The very first morning at BlogHer I attended a session titled Is Mommy Blogging still a radical act. I didn’t live blog the session, but I did take copious notes. It was an interesting enough topic that I feel the need to transcribe my notes here and maybe get your opinions. Most of the following text is taken verbatim from the session. Here and there I’ve entered my own conclusions, but I don’t think that it affected the original conversation.
Here goes nothing.
What is radical? Radical at it’s root means basic, but it can also refer to something having a social impact. Radical from a Mommy Blogging perspective is making a private world public.
Mommy Bloggers are making a fundamental change. We’re transforming what used to be isolated into something public. But putting ourselves out there for the world to read and judge is not only radical, but also brave.
Blogging is the start of a shift towards honesty. Before Mommy Blogs women turned to magazine articles for support and information. And although parenting magazines are great, they only show the rosy, happy, clean side of the story. They don’t present the true dirty side of mommyhood. Bloggers are out there crying “Wait! No one told me this!” and shedding light for other moms who are also in the dark.
And yet, what’s radical is that people are still criticizing us for speaking out. People are scared and want to shh us. But the shift is happening, woman are claiming the medium and speaking their truth. The braveness lies in the ones who keep speaking and don’t let themselves be shhhed.
Mommy Blogging is about the community, about the honesty, about the feeling of release, about connecting with other moms.
In real life we have an obligation to respond or to show up. When we we spend time at a playgroup or with other people most of the conversation is taken up with small talk, especially when our children are present.
Blogging allows us to read a post and then think about how we want to respond. We can come back at a later time when our thoughts are organized. The conversation is never dropped. Blog world conversations take place on a different timeline which allows for deeper, truer discussions.
Mommy Blogging is radical in the way it brings moms of different ages and different worlds together.
Being a mom is very isolating. Years ago people lived in smaller communities, spent more time together, and interacted more. Moms bonded over quilting circles or community washing days. Now we’re all toiling in our own corner, unsure that what we’re doing is right, unconvinced that what we’re feeling is OK. The momosphere is the new quilting circle, our place to bond with each other and learn from the community.
Mommy Blogging is radical because people still criticize us for trying to make money from our blogs. When we write about our families or lives and get paid to do so then we’re “exploiting our families”, which is “sick.” When political bloggers write about what they know and make money it’s acceptable. If a tech blogger reviews a product it’s fine. If a Mommy Blogger reviews a product she’s selling out.
Mommy Blogging is radical because it’s a movent of women. It’s a silent movement that started out disregarded and played down. No one saw us coming, but children are important and mothering is important and if we can get paid to write about mothering then more power to us. But it’s scary to see mothers get paid for our knowledge. It confirms our power and importance. It makes men and other women try to squash us in fear. The work mothers do is not counted in the GNP. Mommy Bloggers who earn money from their blogs are getting paid for knowledge that’s never been compensated before. But people are missing the point; getting paid to blog is not the same thing as getting paid to mother.
There are 36 million women a week in the blogosphere. It’s time for us to take the money. It’s time for us to take the business. But it’s especially time for us to write the rules.
We can’t pander to advertisers and we can’t pander to readers. We must keep true to our voice and our integrity. We can’t forget that it’s our space to be ourselves. We write for ourselves. Everything else is a bonus.
Mommy Blogging is still definitely a radical act, and what we can do to stay radical is to continue being ourselves. We have to stay true to our voices and maintain our edge. When we start to let others dictate what we say or write, then we’ll stop being radical. As bloggers we have to work hard to remain objective, if we don’t we risk losing our voice and eventually our audience. Our advertisers and readers want to read what we have to say, they want to read us, they want us to be transparent so they know they can keep trusting us.