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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 01/30/2012

‘Mommy’ blogs: What are they, and how much do they matter?

Is it endearing or demeaning? Is it patronizing or cute? Should I get my back up or just relax?

How to respond when I’m called a “mommy-blogger”?

Last week, I wrote about Joanne Bamberger, aka Punditmom, and her observation that many of the women who launched blogs a few years back to chronicle their personal parenting lives — known commonly as mommy bloggers — have evolved into talented writers with strong political voices.

The flip side, as was touched on by some of the commenters, is that even as the content in many of these blogs has changed and the writers’ influence has exploded, the label has stuck.

More, it’s spread to encompass blogs that were never intended to be explorations of one’s inability to find time to shower. The term now covers pretty much any female writer who has ever mentioned her own child and who, even occasionally, writes about an issue that relates to parenting. Sometimes, the definition is even broader.

When the consumer marketing firm Scarborough Research released a report this past fall on the state of “mom bloggers,” the group defined the group “as women who have at least one child in their household and have read or contributed to a blog in the past 30 days.” (By that definition, if U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton read up on risks in Burma on the State Department blog, she’d, technically, be a mom blogger.)

Is that okay?

I put the questions to a group of female Washington writers last week:

“It’s demeaning,” said Shannon Frankel who chronicles her stay-at-home life after working in a law firm on her blog, But I Do Have A Law Degree.

“Mommy is the name only your children have the right to call you. When someone other than your child calls you that, it’s an intrusion, a trespass,” said Valerie Young, who writes the public policy blog Your (Wo)Man in Washington.

“It’s so condescending,” sneered Petula Dvorak, a columnist for The Post. “If you write about parenting, if you write about childcare, you’re considered a ‘mommy columnist.’”

On the other hand:

“It’s a label that exists. Why do we have to label it as negative? Why can’t we own it and make it what we want?” said Monica Gallagher Sakala, who writes opinions about parenting issues on the Wired Momma blog and also for Huffington Post. “It’s a way to connect the public and the private spheres.”

Later, Monica e-mailed me to add: “If we as women and mothers buy into this idea that mommy blogging is shrill and a negative label — then how can we expect anyone else to take us seriously?”

Her perspective is a key point. Is it possible for anything labeled “mommy” to be taken seriously?

Certainly marketers have noticed the “power” of mothers who blog to recommend products to each other. They are devoting more and more time and energy to reach women online.

It’s unclear how much further that power extends.

Bamberger told me last week that when it comes to politics (not mop choice), female bloggers have not yet made much of impact in the public policy sphere. Take the issues that are of importance to many of these writers, such as paid leaves, subsidized childcare, reliable healthcare: Is any candidate talking seriously about these issues?

Put another way by Dvorak: “The problem is that anything that’s written in a mommy blog is not being read by men. The issues are going to be marginalized.”

What do you think of the term mommy blogger? How do you define mommy blogs? Do you read them? Why or why not?

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By  |  07:00 AM ET, 01/30/2012

Tags:  Politics

 
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