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.”
“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.
Feel free to respond. Part II will come soon.