Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mommy Bloggers

A couple of weeks ago, I followed in Lojo’s footsteps and joined a 31-day Blogger Challenge with an online community.  I didn’t make it very far, I don’t think I’ve read or participated in any of the “challenges” in about 8 days.  Oh well.

The purpose of the challenge was for them to sell some guy’s book about bettering your blog, boost traffic and evaluate and learn from other blogs in your “niche”.

First thing I noticed: there are few other blogs in my niche.  This is because I couldn’t identify what exactly mine is.  The original purpose of Engrish Comics was to relay funny stories about my time living in Southeast Asia.  Since moving home, it has become a place to vent about the issues in my everyday life, a sort of public journal.  I cover many different subjects, from cats, to health care, traveling, feminism, finances, Internet commenters, transit system, etc.  So what is my niche?

I tried visiting a few blogs of ladies that are participating in the challenge, and while I still don’t know my niche, I did find something:

Mommy blogs.
Hundreds of them.

Now before I go any further explaining my anti-mommy-blogging stance, a few things should be said so that I don’t look like a total bitch:p_00227

  • I don’t have any children, just my three fur babies.   So perhaps the problem is that I don’t understand wanting to write and report NON-STOP on one subject only.
  • I don’t hate stay-at-home moms, or moms in general.  My own mother stayed home with us for years, and I’m glad she did.  I, too, hope to spend a couple of years at home with my own kids.  It’s a good thing to do, kudos to those of you who do so.
  • I don’t mind if people who have kids need a place to report to far-away family and friends about their kids, I get it.  But a public blog?  Logging every second of their life and hundreds of photos posted on the internet?  That has trouble written all over it.

I take issue with the extremist moms that seem to dominate the blogging scene.  Sure, you have kids, and I have no problems with occasional updates, just as I do with the fur babies.  They’re a part of your life, a big one, if you’re a stay-at-home mom.  But is it possible that your lack of outside interests and experiences is just a tad unhealthy?  I think so.

Many women define themselves as being a mom and wife.  But what happens when the kids leave home?  Or if she should ever suffer a divorce?  Defining yourself in terms of these roles is dangerous, because extreme mommies get extreme empty nest syndrome.  And then you become a terrifying mother-in-law.

I’m not saying every woman needs a professional career.  I know that everyone does not aspire to be doctors, lawyers and executives.  But read a book (that isn’t about motherhood), or take a class (that isn’t about parenting), or join a club (alone!) and expand your mind.  Learn something, do stuff, go somewhere.  ANYTHING so that you can write about something other than your kids and the recipes you feed them.  Oh and the cleaning tips—enough with the cleaning tips!

A close friend who wishes to remain anonymous recently agreed with my stance on mommy-blogs, and she pointed out how ass-backwards this whole thing is:

I could cry right now I am so relieved that I am not the only one who is enraged by new age motherhood and it's throw back to a time predating the women's movement.

Gonna be a harsh reality check for some of these mommys when their kids turn thirteen and won't have anything to do with them besides tell them to fuck off when they nag them to clean their rooms.

I think what pisses me off the most about stay at home blogger mommys is how they refer to themselves as "busy". What the FUCK are you busy doing? According to their blogs, they spend most of their days writing stupid shit for their blogs and discussing mommy awesome-ness in forums and buying shit online with their husband's money. It's like they graduated from college, spread their legs, and were like, THANK GOD, I can stop thinking and just be a mommy now.

Exactly.  IF they finished college.  Chances are they got themselves knocked-up halfway through so they could lock down the husband they wanted.

These women make me terrified of having children.  I know having kids changes people, and I was prepared to mellow out a bit.  I was even prepared to become a little less self-centered, I know these things are inevitable.  But I’m scared it will turn me into something I do not want to be.  Like one of those moms at a dance recital, laughing their faces off at stupid jokes that aren’t funny.  Or one of those women you can tell used to be pretty, until she gave up on losing the baby weight and taking care in her appearance.  Or one of those women run ragged due to stress, because her kids turned out to be assholes.  Or one of those annoying idiots that gushes about her husband and happy marriage to the point that you wonder who she’s trying to convince: herself or you?

