Oh, hi! Can I tell you something about myself? I am not a mommy blogger.
Yeah, I know. There’s a baby in my header. There are lots of pictures of my children here, including that one, right there, on the left. (Aren’t they cute? I let them call me Mommy.) But still. I am not a mommy blogger.
I am mother, yes. I blog about my children, sometimes, and about motherhood, frequently, and about other things here and there (including but not limited to: religion and spirituality, grief, social causes, my nephew, cupcakes, social media, feminism, and zombies), and I do have the word ‘mother’ in the title of my blog. But I am not a mommy blogger. You can call me one, if you want, and I won’t, like, have to restrain myself from punching you. But I’d prefer that you didn’t.
And it makes me sad to say that, because you know what? I’m proud of being my children’s Mommy. And I’m proud of being a blogger – a writer – who has made a career out of reflecting upon the condition of her ‘mommy-ness’ and who has contributed to the tremendous and – yes – revolutionary movement that is mothers seizing the opportunity to own their stories and to create discursive space with those stories. I’m proud to be part of a community of women who work to lift the veil on the lifeworld that is motherhood, the lifeworld that has for the entirety of human history been kept hidden behind the walls of privacy and modesty and decorum, the lifeworld that has so long been kept at a remove from the public sphere and from public discourse. And if that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about mommy-blogging – if by mommy-blogging we refer to what the very wise Alice once, and rightly, called a radical act – then yes, I really do want to claim the mantle mommy blogger and own it and wave it proudly. But that’s not what most people are thinking of when they use the term mommy blogger. That’s not what they’re thinking of at all.
They’re thinking, vapid diaries about shit and binkies. They’re thinking, mindless prattle about playdates and sippy cups. They’re thinking, glorified scrapbooks and virtual coffee klatches and dear GOD won’t someone shut them up already? They use the term condescendingly, as shorthand for women you probably shouldn’t bother listening to, because, you know: MOMMY = SILLY. MOMMY = RIDICULOUS. MOMMY = WOMAN WHO IS DISEMPOWERED AND ALSO MINDLESSLY OBSESSED WITH DIAPER BAGS.
A mommy, in the estimation of those who look down their noses at ‘mommies’, is a woman who couldn’t possibly have anything serious or interesting to say. And a mommy blogger? Is a woman who makes a daily practice of forcing her unseriousness and uninterestingness upon the world. That, at least, seems to be the view of commentators on stories like this one, at Jezebel, which took a serious and unsettling issue – sexual harassment – and framed it condescendingly as an oh look what those silly mommy bloggers are up to NOW story (“there is DRAMA in the world of mommy bloggers! More so than usual!”). That story prompted responses like “Oh, more reasons to roll our eyes at mommy/daddy bloggers? I’m in” and “Wait, wait, wait… Mommy bloggers? …I missed out on so much while I was BUSY PARENTING.” Because, of course: what’s more ridiculous than a mommy blogger? NOTHING. Mommy bloggers are so ridiculous that even a feminist website feels totally justified in rolling its eyes at them. Mommy bloggers are so ridiculous that we can’t even talk about one woman’s experience of sexual harassment without prefacing it with a sarcastic OH EM GEE, just because she happens to be a mom who blogs.
Which, god. Why? Even the person who is most clueless about how diverse and complicated is the mad, mad world of the Internets should know that a) the community (broadly speaking) of women who are mothers and who blog is vast and heterogeneous, and it is reductive and misleading to collapse them all into one category, and b) even if someone does identify themselves as a ‘mommy blogger,’ that identity isn’t necessarily relevant to everything that they do or say, online or off. (The woman at the center of the sexual harassment story, a woman that I know and like, wasn’t harassed as a mommy blogger. She was harassed as a woman. WORTH NOTING.) But even setting those things aside, why on earth should it be a matter of ridicule or condescension if a woman blogs about her motherhood and/or children, qua mommy blogger or not qua mommy blogger (however one understands the term)? What the fuck does everyone have against mommies and moms and mothers, anyway? Unless you sprung fully formed from the forehead of your father, you probably have one yourself.
This bothers me, in part, because it seems to be part of a broader and deeper social inclination to dismiss and disparage mothers and motherhood; to compartmentalize mothers, to set them apart and ignore their discourse and, basically, just shove them back behind the veil – the wall of the private sphere – where, it seems, some people think they probably belong. There’s a long and fascinating history to that whole social impulse. The ancient Romans, for example, codified it and wove into the very fabric of their understanding of morality. Public virtue was for men (hence the very meaning of the term virtue, which holds the root vir, or man, such that virtu, in Latin, means manly); the honor of women, on the other hand, was modesty (pudicitia), defined almost entirely by their ability and willingness to respect the barriers of their gilded cage, the domain of family, the private sphere. That was millenia ago, but still: every time someone makes fun of ‘moms’ for discussing the work of motherhood in public, or for simply daring to live and breathe and flaunt their motherhood publicly, they give us all a little shove back toward that cage. (oh god can’t you / keep it DOW-UNN / VOICES CARRY...) That women participate in this appalls me. That self-described feminists do it makes me want to punch something.
And that any of this makes me, even for a second, recoil at the term ‘mommy blogger’ makes me want to punch the very mirror that I’m looking in, because recoiling from the term ‘mommy blogger’ is part of the problem. It’s conceding the point; it’s a move backwards, an acknowledgment that okay, yeah, maybe I should be embarrassed by my own ‘mommy blogging’ impulses. Maybe I shouldn’t write so much about my kids! Maybe mommy blogging isn’t a radical act. Ceding that ground is ceding the argument that there is something unseemly about flaunting one’s motherhood in public. It’s letting the terrorists win.
So, fuck that. I’m loud, I’m proud, I’m a mommy and I BLOG.
I am a mommy blogger. Suck it up.