Online Personality: Avoiding the Mommy Blogger Stereotype

It never ceases to amaze me how many people whine about being stereotyped – and then those same people seem to go out of their way to enforce those stereotypes.

I’ll give you an example of a stereotype: Work-at-home mothers are frazzled women with six kids at their feet. They wear baby spitup, the washing machine runs all day, the dishes are piling up, and they have a million things on the go at once. No one appreciates them, they bitch and whine, and they feel they aren’t taken seriously in the business world.

Before I have my comment section filled up with nasty remarks about how I hate women and my email bombarded with insulted letters telling me that I have no idea what I’m talking about, let me reassure you that I fully understand the hardships of both being a mother and working from home. I respect work-at-home mothers.

I cannot say, in all honesty, that I know what it’s like to be a work-at-home mother, though. But I’m a dad, and that’s close.

Many blogs run by women, managed by women and read by women seem to have an unspoken “all men beware” mantra. They’re full of posts and comments that leave me the distinct impression that these women wield their feminism like a spiked mace sword.

It’s scary.

Woe to the man that steps foot in those online communities of female bloggers with children.

On the few occasions that I’ve risked my balls to post a comment on a mommy blog, I noticed my comments were skipped over as if they (I?) didn’t even exist. Sometimes my comments get a sharp, snappy, “piss off” kind of remark in reply. Sometimes I’m absolutely bashed, and I have a hard time figuring out why.

I don’t understand that. Yes, I understand catering to a female/mother audience and forming a blog community. I understand forming an online personality. I understand discussing the difficulties of working while raising children and maintaining a household.

 

I don’t understand making male readers and participants feel unwelcome. I know plenty of mothers who blog and who come off as… well, bloggers who are mothers. They don’t perpetuate the stereotype of a frazzle Mom trying to work in a household of chaos. They don’t try to shave the balls of all males who dare to visit the blog. They don’t discount opinions from men. Everyone is equal. They blog, they work, and they raise their children.

There are plenty of blogs run by women whom I respect and admire. Laura Spencer’s Writing Thoughts is one. Catalyst Blogger has also recently caught my attention. Naomi Dunford’s blog is a blog I like, too. I know Naomi has a child. The other two women may or may not. Does it matter?

Those blogs don’t make me feel like an outsider because I’m male. I’m not afraid to comment. I know my comments are read. I feel like if I toddle over to visit the blog, my balls won’t be lopped off and tossed to the wolves.

Whether you are a mother, a father, a single person, or whomever you choose to be, be open. All individuals have something valuable to offer. Each person is unique, regardless of who they are – or which gender they might be.

 

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Hey James, it took big ones to write this, but I’m so glad you did. Look, I’m a female, but I don’t use that as an identity thing for my blog. Those psycho mommy anti-man bloggers scare me. Not because of what they do, but HOW they do it. I’ve come across some of the most clique-y and close-minded people when I’ve happened across those few select blogs, and it scares me that they’re procreating and instilling that kind of attitude in kids.

    Personally, I think it would be cool to be a blogging mom and have a guy that dropped by to give his perspective. Then again, I enjoy seeing the pot stirred a little, and maybe moms already have plenty of that going on among their kids!

  2. Susan, you have no idea how tough this one was to write. It’s been in our stockpile for two weeks, and I kept asking Harry his thoughts on whether we should post this or not.

    Last week’s fiasco not only made this post that much more dangerous to publish but that much more important to publish as well.

    I like moms. I like mommy bloggers. I like all bloggers, hell, as long as they have something good to say. I do *not* like people who man-bash. Or women-bash. Or bash. Period. Stir the pot, sure – don’t beat me about the head with the gender spoon.

  3. Yeah I had no idea any of that was going on until Naomi over at IttyBiz mentioned it to me. I have absolutely nothing against mommy bloggers, either.

    I think it’s indicative of two larger issues: there are zealots in every group, this just happens to be an example of that…and two, some people never grow past high school.

  4. The ironic thing was, this post was written about a week before the blogonfire fiasco we had.

    The point I’m trying to stress here, though, is that if you don’t want to be labeled, don’t go out of your way to increase the impression of that label.

  5. @Susan: very good point, “there are zealots in every group”. Nowhere is that more apparent than down here in the US. Too often people fight so hard to be heard they become the exact same thing they’re fighting against.

    @Jamie: “gender spoon” – that one made me laugh!

  6. Wow! Thanks for the compliment (and the link).

    I’m sorry other bloggers have been rude to you. I don’t really understand that either. Like Susan, I really didn’t notice it was happening, but I do apologize for those blogs. If it happened to me, I wouldn’t be back.

    It’s so much smarter to focus on what we have in common and learn from each other.

    (BTW, I have two kids and I do get frazzled once in a while. Shhh… don’t tell anyone… )

  7. @ Laura – don’t say you’re sorry or apologize; it wasn’t your fault at all. Thank you for the support, though.

    Heh, you proved my point though – I had no clue you had kids at all. You focus on being yourself and professional at all times, despite the temporary frazzling. *That* is what it’s all about.

