTERESTS. No kids. Nada.

    On another side, perhaps "mom bloggers" who are, in fact, trying to promote their brand but instead are getting caught up in the cross-over need to look at their mission statement or purpose and re-focus on their original intent for blogging.

    My randomly scattered thoughts as I, too, try to manoeuvre through the blogosphere without my kids!!

  4. I don't have any advice. I'm child free. I have little to no interest in mommy blogs, but I have found that feminist sites are becoming fractured as a result of mommy blogger infiltration. They seem to turn the conversation away from other feminist topics and to only want to talk about parenting and feminism issues. I get that this is indeed an integral part of feminism, but when the rest of the conversation is drowned out the dialogue shuts down.

    I have been told that I can't be a feminist because I don't have kids, that I'm not really a woman because I don't have kids, that I'm selfish and that my opinions don't matter because I don't have kids. So it seems, after a highly unscientific viewing of sites, that the mommy bloggers are a force to be reckoned with and woe to the woman who doesn't want to be a part of that scene.

    I think the mommy bloggers are so prominent because they are so aggressive with their branding. A blog links to Babble links to Facebook links to Twitter links to MamaPop links back to Facebook and so on and so forth.

  5. Mommy bloggers are inescapable because many of them are relentless in their branding. A blog links to Babble links to Facebook links to MamaPop links to Twitter and back to Facebook. If you click on any of the links, it's seared into the algorithm and you can't escape it. Also as a woman in her late 30's it's as though the world has decided I absolutely have to be a mother now and I'm inundated with parenting related crap.

    As for feminism and parenting, I've abandoned most feminist sites because I feel like it's just such a divide between parents and non-parents. Non-parents (such as myself) want to talk about reproductive rights, work place equality, heath concerns and the mommy blogger side just want to talk about parenting issues (which are totally a part of the feminist conversation) to the exclusion of everything else. I stopped when I was told I wasn't a real woman nor a real feminist because I am child free.

  6. Networks market to moms because that's what brands want, brands market to moms because studies have shown again and again that moms - female heads of household - make the decisions about where money is spent.

    I am a parent, my daughter fills my reality, I blog about my experiences for myself and for anyone else who might be able to say 'me too.' I don't consider myself 'kid crazy.' I have lots and lots of interests and I have created networks for all of them. My twitter feed is full every day of feminists, politicos, and other parents. I have blogs that I regularly read that write about women's rights overseas and orgasms and books, etc. I also regularly write about politics.

    It seems like you might be shoving me into a box as much as any brand.

    And the network is listed under media/new/publishing not to talk about media, news and publishing but because they are a publisher.

  7. I completely agree, I'm just starting out as a blogger. I have been on the never ending search to join groups and networking sites that would even allow my topic! (My blog is about Sexual Health and of And everything I find that relates to women is about either moms or crafts, which is great! But not so much related to me...or my topic of choice! Now BlogHer did feature one of my posts which is awesome but I can see how its filled with lots of mommy bloggers.

    Great perspective!

    Angela Nichole


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