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August 7, 2006

Blogs, Women, and Mommies

The recent BlogHer '6 conference was represented as a "mommy blogger" conference, with a subtext that all female bloggers (that counted anyway) were mothers blogging about their children, diets, relationships, celebrities and fashion - the traditional online female ghetto.

Quotes like:

One thing that appears to set the BlogHer conference apart from most others is that the event will provide free child care, an important thing given that many in attendance are so-called "mommy bloggers."
The topics include discussions titled "Is the next Martha Stewart a blogger?" and "From here to autonomy," a talk about trying to earn a living blogging. There will also be a conversation about writing about sex in blogs.
from CNet News.com are classic women's ghetto stuff. The focus on "mommy bloggers", and the citing of Martha Stewart and sex are big red flags to the stereotype. You won't see stuff like that about BloggerCon (which I missed this year because I was out of town.)

It goes without saying that I didn't go to BlogHer '6. Apparently they actually had some geek content - too bad it never got any press - it was just overshadowed by the mommy/girlie thing.

Then there was this, from another (mailing list) source:

Mommies Online: Another Feminist Revolution?
Berkeley Cybersalon
[date, time & location, blah, blah]
Sorry, but mommies online aren't a feminist revolution, any more than daddies online is a masculine revolution. Mommies have been around since before the beginning of recorded history. Managing to use a computer after you've had a child is not a miracle, it just means you can make time to do it, like any other busy person.

Between these, and the "Motherhood Manifesto" propagated by various liberal organizations, I feel that female technologists who don't have children at home are given short shrift in the blogosphere.

There is a subtext of "you're not a real woman if you don't make babies" that makes me want to puke. Damnit, part of what feminism was all about was reproductive freedom and reproductive choice - including the choice NOT to reproduce! Part of equality is not being obliged by your plumbing to spend nine months every so often as an incubator!

For years I've ranted and railed against "women's" content on the web: fashion, diet, celebrities, relationships and childrearing. Even decades before that, I dropped my subscription to a well known science fiction magazine because the had an advertising section that was literally titled "Of Interest to Women", and was so full of stereotype "women's content" that it made me see red. It hasn't changed, to the best of my knowledge.

I've had to stop participation in many "women's" organizations, primarily because they seem to devolve into catfights and "women's" interests (the fashion, diet, celebrities, relationships and children thing). One supposedly web trades oriented mailing list had so many "community" request for hairdressers, exercise and diet parlors, spas, nannies, maids, stores and dog groomers that it was like reading a webified women's magazine from the 5's. Coupled with the backbiting and political correctitude, I had to stop reading it, it was so boring and infuriating. I've investigated others, and it's the same old dreck: a living stereotype.

The only female oriented organization I've found where it stays mostly technical is LinuxChix. We have a few fluff posts, and sometimes the infernal childcare debate pops up, but the childfree women at least are there to leaven it somewhat.

Now, I will admit there is a place for mommy blogs, and daddy blogs too. The growth of a dependent parasite into an independent adult is something for both women and men to blog about. So is the growth of kittens, puppies, and your bowling score.

To imply that mommy blogs are more interesting or important than technology or politics is a bit arrogant. Really, the world doesn't revolve around you and your kids. But technology and politics will affect the world your kid grows up in.

Posted by ljl at August 7, 2006 5:29 PM


I wouldn't confuse media representation of BlogHer, with how BlogHer represents itself.

As you say the entire first day was all technical content, various sessions on various technical tools and techniques.

Day Two had sessions on Politics, Blogging in Academia, Business Blogging, and a whole lot more. Because we try to be a conference for bloggers, not a conference for tech bloggers, or political bloggers, or mommybloggers, we have a really broad range of topics...and many simultaneous tracks...so conference goers can build a conference schedule that appeals to their interests.

Reading posts about how the mommybloggers seemed to be having the most fun out by the pool isn't really going to give a good picture of the conference content itself.

I'm one of the co-founders and childless by choice...it doesn't stop me from being able to relate to other women who have children, and I wish we could all stop, as you say, the in-fighting.

PS-are you talking about SFWow above, because it reminds me veyr much of why I don't pay too close attention to that list anymore.

Posted by: Elisa Camahort at August 7, 2006 9:53 PM

PS-are you talking about SFWow above, because it reminds me veyr much of why I don't pay too close attention to that list anymore.

Yep. I got really sick of the hair salons, childcare and diet talk overwhelming what little technical and professional content there was on the list.

I actually wish I had gone to BlogHer, but I was so revolted by the media "pitch" that I stayed away, figuring it would be a waste of time.

Regarding the childed/childfree infighting - when the childed stop thinking that the world revolves around them, and that all that is worthwhile to talk about is *their* children, then the infighting will stop. Heck, I know "empty nesters" who get sick of kid talk.

Posted by: ljl [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 1:1 AM