    @ Harry – I think gender spoon is a great new phrase. I retain full copyrights on concept.

  8. @ All: I have cats, does that count? Then again, single man with cats…what kind of stereotype does *that* perpetuate? Never mind, don’t answer that.

  9. *bites tongue, resorts to whistling, and tries desperately not to make a comment…*

  10. I think it’s important for *everyone* to remember that personal opinions/politics should be separate from BUSINESS matters. I am all for being open and honest, but it’s not always the best thing to do.

    When I started HopeWrites.com I struggled. It was a “comeback” blog, after I’d been badly burned on my personal blog. I knew I didn’t want to risk that happening again, so I keep my blog posts as professional as possible, while making them conversational and personable (at least, that’s my hope/goal).

    It truly is a very thin line. I’d prefer to be known as someone who is positive and professional, rather than controversial and a know-it-all. ;)

  11. I agree with what you say, Hope, taking into consideration that every person has a different opinion on openness, honesty, professionalism, and what is controversial and what is not.

    But the point of the post (and the message I’m hoping to drive home) is that bloggers who don’t want to be stereotyped should avoid stereotyping themselves by their actions, decisions, preferences, and the impression they leave on guests. Mommy bloggers often complain they aren’t taken seriously as professionals – tough to take someone blogging about snotty noses seriously, if you ask me.

    The point also applies to any blogger, actually – those who don’t want to be called controversial shouldn’t post strong opinions on sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Those who want to be see as “pro” shouldn’t adopt a quiet “whatever you say” attitude. Mommy bloggers who want to be seen as professionals shouldn’t wear the chaotic household and man-basher badge.

    So – your thoughts on that?

  12. Side note for Hope: It’s too bad you were burned on your personal blog. However, the fact that you made a comeback – and have done so very nicely, might I add – is fantastic. Well done for not letting others get you down.

  13. I agree. Some WAHMs are very open about the fact that they are, and it doesn’t bother me when I read about their daily happenings b/c I’ve come to expect it on their blogs. Some, in fact, make it clear that if you don’t “do” the “mommy” thing, then feel free to click away and move on. Of course, as you pointed out, there are other “mom bloggers” who I know are moms, but they don’t share that part of their lives on their blog. As it was so aptly put once….”Why can’t we all just GET ALONG?” ;)

    …Thanks for your kind compliment. It is said that I was burned by family members. :) But that’s the chance you take when you put everything “out there.” People get antsy when the truth starts staring them in the face. ;) That’s okay though…I’m holding my own. ;) In fact, I do think this blog is by far one of the best I’ve done so far.

  14. I agree. Some WAHMs are very open about the fact that they are, and it doesn’t bother me when I read about their daily happenings b/c I’ve come to expect it on their blogs. Some, in fact, make it clear that if you don’t “do” the “mommy” thing, then feel free to click away and move on. Of course, as you pointed out, there are other “mom bloggers” who I know are moms, but they don’t share that part of their lives on their blog. As it was so aptly put once….”Why can’t we all just GET ALONG?” ;)

    …Thanks for your kind compliment. It is sad that I was burned by family members. :) But that’s the chance you take when you put everything “out there.” People get antsy when the truth starts staring them in the face. ;) That’s okay though…I’m holding my own. ;) In fact, I do think this blog is by far one of the best I’ve done so far.

  15. Hi James, thanks for the mention! This post reminds me of an article I wrote recently for a parenting-resource website. The article was on blogging parents, and although most of the parenting blogs I ran across were written by mothers, I went out of my way to include the dads. The website itself was marketed to both mothers and fathers, and I knew if I were a guy reading an article about blogging parents and seeing only mommy-blogs listed as examples, I’d feel ignored. There are plenty of dads out there with a lot to say, but not everyone in the online-mom community seems to see these guys as kindred spirits. Some of these gals are welcoming to everyone, but others use a more confrontational persona and guys often get the brunt of that, unfortunately.

    Anyway, I think business blogs in general don’t have much call to be rude to anyone–it makes them look bad no matter what industry they’re in. And I try to maintain a positive and welcoming environment on my blog.

  16. Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post before the WAHM incident, and I wrote it completely unawares that WAHM even existed. Just making sure.

    That’s the thing – Why should I be excluded from adding value, discussing or sharing experiences because I don’t “do” the mommy thing? There’s a blog out there (won’t name it) that I really like for its advice, value, professionalism, etc, but men are completely ignored.

    Ahh personal blog, diary style… It’s tough, yes.

  17. @ Jen – good on you. I agree, what’s important is what’s being said, not which gender is saying it. (And thanks – from a single dad. Including resources that take men into account is a good thing.)

  18. I’ve seen very few blogs of the type that you’re talking about…but I don’t go on the hunt for mommy blogs, or work at home blogs for that matter. I think that personal life and professional life should definitely be seperate and working online it’s easy to get the lines blurred sometimes. I purposefully minimize my kid talk on my blog (I think I may have mentioned it once or twice?) because it’s just not about that. If I were writing a parent blog though, it would be a different matter entirely.

