3.13.2007

Big Fat Caveat (edited with another smaller caveat from Mad)

Before the Fat Caveat, I need to thank everyone who has commented here or at blogrhet. Thank you also to those have written posts on the topic (even by coincidence) and shared your links--I intend to create a list of these to share and reference. HBM and I have also enjoyed some spirited emails with a few folks. Debate has ensued. And it's been great. My head has been spinning, my brain ticking, ticking, ticking. And I'll confess to being a touch overwhelmed with it all, sorting through responses and figuring out what it all means (or trying to). (Does anyone else go to bed with a blogging blogging brain???) Once we get closer to this "what does it all mean?" question, we'll be sharing our views--views that have been shaped and informed by your contributions. A working example of what we intend to argue about these networks being knowledge-making communities.

But before we get there, I needed to write this post and more directly address one of the central critical issues several of you have raised.

When we ask "Who are we?" we also need to pay close attention to Who We Are Not. In other words, who does not get to be included in this "feel the love" community so many of us are describing. Exclusions that may not be deliberate, but are certainly there.

The staggering response to the Today Show's vilification of mothers who (gasp) have a drink while their children play was without doubt a community-strengthening moment. Bloggers--especially mommybloggers--wrote insightful (and I would argue, feminist) critiques of the piece, and argued that it participated in a larger culture where double standards for mothers are the norm. Over here I was rubbing my hands in glee as the community went into action in a way that so perfectly fit into the arguments we were forming for our research.

But check out this lone comment on the issue over at Izzy's place (from the Lovely Mrs Davis):


"I totally agree that the sub-text of the segment was that mothers are unable to think critically and that they need to be told how to parent. But I also think that there is more to this. There's a qualifier there that isn't being said out loud by anyone, yet seems to exist. I think when we (moms/bloggers) say that this is okay for moms to do, we only mean it's okay for "moms like us" to do — middle class (or higher), educated moms who are married, with seemingly stable lives. I don't think we would all respond so positively if the mom in the Today Show hot seat was a single/divorced mom who works nights and lives in a crappy apartment complex. Would we trust her judgment as well as we trust our own?"

Would we?

That unspoken qualifier, that it's okay for "moms like us," reveals a great deal about the boundaries of this community and reminds me uncomfortably that we are in many ways a blogging elite. As I noted last week, mommyblogging is a largely white, privileged enterprise. In this way, it is directly reflective of a broader digital divide--both socially and globally. Though my experience is that the bloggers in these networks are largely liberal and embracing in their perspective (and we've certainly heard stories of exceptions to this) the fact of the matter is that we are largely straight white women with enough education and income to be at this "technological cutting edge."

This of course means that any democratizing or liberatory claims about "blogging" (whether in this context or in others) need to be seriously scrutinized. Who's getting freed here? (And, more to the point, at whose expense?)

If we're attaching this argument to women, and specifically mothers, what version of womanhood or motherhood is being redefined in this equation? I am sharply reminded that to refer to "motherhood" as some sort of universal that can be "transformed" has a leveling effect that can be deeply problematic. And over at blogrhet, Aurelia at Mama Scribes has applauded the project but cautions,


"I just wonder if this transformation of motherhood will systematically leave out groups of women who have been historically left out of these discussions. Also, if motherhood can indeed be transformed through blogging, how would it alter the realities of motherhood for mothers outside of the blogosphere and how long would it take, I wonder."

In the 1980s, "feminism" came under attack by women of color and lesbian feminists who were marginalized by "mainstream" white, heterosexual feminism. It became clear that recognition of "women's oppression" also required attention to historical and social specificities because, in the words of Michele Barrett, "how useful is it to collapse widow-burning in India with 'the coercion of privacy' in Western Europe, into a concept of such generality?.

As several of you have pointed out, the transformative and political claims of this panel might well repeat that act of leveling and therefore exclusion. Not good.

