Don’t Let them Call you a Mommy Blogger

This week, Mashable published an infographic called The Rise of the Mommy Blogger. And it was offensive on OH so many levels. And wrong. Just plain wrong.

Commissioned by H&R Block for reasons I can’t really fathom (maybe they think we’re all making the big bucks blogging and they wanted to let us know they care/want our business?), the Infographic – bright pink (strike one), featured a white, blond woman in a frilly apron, (strike 2), and defined anyone who has even READ a blog as a Mommy Blogger (you’re out!). One of the very first comments, by Dresden Plaid, points out one of these problems right away:

Could you have used a more offensive/obnoxious graphic to “illustrate” a Mommy Blogger? Blonde, white, in pink and an apron? …. these women are writers. The term “Mommy Blogger” is jaw droppingly backwards. These are women, who are mothers, who write, and sometimes they write about being a Mother. Packaging it in pink fluff is just a bummer.

The comment immediately following pretty much exemplifies the problem.  And of course, it was written by RJ Silva, a man, at least judging by his avatar:

You seem to be missing the point, here. A mommy blogger, by definition, writes exactly about that: being a mom. Otherwise she wouldn’t be considered a “mommy” blogger but just a regular, sports, finance or tech blogger….

Ah, if only that were so, RJ.  The fact is, brands pitch women bloggers – regardless what they write about – as Moms.  I know one blogger, a single woman without children, who is routinely pitched as a Mom Blogger.  By virtue of the fact that we are women, regardless of whether or not we have borne children, or write about them, we are called Mommy Bloggers.    Even Silva’s use of the word “regular” in his comment speaks volumes.  A Mommy Blogger isn’t “regular?”

And then there’s that moniker – Mommy Blogger.  In the comments on Mashable a lot of people wondered – why should it be offensive? – we are, after all, Mothers.  True, in and of itself, Mommy is not a derogatory term.  But intent counts. Mommy is a word reserved for only one relationship: mother and child.  To use it in a business relationship is to imply an intimacy that is presumptuous, and, I believe, calculated to condescend. You are a Mommy, it says,  and Mommies have never been duly compensated for doing the work they do – raising a family, keeping a home.  Using that phrase excuses companies from thinking they have to compensate us for our work.  Mommies’ work has always been undervalued.  Why should Mommy Bloggers’ work be any different?

So yes, I am a mother, but the only people who get to call me Mommy popped out of my womb.

And what about Dad or Daddy bloggers? It isn’t quite the same.  Dads are men.  And as such, automatically wield more power in the world.  Unfortunate, but true.  Calling someone a Dad blogger isn’t derogatory.  The word Dad – even Daddy – doesn’t have the same connotation. Quite the contrary – men who are devoted fathers, who take part in the minutiae of their children’s lives aren’t just Dads, they’re heroes.  It’s like I always say, when I make the bed – I made the bed.  When my husband makes the bed, it’s a national holiday.

Karen Wilson, also in the comments, made this point:

For those who insist on calling bloggers who happen to be moms “mommy bloggers”, would you call Meg Whitman a “Mommy CEO” and get away with it or Sheryl Sandberg a “Mommy COO”? Absolutely not. There is a level of respect…that isn’t afforded to bloggers who are mothers ….

These women are life or lifestyle bloggers if you have to categorize them. Why should they be in a different category than someone without children who is also writing about their life?

Wilson doesn’t even mention men.  Think about it, did anyone ever call Dave Barry a Daddy Columnist?  He wrote about his life and his kids. Or me, I earned a living for nearly two decades writing and producing for television – much of it at Lifetime and Nickelodeon, where (no surprise) I wrote a lot about women, moms, and kids. Never in all my 17 years on the job did I ever hear a woman called a Mommy Writer/Producer.

So there goes your “the topic makes you a Mommy Blogger” argument.

This whole thing got me thinking about historical perspective. While there were women journalists as early as 1746 (well, at least one – a widow who inherited a newspaper), and there were a few women in history who made their mark in US Journalism (though I challenge you to find one – other than Nellie Bly – who is even close to a household name), until fairly recently, women who wanted to write were consigned to the Society Pages, or the Gardening, Household Hints, and Gossip columns. These women weren’t called reporters, or even columnists.  They were people who wrote the society pages.  Or people who wrote about gardening.  I somehow doubt that men covering crime or international affairs were called anything other than what they were: columnists, reporters, journalists.

What women lifestyle bloggers face today isn’t, sadly, all that different.  By virtue of our sex – and by virtue of having had pro-creative sex – we are Mommy Bloggers.  Not writers.  Not even “regular” bloggers.  Are there Mom Bloggers – women who choose to write about babies, family, and parenting?  Yes.  They earned the title much in the same way Parenting Experts earned theirs. But why should all women bloggers be defined exclusively by our parenthood any more than men are defined exclusively by theirs?

What galls me is that the stats prove we don’t deserve the condescension.  According to the infographic (and these are the facts I hope they got right, since I assume they got from somewhere else), Mom Bloggers (I simply cannot type the phrase Mommy Blogger any longer) are 52% more likely to have College Degrees than non-bloggers, and earn, on average, $14,000 more than their non-blogging counterparts.

We’re not so easy to dismiss now, are we?

We are writers, we are bloggers, we are business owners, website owners, entrepreneurs. In some cases, we blog for fun.  In some cases, we blog for a cause.  And in some cases, we blog to help support our families, generating real income.  In all cases, we will not be labeled.

So here’s a bit of advice, brands, (and Mashable) unless I birthed you or raised you, don’t call me Mommy.

Comments

  1. SelfishMom says

    Yes. Yes! In the years I’ve been blogging I’ve moved from “Whatever, I’m just happy you’re writing to me” to “Whatever, I’m just happy you’re paying me” to “OK, really? STILL?” I always figured the term would die out on its own. Instead, it seems to be more widespread than usual.

    I always feel like an asshole when someone at a trade show or event refers to Mommy Bloggers and I tell them “You know, that’s not a great term to use. I know you don’t mean it this way but it’s disrespectful.” I feel like I’m asking someone to call me a grrrl or something. But it’s not a revolutionary concept, and you spell out so well why it’s so wrong.

    The fact that it’s so entrenched now is partly the fault of people like me who didn’t say something soon enough. It’s like when you first meet someone and you really really want them to like you, and they call you by the wrong name, and you don’t want to say anything, and then it’s too late. But it’s not too late. If that term offends you, or even just makes you wonder why the hell it exists, it’s your duty to say something.

    It’s also time for companies to put in the time to figure out who is a parenting blogger and who isn’t. I know people who have never ever ever blogged about their families, and yet they get all the same parenting-related pitches that I do. Once companies realize that we don’t all write about the same things, they’ll be able to target pitches better, which benefits both sides.

  2. says

    This reminds me of the article in theweek.com, entitled, Battle of the authors: Jodi Picoult vs. Jonathan Franzen. Picoult makes the assertion that literary critics disregard female writers and promote “white male literary darlings.” Seems to be a strong correlation to women bloggers. Our work is taken less seriously than our male counterparts.

    This is the link to the Picoult story:

    http://theweek.com/article/index/206609/battle-of-the-authors-jodi-picoult-vs-jonathan-franzen

  3. says

    This is fantastic. My husband and I with a few friends started a new site. We wanted to target Mommies but didn’t want it to look Mommy. I couldn’t stand the thought of being tagged a mommy blogger. So – we ph balanced it for a man. Ha ha.

    Don’t take the term too hard. If you’re making money – it’s real!

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