Sunday, 6 March 2011

Good bye, mummy bloggers

I used to belong to a mummy blogging forum. I say, used to. I still do, technically. They've got my password. But recently, I lost interest. I don't go there anymore. I haven't anything positive to post, even though I'm a mummy, and I blog.

Really, I should leave it for good. Idleness will probably overtake my resolve, and their unread messages will steadily stack up in my mail folder.

It started okay. It was a forum where women went to spill out their innards on motherhood. Because parenting is hard work, right? Shit and blood, literally. 'Things are a little traumatic here, because never having handled a baby in my life, I'm holding one right now. It's this mewling blob. The one I ripped naked from my womb while screaming. Er, it didn't come out with a wardrobe of clothes, an instruction manual, or a car seat. It's making a weird face. Any suggestions?'

Then I needed those online forums. The world I inhabited before kids was one where I was in control. I could use my own words. When I had three kids, swapped office for home, exchanged wife for mother, lost colleagues and gained health visitors, then everyone else's words defined me: a language was given to me; other people explained my experience to me; my place in society was determined and managed without me. My change of status became a world turned upside down. Meanwhile, I slowly dissolved and became invisible. That's before we get to the emotional labour. Love, loathing, need to protect, urge to abandon, desire to run, screaming to stay behind. In sum, I know how important those online triplet forums became to my knife edges of in/sanity.

But there's this particular forum. I just don't want to go there anymore. I feel it's inevitable, having watched how things have changed. What's separated me from this particular place is not only that my kids have grown older, or that I'm far away from the urgent hours of babyhood. It's proof that the online mummy world has shifted, too.

I still believe there should be a powerful sound that rings out around the world about what shit and blood and emotional anguish is motherhood. How it works, what makes it tick, what society says, how society acts. Women's voices can turn the invisible into the visible. Women bursting with their own words can effect political change; they can challenge assumptions, demand services, expose social hypocrisies.

But this mummy blogging forum. I go there and first on my screen I see, How do I increase my stats? Making your blog pay. Top tips for working with PRs. Then there's all the products to review! And yet another post on how social media can change everyone's life.

What they mean is, not life, but patterns of consumption. You can model your identity through the products you choose. You can change who you are by the items you review, by the brands you work with, by the corporates you endorse. That's not changing a life. That's not pressing for political change, or yelling at society that they can do better. That's making motherhood fit the market.

But I've lingered on, complaining a bit here and there. Then, what finally turned me off was a post about how a blogger had tried to muscle in on a PR network using an 'inappropriate' approach. The nanny voice urged all the mummy bloggers not to be so rude. They wrote, 'Don't give mummy blogging a bad name'.

So that's it. The values of the words mummy and blogging are defined and policed. A good name in mummy blogging is not about shit and blood, bringing about change, taking on politics and power. It's about approaching PRs in the right way to increase your market visibility.

I'm done on this particular forum. I'm still a mummy, and a blogger. But not at all, I think, a mummy blogger.


kelly said...

Funny you should post this, I was thinking about how I am not really in that gang this morning.

I gamely tried to get in to the swing of a blogging forum a while back, but it just didn't work for me.

It's very much about making your blog work - bearing in mind I only just worked out what Stats are a few weeks ago, this really isn't for me.

Nora said...

Maybe you should call them 'mummy terrorists.'

Grit said...

hi kelly, i tried, but i can't stay there.

i looked to some of the mummy forums as a way of positioning this blog so that i could present home ed as a choice to readers who i assumed would be thinking hard about educational choice. um. the forums are being driven into a different direction where monetizing the mummy blog is of key concern. bitter? me?!

nora, i will do, under my breath!

MadameSmokinGun said...

Yay you! I signed on for some mummy blogging site too a while ago and they posted up my damn email address as my 'blog' name - so that was that. They keep sending me irritatingly instructional e-mails despite me having cancelled all contact (so I thought) Maybe I should look further and cancel this properly as everytime I get another email from them I seem to get another frown line. Anyway - I hate the idea that I am indeed a 'mummy blogger'. Yuck. I'm with Groucho Marks on the not wanting to be a member of any club that would have me as a member.

TheMadHouse said...

Everything isnt about money and PR's. I love reading your blog Grit and have for a long time, I may not always have the time to comment, but I am an avid reader. I think that I am a bit of a blog tert, as I love all sorts of blogs, craft, home ed, cooking. I love the internet for the diversity and dont feel the need to be part of a clique.

Sally Whittle said...

Bit late to this post, I expect.

I really do know what you mean - there's sometimes a danger that the term 'Mummy blogger' becomes tied to a particular way of blogging, a particular sort of blogger. And that sort of blog has become much more tied to commercial interests.

But I think, for me, it's about loudly and proudly saying we are women, and parents who blog - and that it's our diversity, and difference, and our voices that make us a force to be reckoned with, not our willingness to be the same and think the same and care about the same things.

For me, your blog is one of my favourite Mummy blogs - I know you'll always speak honestly and authentically, and often challenge me to think about things in new ways. It's what many Mummy bloggers aspire to be, I know.

(Oh, and now I have to sign in using a Google account which isn't tied to my blog, so erm, this is Sally, from Who's the Mummy!)

Glowstars said...

Mummy terrorists is about right!

There's a lot more to blogging (mummy blogging or otherwise) than that particular forum offers. I find the same old offerings from the same few members tired and very thick with their superiority.

I'm a blogger who happens to be a mother and I'd much rather keep that label.

Grit said...

hi madhouse - i love wandering about too, and often enjoy those blogs which are well written and opinionated; i don't have to agree with their line, but if they express ideas well, i enjoy reading them!

i think i feel uncomfortable with any group that becomes very cosy (or anodyne): i think lots of opinions must be swilling about and i'd like to hear them expressed.

in some groups it's very hard to offer an alternative pov, because to do so is taken as undermining some sort of social hierarchy rather than an attempt to draw out opinions or create a discursive community.

hi sally! you are very kind to be supportive, but i think you should say what a load of opinionated mishmash is on here as well. (that's the streak i'm most proud of after all!)

i want forums for parents which are discursive, politically engaging, inquiring, socially aware, unafraid of opinions, written in witty and direct style. (i would also like them to supply free beer as well.) if you provide all that, i accept the odd recipe for pink icing sugar candy biscuits.

i feel much the same, glowstars: same old same old. (i never tire of my own fantastically original and multidirectional output, of course ;)

Grit said...

mme sg - i keep getting emails from one forum too, despite going in and changing my settings to NOEMAILS eight times over. it is a sodding conspiracy to rule our computers, take up our time and fill up our minds to prevent us rebelling, that's what it is. dead cert.