But does this mean that the panel should shift its focus and examine these other marginalized communities? I would say no (for now). Does it mean we have to be very explicit about the specific context for this analysis? Absolutely. Any claims for transformation need to be tempered. Always. Analyses such as these need to be considered as groundwork for other much-needed analyses of other marginalized communities, part of a broader conversation that must take place as we move into an increasingly wired social world.

And am I arguing that mothers and women--even white women--are marginalized or subordinated? Yes I am. As a feminist, my fundamental belief is that we have not achieved gender equality in society. I believe the digital divide takes place along lines of race, class and gender. (As I sit here in my largely white, male workspace at an academic computing center and take lunch orders for an upcoming meeting)

This is important work, and I think something very interesting is happening socially. It's our charge to articulate what that is, and ask ourselves hard questions about how "radical" such changes actually are, but at the same time not lose sight of what positives are emerging--in specific contexts--that can potentially make a change to that uneven field many of us are playing on right now.

Let me hand over to Mad, who has framed this change far more eloquently than I could hope to...

Mothers (gasp!!) have taken back their authority to mother from the experts; the parenting books are now being read simply as supplements, not gospels. Yes, blogging mothers have recreated much of the support network that has always been
a vital part of parenting. They have gained confidence in their roles as mothers and have crafted a sense of agency to think and act as women integrated in the various mantles they are forced to adopt (employee, mother, wife, intellectual, activist...). In short, they have created a whole new set of operating instructions for what it means to be a mother.


[Edited to Add: Mad has rightly emphasized in the comments that this quote is from a paragraph in her original post where she is using the term "mother" is a very situated and context-specific way, to refer to mothers who are experiencing a sense of transformation through blogging. In light of the overall topic of my post here, this is a point worth emphasizing!] (Thanks Mad)

32 comments:

metro mama said...

Here are a few of my thoughts:

http://riverdalemama.blogspot.com/2007/03/mega-meta.html

I didn't tackle the "who we are" part, but I agree with you and I've blogged about it before--I do think mommy bloggers are a largely a privileged group.

michelle/weaker vessel said...

Actually, I don't know how broadly applicable the whole "parenting operating manual" conceit is. It stuns me how much of the discourse in the white, socioeconomically privileged sphere of mommybloggers -- especially among the A-listers -- seems to be a clearly exaggerated parade of motherhood-induced or -exacerbated neuroses.

Among "normal" (i.e., non-famous, usually non-paid) bloggers, I find a lot of mutually supportive community, but a lot of the "stars" seem to have this shtick of playing bad parenting for laughs -- a rhetorical mode that's ultimately distancing, not community-fostering, at least in my book.

I see a definite division among non-famous bloggers, most of whom actually do seem support each other in a peer-to-peer way, and famous bloggers, who often seem stuck in a lopsided rhetorical mode that's heavy on the calculated self-deprecation (and whose commenters tend to respond more with unvarnished sycophancy, rather than peer-to-peer support and advice that assumes a degree of mutuality).

That may just be my pet peeve, but I've always been fascinated by the differences in discourse between top-tier and other mommyblogs. That may be a variable that your posse should address. I know that famous mommyblogs constitute a tiny minority of the mothers who are self-publishing online, but they are all too often looked at as the canonical reprsentations of the genre.

Ouch! I haven't thought this hard in months. Thanks, I guess. :)

Oh, The Joys said...

I've seen a lot of commentary around on this issue about the so-called "calculated self-deprecation" (sorry to use your words Michelle - you are not the only one to have said this) in mommy blogs and I'm not so sure I'm willing to call it a device.

No matter how popular the blogger, I think feeling unsuccessful and unsure of oneself in mothering is something we all share.

NotSoSage said...

Ginga, well put. I feel like I'm always the person who's saying this but I do feel as though the lessons that mommyblogging is teaching this mostly-privileged subset of parents can be translated, by creative minds, to those who aren't as fortunate to have consistent internet access.

Access is one thing, but it's not everything. It wouldn't be as simple as putting computers in front of them because I think that the fact of the matter is that mommybloggers tend to like to and want to write.

I imagine that a lot of people, privileged or not, would never feel comfortable expressing themselves in a written format, and so there has to be a way for an open, honest support network of this kind to be made available to everyone who needs it. I wish I could be genius enough to come up with an idea.