  19. When I was in nursing school, there was a saying about how nurses eat their young (it refers to the harsh treatment that nursing students and new graduates must endure). It sounds rather gross, but what it means is that women are more likely to display passive-aggressive behavior or misplaced anger. They take it out on whomever they can- everyone that is except the actual person that caused their frustration in the first place!

    Don’t take it personally, they are most likely angry at their husband, ex-husband or ex-boss- not you in particular.

    Thanks for standing up for yourself and pointing out such unfair and unhealthy behavior!

  20. D@mmit man, I just read through this whole post and comments and no mention of WHAT blogs you’re talking about. Now, if you actually CALLED OUT the blogs you’re talking about, we might be able to have a lot of fun & some more hits around here. Somebody tweet me when theres more drama. . .I”M KIDDING.

    Eh, I can’t really comment cause I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Like, ivillage? Most men don’t like men-haters. You’re not alone in that regard.

    PS- No spit up for me. I can’t stand working when my kids are around. I pack them off to school and close myself up in the office. Am I still a WAHM? Or just a WAH?

  21. PS- have you seen derek semmlers blog? emoms@home-dad balance. Awesome.

  22. Considering that I write for a site called eMoms at Home, it is pretty clear that family talk is expected on our blog. On the other hand, I was so glad when I learned it was to be titled Freelance Parent, rather than Freelance Mom. When I stop to think about it, I am aware that the majority of our readers are women; however, my intent in writing is just to be myself and write for anyone who might be interested. I’ve never purposely slanted posts for either gender, rather I try to foucs on freelancers who may also be parents.

    As for the business vs. personal debate, Tamara and I are pretty comfortable with a mix of both on our particular site. I write for three different blogs where no one would ever know it was me writing, as I give little to no personal information; and I also have a couple where I share a lot about my day-to-day life. As you can imagine, they are written for very different audiences.

  23. @ Jamie – That sounds about right, actually. At least, that’s certainly how it feels. It bugs me, sure, but I don’t take it personally.

    @ Courtney – See? Didn’t even know you had kids, period. Plus, you welcome comments from anyone on your blog, male or female.

    @ Lorna – Family talk on a blog is fine. What bothers me is so many women saying they wished they were taken seriously as professionals – but they go out of their way to portray themselves as otherwise.

    Another issue that bothers me is that while a blog’s posts may be gender neutral (most are), the audience, the readers, and the commentators are not. I’ve left comments on blogs (and I always try to comment with value for readers), then watched the comment list fill up with a whooooole bunch of women talking to each other, commenting on each other’s comment and completely ignoring that guy named James. It’s happened more than once on that blog, so now I just don’t comment.

    And I read your Freelance Parent blog :)

  24. @ Allena – Yeah, I debated mentioning which blog I’m talking about, but I decided that would actually take away from the point of the post and focus too much on “Look over there!”

    I’d rather that everyone take a step back and think about the stereotype they’re creating for themselves and whether that’s a label they want to wear. I’d prefer that bloggers wonder if they’re gender-biased and excluding valuable readers. Commentators could think about how they behave too. Do they fawn all over the blog author or do they actively listen to what others might have to add to the discussion?

    I’ll check out Derek. Thanks!

  25. hee hee why don’t you just email it to me (evil laugh)!

    I write for a women’s network, and the owner said she is thinking about adding a male blogger/male channel. . . Sort of like eMoms at home has 6 moms and then..Derek. Like that- still unbalanced, but a voice nonetheless.

    Do you take issue with blogs that are SUPPOSED to be for JUST WOMEN. Such as http://www.alldivamedia.com. This one isn’t about Moms, just women in general, although I do a parenting channel, moms/parents aren’t the point of ADM- but women specifically are. Do you find that annoying?

    Another recommendation: Dadlabs.com Hilarious!

  26. Nope, I have no issue with blogs created by women, for women and that cater to women. Women are great.

    I have issues with blogs created by women, for women and that cater to women who believe any man who crosses the threshold of their blog should be shot on site.

    I have issues with blogs created by women, for women and that cater to women that are nothing but a whinefest and a bitchrant and then go on about how no one takes them seriously as pros. I mean, really – do they not see how that harms their own image?

    On the other hand, women still have it harder than men do, no matter how professional and cool they are. I’ll admit that.

  27. “Women are great”
    YOU GOT THAT RIGHT BUDDY ;=}
    You are killing me with suspense though.

  28. Wow, this is hilarious considering your own confession about being a woman is “nothing but a whinefest and a bitchrant…about how no one takes them seriously as pros”. You say you were forced to adopt a male persona to avoid abuse as a woman and seek reader sympathy by mentioning how you did it for your kids.

    Yet here you are in this post going on and on about how women are so touchy and extreme about male dominated spaces.

    “I mean, really – do they not see how that harms their own image?” I guess what applies to other women doesn’t apply to yourself.

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    [...] Case in point: My comment about gender spoons. [...]

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