A Mompreneur By Any Other Name

July 21, 2011

I’m generally not a fan of mashed up hybrid neologisms; you know, those words that are created out of two unrelated words, like ‘freegan’ and ‘Brangelina.’ But in some cases, they can be useful – fun, even – inasmuch as they allow us to describe something for which there hasn’t previously been a proper name. ‘Mompreneur’ is one such word. The thing about a word like ‘mompreneur’, though, is that its use needs to be appropriate and relevant to what it’s describing, otherwise it very quickly becomes ridiculous.

So when is it okay to use the word ‘mompreneur,’ and when is it not?

Here’s how I described the proper usage of ‘mompreneur’ to a commenter on Jezebel who was railing against the insidious counter-feminism of such a term. Her argument was that women who call themselves ‘mompreneurs’ just because they’re moms who happen be entrepreneurs are leading with their motherhood unnecessarily, and subversively. I disagreed on her understanding of the term (yes, I stick my nose in these arguments. Because I can):

‘Mompreneurs’ are women who have pursued some entrepreneurial endeavor related to motherhood, not just mothers who are entrepreneurs. That is, a mompreneur is not a woman who launches a business manufacturing widgets, and just wants to lead her marketing with her mom identity, but a woman who, say, starts a business selling onesies and toddler tees – that is, a business that is rooted in her experience of motherhood, such that the ‘mom’ angle is absolutely relevant and even central to the business and its marketing. Such a woman isn’t making a statement on her attitude toward her social value as a woman; she’s marketing. And usually effectively – her primary market is, after all, other moms.

In other words, being a mother is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a mompreneur. Your business must also be mom-related, or broadly parent/family/child related, in some degree. On this argument, then, a mom who is a social media entrepreneur isn’t necessarily a mompreneur – if her social media work does not relate in any way to motherhood or parenting, she’s a female entrepreneur who happens to have given birth to (or adopted, or stolen from a stork) children. If she’s a social media entrepreneur whose social media work relates in some fundamental way to motherhood or parenting, then, sure, call her a mompreneur.

Don’t call me one, though. I don’t really like the term – I don’t like the term ‘freegan,’ either, or ‘Brangelina’ – and in any case, I don’t really consider myself an entrepreneur so much as I do a freelance opportunist. Momportunist? Maybe I should try to make that catch on.

Momportunists of the world, unite and take over!

Cross-posted with revisions at MomCrunch, where there are, as it happens, a lot of mompreneurs hanging out, being all mompreneury and stuff.

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