I think about this a lot because it is clear that traditional birthing methods, with some exceptions, are being accessed mainly by the same demographic of people who mommyblog: middle class, educated, professional women. Again, there are exceptions: some women who have recently immigrated to Canada from societies where midwifery is practiced will choose to give birth with a midwife. I can't say for certain, but in my experience many women in same sex relationships have chosen to use midwives because they expect that midwives are more open to non-traditional families. I would really like to come up with some ideas for how to engage those women who are suspicious or even unaware of midwives as caregivers, embracing them into a community that, almost by its very nature, brings clients into a network of other women (in my experience, at least).

It's been fascinating to read all of these posts. I haven't been able to put one together myself, but I'll see if I can get my thinking cap on.

Mad Hatter said...

Joy, oh Joy. I am trying so hard to keep my head down until I've finished my series. That's when I want to come to the party. But then you go and get all articulate and suck me in and, once I am sucked in I see you quote me. Thanks. And cool. Do you mind if I add a small caveat to the quotation you used? It was from a paragraph that clearly situates my use of the term "mother" as meaning "mothers who have felt transformed by blogging". I just want to make this clear b/c I have noticed that in comments on blogs that aren't my own, people have misread me and thought that I was making a bra-burning motherhood statement of all motherhood statements.

As for the rest, I am going to stay the course until I get my 5 posts out.

This was fantastic, though.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh, btw, I have sooo been there when it comes to taking the lunch order for the etext boys.

Julie Pippert said...

So basically, a party latecomer. Just call me Johnny-come-lately. ;)

This all sounds endlessly intriguing--especially to this not-as-fat white cat---but I have one question:

What is it that is the "assignment" and that you seek from "us?"

Links are fine.

Thanks!

Tere said...

Sorry, I don't know where to send/post my link about this topic, so here you go:

http://tere-tere.blogspot.com/2007/03/mommy-blogger-deconstructed.html

Tere said...

Michelle, I wholeheartedly agree with you that the "famous" mommy bloggers receive mainly sycophantic comments with no real advice or peer-to-pee support. I don't blame the blogger, I blame the sycophantic commenter.

At the same time, even though I feel I could offer plenty of advice and support to a famous mom blogger, I don't comment on those blogs, since I get the feeling that they can't sit there and read all those comments they get. I prefer to comment where I think the blogger will read it and possibly reply.

Julie Pippert said...

OTJ, I see Michelle's point (as you do). I agree with a good portion of it.

I do think *in some cases* it is a device and it can actually be divisive rather than comedic in that "universal human identifying humorous moment" sort of way. But I think in THAT case (the divisive one), it is more "faux self-deprecation as a means of actually mocking those types of people for whom we have no real respect either due to conceit or insecurity." If that makes ANY sense whatsoever.

It does seem that some of the most popular bloggers are very "me" oriented and heavy on the self-deprecation.

However. I agree with you that we all have our times of lack of certainty. If we tap into that, then the self-deprecating humor is successful.

I find some bloggers who employ that self-deprecating "neurotic" humor absolutely wonderful, either in a heart tugging or LOL way.

I find some others---usually those who I find "divisive"---absolutely dreadful, in an offensive and "I think I will quit reading you now" sort of way.

As always, Sage, yes, what you said, and oh-so-well. :)

ozma said...

You are entirely right that there are huge elipses here that have to be thought about.

Several things to avoid when talking about this community (for lack of a better word) pop up immediately. One would be if you were thinking of this as a primary form of communication about the matters that concern us as human beings, American citizens, women, etc., etc. Because where are the real issues and problems that face us as a society--almost entirely invisible on these blogs? I guess though, you have to admit--we can't be thinking too hard about those things and write the blogs we do. A second problem could arise if you thought of this as a community that speaks for mothers. If you think of it as a subculture (a white and privileged subculture) then I don't know if you have the 'speaking for others' problem. If you make sure not to make it THE voice isn't it OK if it is A voice? Finally, there's the idea the internet could be a segregated space. It's a little bit not segregated--but it is probably roughly as segregated as America. And that's even assuming that it doesn't replicate the apartheid outside even more in the sense that the internet itself is dominated by whites. (As it must be.)