Worst yet, what if I just mellow totally and fade into the oblivion of mediocrity, posting 200+ baby pictures every month and lose all other interests and ambitions?  What if I just get boring?  Oh well, even boring would be better than being SUPER annoying… like extreme mommy bloggers.


Lojo said...

Heaven almighty, thank you so much for reiterating all my inner frustrations regarding Mommybloggers.

I, too, share a lot of the same stances on motherhood and stay at home moms, and I do totally support the women who stay at home to raise their kids, especially during the times when their kids really need them. However, I, too, am pretty appalled at the lack of balance so many of these Mommybloggers demonstrate in their own lives, and then preach this imbalance among a huge group of women who are demonstrating the same imbalances, and suddenly you have a hefty, online demographic of women who are limiting their life and intellectual capabilities and perpetuating the idea that "this is motherhood". As a sociology nerd, I find this extremely disturbing.

Darren, the guy who wrote the e-book that is being studied for the challenge is a great teacher in terms of developing one's blog. However, I was a fan of his website long before I started this challenge, and I do find that most of the information in the e-book is available on his website for free, which he openly admits. I have learned a few new things, but nothing overly monumental, and, I, too have lost some interest in the 31 Day Challenge and haven't done the last four. I do like the supportive premise of the challenge, and the #1 reason I decided to take part was because I thought it would be a great opportunity for networking. However, it didn't take me long to realize that, according to this group, being a "woman blogger" predominantly means being a "mommy blogger." Which means that, not only has a lot of the blog reading that the challenge requires become painful because it is so regurgitative and mind numbing-- but I have also found very few blogs that I have the desire to return to (maybe three in total), and I don't think that many of the women reading my blog are interested in what I am writing about, either.

Like you, I don't have a specific "niche". This "niche" bullshit is what I do not like about the current blogosphere. In my mind, being a successful blogger should be about a) quality writing, and b) interesting and engaging topics. Sure, I do read some how-to kind of blogs that are based on a specific niche, and I understand that these blogs are easier monetized because they are about a very specific topic. But as for the blogs that I find most interesting? I definitely favor the ones that are balanced and on a variety of issues-- blogs that are engaging and make me think outside of the box. I've always perceived blogs as a powerful form of DIY, independent media, and it does frustrate me a little bit as to how the focus of a good blog has shifted away from intellect, creativity, humor, and quality writing, to selling a commodity that has nothing to do with the characteristics I listed above. And according to the internet, motherhood is most definitely the new commodity, at least among female bloggers.

As someone who does want to develop her blog and her writing, this challenge has left me feeling a bit stifled as to where I am going to fit among all the cleaning tips and baby barf stories, and, well, repetitive convincing that "motherhood is the best!" And "mommys are so happy!" "Really. No, really!"

Lojo said...

I actually do read some "mommyblogs", like Dooce, written by the godmother of all mommybloggers, Heather Armstrong. But the thing with Dooce is that she isn't perpetuating a stereotype, nor does Heather Armstrong limit herself or her life to strictly be about her kids and the 1950's, idealist throw back to "I am motherhood". As a result, I do enjoy the stories she writes regarding her kids. Another good parenthood blog is Sweet Juniper, written by a kick ass stay-at-home dad in Detroit. Those blogs make me excited about parenthood because they're dynamic and balanced and funny and relatable.

All in all, I've realized that finding the right people to network with is going to be much, much harder than I realized, and that I, myself, may have to conceptualize a completely new niche for people like you and I to fit and flourish. I *want* people like you and I to have a louder voice among all the cleaning tips and baby barf stories and STAH mom celebrating. It's important for me, as a woman, to have more dynamic voices in the blogosphere to bounce ideas off of and to create more balance in this increasingly imbalanced niche.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. The obsessive scary momma is the predecessor to the terrible mother in law. I write about the phenomenon in my blog, which you can read at www.howtosurviveyourmotherinlaw.com
I recommend the post entitled "Why I Cannot Forgive Robert Munsch"