Honey, Don’t Bother Me. I’m Too Busy Writing With a Toddler In My Lap

The New York Times has discovered something very shocking…women, who are mothers, also sometimes write on the internet, and earn money while doing it.  And even worse, they appear to be making an effort to find ways to earn more money, as if they were trying to be, oh, I don’t know, professionals or something!

The topics on that day’s agenda included search-engine optimization, building a “comment tribe” and how to create an effective media kit. There would be much talk of defining your “brand” and driving up page views.

You know. For your blog.

Yes, they had come to Bloggy Boot Camp, the sold-out first stop on a five-city tour. It is the brainchild of Tiffany Romero and Heather Blair, the founders of the Secret Is in the Sauce, a community of 5,000 female bloggers. Boot Camp is at once a networking and social event, bringing together virtual friends for some real-time girly bonding, and an educational seminar designed to help the participants — about 90 percent of them mothers — to take their blogs up a notch, whether in hopes of generating ad revenue and sponsorships, attracting attention to a cause or branching out into paid journalism or marketing.

The obvious problem, which Mom 101 points out so succinctly, is that it’s still assumed that women who blog are a homogeneous group that sit at home and write up their day to day moments raising their cherubic cheeked prodgeny in between folding the laundry, making the dinner and catching up on our soaps.

According to Sunday’s style section in the New York Times, moms shouldn’t be working.  At least if you look at the article called Honey Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Building My Brand.

I guess it could also have been titled Honey Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Making Ends Meet for Our Family in a Tough Economy but that doesn’t seem as enticingly condescending. Also, then it would have to go in the business section and not fashion + style and that would just mess up everything!

The NYT comparison to “mommy blogging” as an online version of the tupperware party that mascarades as social interaction when it’s really about pushing product.  Of course, it makes no attempt to define what falls into that category, nor acknowledge the wide variety of writing that mothers do (and yes, also get paid for, when we are lucky).

But the most telling part of the Times article may be this section:

The blogosphere is also increasingly the place many women look for their parenting role models. Just as television viewers have a seemingly insatiable hunger for reality shows, mothers often prefer the warts-and-all experiences of other moms online — and the ability to discuss them interactively — to the dry, inflexible pronouncements spouted by experts in books and parenting magazines.

Apparently, mom bloggers are the “reality tv” of writing: amateures hoping to strike it big not because they are professionals or experts but simply for their entertainment factor.  And just as actors bemoan and belittle the reality tv stars that fill the airwaves, taking jobs for little pay and a chance for more exposure, you can feel the professional writing community’s apprehension over the bloggers who may do the same thing to their profession.

Who needs a high paid PR consultant and freelancer when a blogger can get you as many impressions for much cheaper and is a more trusted source?

It’s this tension in the writer’s world that makes it difficult for mainstream media to see “mommy bloggers” are a diverse set of women writers trying to change the way writing, reporting and gatekeeping happen online.  And yes, we want to be compensated for out work when possible, especially when we make extra effort to promote ourselves.  Having children isn’t how we define ourselves as writers, but it is part of what shapes the way we view our world, and often how we approach important topics.  Although writers may continue to belittle it, it is being recognized as a powerful and appreciated industry tool.

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50 comments

Angie c.
ANGIE cr8 years ago

well this is complicated to address. but it is interesting to know about this.

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johan l.
paul l8 years ago

The quick poll is a bit ambiguous, so I am not sure what I was voting on!
It is purely nuts to prevent women, be they young mothers or old fuddy-duddies from making ends meet.
Surely the NY Times article was tongue in cheek?
Keep it up[ ladies, I am with you 100%

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Gabi B.
Gabi B8 years ago

Great article. Thanks

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Virginia Reddin
Virginia Reddin8 years ago

thanks for this!

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Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W8 years ago

When I saw the title, I thought it was another example of injustice against women, forcing them to stay at home and work from home while looking after their children.

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Samantha T.
Past Member 8 years ago

The NYT article makes it sounds as if men are jealous of the fact that women are, at least in their minds, Bogarting the freelance writing careers. Well, as for the NYT's, how long has it been that men Bogarted every other career choice away from women to keep their "good ole' boys' club"? Could they possibly be afraid women will and are doing a better job than men? I think so... and I think they're jealous of it!

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Samantha T.
Past Member 8 years ago

My post didn't complete. The last line reads, the truth is that it DOESN'T! It makes it easier and shows my children that I can still be a viable contributing member of society despite health problems that will continue to grow until eventually my vital organs shut down; however, nobody can ever accuse me of giving up on life all because my body and immune system gave up on me along with pharmaceutical co's who should be coming out with cures, not more treatments that are more dangerous than the diseases themselves.

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Samantha T.
Past Member 8 years ago

Dhaval M. I agree the NY Times was rather condescending in its remarks. I've gone through various careers b/c of health issues; I lost 1 career to blindness, a 2nd career to lupus (SLE)/ & Sjogren's disease, & for the last 10 yrs I have spent my time writing for various online & off-line magazines. In addition, I have a published novel to my name. Before lupus/Sjogren's ruined my working career forever in the MT field, I sat at a computer transcribing medical notes at times w/an infant asleep in a baby-sling while I sat at a computer learning the trade. Lupus/Sjogren's b/c so bad due to nerve damage in my hands my typing speed dropped from 120 w/99% accuracy to barely 35wpm on a good day so the career switch to freelance writer, novelist, beta tester, reviewer, & etc was the only way to pick up income where I'd lost previous income to keep our household going. I make no apologies for it. Accountants/Businesses won't hire me despite degrees in the field b/c of blindness & lack of transportation not to mention I'm a woman so I had to do something. Freelance writing was the answer. I'm talented in the field as proven over & over again. My children benefit from my career choice, esp my youngest who loves writing a/w/a reading. She's a straight A student in the AIG program & on the university track in 7th grade w/academics 2 grade levels ahead of her classmates. Where is this hurting the children of freelance writing mothers? The truth is that it does

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Roberto R.
Roberto R.8 years ago

Hey I'm a MAN and welcome the ladies as writers. They bring a new insight to writing, and for mainstream "so called yes men media" a headache worst than writers-block.
Viva la diferenceia! Write ladies write while your babies become learners at your lab, homeschooled? Why the h...not?

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Michele C.
Michele C8 years ago

interesting

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