One reason exclusion is particularly galling in feminism is that it claimed to speak for all women at times. So the feminism of the blogosphere probably does this but does the 'what I had for lunch' of the blogosphere?

I link to some single moms and some not white people. There are lots of great single mom blogs--and blogs of moms who are working class--out there and some of them seem to fit right in in terms of discourse but I think there is one way they might not: And that's that there are troubles and difficulties they may face that can't be talked about. I suspect these blogs are not good forums for actual, serious, ongoing troubles and difficulties that cannot ultimately be talked about in a lighthearted manner. (A few pull it off. A little bit.) Nor does white and middle class accurately describe me although privileged would. I think even if you get people from a variety of backgrounds, the space made by the genre is sufficiently narrow that it excludes a great deal.

Which is why I personally seek it out, I think. I realized after you posted that I was drawn to this realm when pregnant/postpartum and wanted to avoid some scary realities--especially my obsession with the war. I'm trying to think of an analogy but can't--to me, there is some kind of genre code and it narrows down the things that arise in a safe way and so obscures big and scary political issues. Who talks about the war? Compare to first wave feminism: Who even talks about their marriage? Who even analyzes their marriage or thinks about marriage or any of the social structures that underpin their daily lives, etc. Not too many, not too often although it comes up in little bits and pieces.

You know what's also funny is that I'm not sure that commonality is the thing you think you are getting--sometimes you think you are getting to peer into the lives of people who are kind of different from yourself. And, of course, find commonality of a sort. The whole voyeuristic thing, y'know.

I know you are not making this oversimplification but it's good not to bend over into the other direction: We are all the same! The people who are DIFFERENT from us would talk about really DIFFERENT things, right? Yes, the social privilege is almost palpable as is the whiteness and so on. But is that where the exclusion comes from? Not entirely. I think you are so right to talk about power--because it is the power of the rules and forms of discussion--shaped by social expectations and so on--and that might not change even if you did diversify the mix. No one's directly calling the shots inside the internet but we are responding to the shots called outside the internet and they are determining what's happening inside. (I know there are probably tons of papers about internet metaphors. I love the inside metaphor since it goes along with my absurd desire to escape through the internet.)

slouching mom said...

Replying to Ozma, who wrote:

I realized after you posted that I was drawn to this realm when pregnant/postpartum and wanted to avoid some scary realities--especially my obsession with the war. I'm trying to think of an analogy but can't--to me, there is some kind of genre code and it narrows down the things that arise in a safe way and so obscures big and scary political issues. Who talks about the war?

Really? I talk about the war. Am I not supposed to? Does that make me less of a 'mommyblogger' and more of something else? I had thought that the 'mommyblogging' tag was fairly encompassing.

I do worry that a lot of my posts are perhaps too depressing, because I am frequently writing about some of our more pressing societal concerns. I try to lighten things up a bit with kid stories in between.

Is the motivation to read 'mommybloggers' an escapist one? If so, I'm in the wrong place.

Her Bad Mother said...

See my post from yesterday, and the comments - they speak directly to Amy's comment (and will be the foundation of my next post)...

Sorry for the brevity - am locked out of my office in MY male-dominated department and the lone individual with a second key is a MOTHER who is off for spring break to take care fo her kids.

Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, and all? Send links to both Joy and I if you can - or comment here www.badladies.blogspot.com/2007/03/i-am-cheese.html (which is also where you'll find the questions, as well below in Joy's hot blog-on-blog action post.)

I'll link them all up in a round-up post.

NotSoSage said...

I also wanted to note your lunch comment. I am in a position of which they are only two in my office. The other person in my position is a very tall man who is 10 years older than me. My boss ( a woman) routinely asks me to fetch drinks, etc., for meetings and I *always* take minutes if no one else is available. His excuse? His writing is illegible, which doesn't really fly if he's the one typing up the minutes, but my boss doesn't question him.

Aurelia Bell said...

First, thanks for the link love as I had no idea my little comment would escape the confines of the comment list over there. So, thank you.

You mention how "we have not achieved gender equality in society" and I found myself nodding vigorously. This is unrelated in topic, yet not in theme, but my evals from students often say how "nice" or "sweet" I am. But...I'm not. And what does that say about my teaching? Would they say that about a male teacher of my same age and educational background, that he is nice and sweet? Particularly if the course was fairly rigorous and demanding? Hardly. They think they are paying me a compliment, but they're not.

This sort of perception colors the way we see moms, so that mom-bloggers must talk about their children and knitting and laundry, not the war or foreign policy or the lack of funding for fill-in-the-blank at home. It's like that Slate column, Mothers Who Think, as if they are a special, unique (read: rare) group of women because we all know we lose brain cells when we gestate.

Andrea said...

Agree w/ Michelle--shocking, I know, since I said the samee thing over at my space--that the "lopsided rhetorical mode that's heavy on the calculated self-deprecation." We all feel that way sometimes--but, hopefully, not all the time.

And I think that it's a potentially dangerous rhetorical device, in that you can write yourself into it. In the same way that calling yourself stupid all the time has a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, while I don't consider myself a mom-blogger, I also don't think that mom-bloggers need to restrict themselves to certain tones or topics to fit into the genre. I think if you want to scale the ranks you do, because light-hearted riffs about folding laundry and cleaning puke are the things that most of us seem to be able to relate to. But my own personal favourite mommyblogs are the ones that manage to break out of the mold and be serious, thoughtful, reflective, self-critical when warranted, with a good dose of perspective and a solid appreciation for small-p politics and social justice issues. I never read Amalah or Dooce. They don't appeal to me.

Now, to break out of response mode for a bit (and btw, thanks for the link)--

Here's the thing.

Some of us hear, from our earliest days, that we have things worth saying.

Some of us don't. Some of us hear, from our earliest memories, that we have nothing worth saying.

Generally speaking, people who are told they have things worth saying tend to be those with traditional markers of privilege (race, sexuality, gender, class, ability, education, and so on). I'm sure most readers here have experienced teachers, for instance, who are more interested in what boys say than what girls say.

This is double-edged. On the one hand, we've been trained to listen to people who speak or look a certain way; and on the other, we've been trained ourselves to either speak or shut up, depending on how we speak or look. I've seen this translate onto the internet time and time again. Even if you put a computer with high-speed access in front of every person on the planet, those who have never had the experience of being respectfully listened to are not going to participate the same way. and if they do speak up, they won't get the same response as someone who has the traditional markers of privilege. (With exceptions, but as in most things, the exceptions prove the rule.)

Which is why I think if we want to see a momosphere/blogosphere that actually reflects progressive, democratic, egalitarian principles (this is a big "if," but I know I do), then the place to start is in the offline, small, daily experiences of racism, ableism, sexism, classism, and so on. And to take a broader view of them than just the ... extreme and obvious cases of bigotry that make the news. Because if racism, ableism, sexism, and the rest of it, were really just a case today of a few bad apples--and the rest of us had achieved enlightenment--then the world would look very different than it does.

michelle/weaker vessel said...

@tere: I loves me some mommy community, but I am definitely not up for any peer-to-pee support. Ew! :)

@Andrea: what does it say about me and the weird hierarchical dynamic that operates in the mommyblogosphere that I refused to name names in my comment??? I did initially, but then went back and edited them out. You're fearless. :)

@G-joy and everyone: this is a really fascinating, vital dialogue (poly-logue?). I've been selfishly indulging in a lot of solipsistic nazel-gazing about it today, mulling over the implications and ramifications of it all whilst ignoring and neglecting my malnourished kids in the Honda Odyssey this morning.

They're not really malnourished! I absentmindedly tossed a few chocolate pop-tarts back there; I'm sure they caught at least a few pieces.

Also, I was drunk!

Seriously, though, thanks for the thought fodder, y'all. This is really interesting, and I'm already dying to see the outcome of this project.

toyfoto said...

I'm not sure what I have to offer the "community" except for a lot of love and a lot of angst, but for what it's worth, this is what I have to offer on the five questions:

http://ittybit.blogspot.com/2007/03/big-5-for-posterity.html

Tere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tere said...

LOL Michelle - sorry it was very late at night for me! And even someone as grammatically anal as I (as me? Oh hell, my brain is fried) is bound to mess it up when it's past midnight and the dog's been on my nerves all evening....

Andrea, you bring up some really good points for us to mull over.

BlogWhore said...

that gets me thinking...

Mrs. Davis said...

What an incredible discussion. I find it especially interesting that popular/star bloggers are viewed so differently than other bloggers, as not so much a part of the community. I think most of them are an active part of the community, but in their own established circles for the most part.

Also interesting -- the many thoughts on self-deprecation, calculated or not. I agree with Julie, that it can be done well or in a way that seems very divisive.

Jenny said...

There's a critical difference in this type of community versus, say, a physical space or even a professional community/space that can distance non-mainstream groups. And that is, many bloggers (most? well, certainly I) don't start blogging to BE part of this community. Rather, at least for me, blogging was a personal space to share my personal thoughts and feelings with an anonymous public. I didn't need to deal with the reality of other bloggers in my choice to blog.

That said, as a blogger, I have very slowly and very hesitantly joined this community. There are definite feelings of "insider" that I was not up on. Who are the famous bloggers? I dunno. Who are the popular ones? I dunno. Do you all KNOW each other? Is there some clique of blogs that most of you are a part of?

It is here, in the joining of the community, that the distance can occur. In a sense, I'm being brave to comment to this community, as clueless as I am. Here is where the nonmainstream may not have a voice.

And so, you may be surprised how many non-white, non-rich, etc etc bloggers there are that are simply unconnected to the community and who may not want to be a part of "the community" because, well, its work to catch up and figure it all out. Not to mention the very specific Discourse that is not approachable to all.

So I don't think its so much about access to computers, desire to write, or even knowledge of/ desire to/ and actually blogging. Its a matter of linking.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I agree with what Jenny said. Personally I've been writing in my blog for 2 years and only in the last 2 months have felt like I'm part of a community. Y'all took a long time to find.

One thing that's stuck me, in this community the moms have very young children. Do moms fade out their blogging when their kids get older? Or do you think that moms are self-segregating by the age of their kids (as happens IRL)?

As an aside, since we're offering anecdata: I work as a web developer for a fortune 500 firm (part-time, from home). My boss is female and three of my four immediate colleagues are female. Everyone eats lunch together.

Tere said...

I get what Jenny means. I found the larger mom blog community through a random link I found, and that was less than a year ago. Otherwise, I'd only be involved with the local South Florida blogging community (which rocks, btw) and would still be clueless about all of you. As it is, every time I discover yet another cool mommy blogger, I feel like - yay! - but also - CRAP, one more person I have to catch up on, one more blog to bookmark, there's no time in the day for this!. Mixed feelings, you know. Plus, while I can relate to a lot of mothering-related stuff, I can't always relate from a cultural level, and that affects my ability to feel part of the community and also leaves me wondering what it is I can offer from my perspective, because it doesn't really seem like anyone's interested in what life/parenting is like for a Hispanic mom.

Jenny said...

Another comment...

I think there are two major ways that blogging is transforming mothering.

One is with this mom blog community - all that you are speaking of. There is an emerging new Mom Discourse through blogging and, with it, the question of "whose voice" is an important one.

But the other, I believe, is in the act of blogging itself, even if the blogger is not part of any particular mom blog community, or considers herself a "mom blogger", or even has any awareness that this community exists and is simply blogging for her own, err, sanity and enjoyment.

The act of expressing your life and person to the world, as a blogger does even if no one reads it, is, in itself, a transformative act. We are able to, in a sense, story our lives in ways that inevitably increase our agency. We write about our failings with a bit of humor or with a lesson at the end or we simply just vent and we tell it to "the world" and, in those acts, we transform our own sense of mothering.

So I think the blog revolution is not only in the forming of virtual communities that create new discourses that change the mainstream. I think the blog revolution is also a personal identity-shifting one. It gives voice to the everyday person, just in the act of blogging itself.

Tere said...

GingaJoy, thanks for your comment - it means a lot to me!

Also, I wanted to add that at some point, there arises a need to take the feeling of community and friendship from the virtual world to the real one. I mean, on some level, part of my eagerness to make new mom friends is because if they live in my area, I would want to meet up, with or without kids. And I think other moms would agree, and can attest that they've done it and have forged real friendships out of this.

Bon said...

i've been blathering on most of the week on meta-stuff...and in tonight's post i got around to overtly addressing a couple of your questions, at least. there's a lot more i'd like to say, particularly about where the class and privilege and access questions come to the forefront, but for the moment, i stuck mostly to moi, just adding voice to the chorus.

thanks. :)

MrDrGinga said...

The modesty may very well be a rhetorical posture or trope, but I don't think that makes it any less sincere. As a mode of writing, most genres have postures that allow the author some distance: [Classical] "Sing heavenly Muse that on the secret top of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire that shepherd"; [Fable] "Once upon a time ..."; or [Comical] "Stonehenge, where the Druids lived and they did live well." It may well be something that can irritate, but at the same time since so much blogging is personal confessional, I see the pose as somewhat necessary -- an apology for what may not be high art but what is quite a significant voicing of motherly concerns, whatever they may be. As a genre, blogging is still so new as well -- no one can claim some kind of supreme expertize, including those who may do it professionally. And lastly, women's writing, which is always already politically charged simply because it is a woman writing (Virginia Woolf recognized it as such) is simultaneously and albeit erroniously often identified as softer, effeminate, and therefore inferior to masculine writing. How much more so would writing about mothering?! Therefore, I think the rhetorical stance is important: it is, as I said an apology (but meaning explanation, not saying sorry), because it is acknowledging how problematic it is to address, even in the 21st century, the identities of a mother who wishes to write about her concerns in and of the world that both includes and excludes her as a political entity. It reveals a desire to speak and fear of speaking should what is said be too controversial or divisive. I think it is also an anxiety since if what is said is taken seriously (or too seriously) it may diminish the person's status as auteur, just as Mary Ann Evans thought when writing Middlemarch and therefore decided to speak in drag as George Eliot -- to write a garbage novel as a man was no harm to his authority, but to possibily do so as a respectable woman would have diminished her ability to speak at all. I think even in this day and age women are still pressured to remain in the domestic sphere, and to emerge into the public is still a risk. Again, I think the rhetorical posture of modesty or of lightly addressing one's issues as less than worthy, is part of a response to that not-so-subtle pressure on women to return to the home and be quiet. You're that hoard of scribbling women that Hawthorne complained about at the start of A Scarlet Letter, only now writ cybernetically if you are a mommy blogger, talking about issues and problems that used to send men running into the next room. The fact that there are some who apparently begin with such a pose and yet write amazingly well and touch a chord (cord?) is great. I am still envious of every good writer I have ever met, and those whom I know only by their works.

And with that, I remain your humble and obediant servant,

Sir. Winston O'Boogie.

Lawyer Mama said...

You're right that we are a privileged "class" of a sort. It's true that in many of the debates about family and feminism, we're really debating changes we want/need that affect a relatively privileged and well educated group of white women. But here's the thing, if "we" (meaning this privileged group that make up Mommy Bloggers) don't try to change things, then who will? And maybe the changes that we make to society as mothers and feminists, will eventually change society for everyone. We have to start somewhere. In the meantime, I try not to take myself too seriously.

Here's a link to my post. I actually wrote it before I saw the questions, but it is my answer to one question - Why do "we" blog?

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com/2007/03/its-end-of-world-as-we-know-it.html

Lisa b said...

Does DrMrGinga always talk to you like that?
Its totally sexy.