8.03.2009

Yep, I'm a mother. Got a problem with that?

It used to be me.

I was the one who sat at my Madison Avenue desk (whch was rarely anywhere near Madison Avenue, truth be told) and thought, "how do we talk to moms?"

I was the one who sat in the dark behind the two-way mirror in focus groups rolling my eyes at the housewives on the other side.

I was the one who thought that moms were women with children first.

Last.

Only.

I could march for women's rights and write papers on feminism, and read Ms. Magazine all I wanted but while the women I admired I knew may have also been moms--I didn't think of "moms" and conjure up women I admired.

Mostly I thought of carpools.

It's an easy group to dismiss, I suppose. Because when marketers talk to moms they think of us in terms of that which we consume: Dish detergent. Hamburger helper. Tile cleanser. Minivans with cupholders and built-in DVDs. And why not? The vast majority are not interested in our hopes and dreams and mental well-being, so much as these things are a conduit for selling stuff.

It's why, in part, I'm so defensive of us. It's my own mea culpa. It's my own attempt to make up for misguided beliefs. that were in part informed by a very narrow peer group sharing a very narrow lifestyle. Kids? Those are for 40-somethings in Westchester.

Last week's AdAge editorial on mommybloggers and swag has stuck in my craw, and not because of the points in it itself, or because the writer omitted a fact that changed the tone of the piece.
But because of the nature of the comment thread.

The men in the thread (with very few exceptions) didn't comment on the piece. They didn't shed light on the discussion. What they did was attack the commenters. Because we are moms. And therefore we must be fucking idiots.

The comment that got me the most came from someone I may have even met before. I may have had a glass of Pinot with him at an award show or made idle chithat at an industry loft party on New Year's Eve. We probably engaged in the proverbial Showing of the Dicks advertising ritual and decided that based on who we knew in common and where we'd worked and what awards we'd won and what clever little spontaneous quips we could toss out on cue, that we could be seen talking together.

Maybe we even liked each other.

In the comments of the AdAge article, he wrote:
I still haven't been able to find any mommies I know who read these blogs.

They're all too busy, it seems, trying to keep Junior from exploring the wall sockets with the cat's tail.

And all at once he marginalizes motherhood, he demeans those who choose to write (perhaps radically?) about the important business of motherhood, and he insinuates pretty plainly that us "mommies" who blog reeeeally should get a life and leave the writing to the professionals.

(Of course he also uses the really trite and dated "Junior" as generic stand-in for "child," even while everyone knows by now that it's far funnier to write "Little Madysynne Kayleigh.")

Do you know what the great irony is?

This is someone who has earned his living (and his awards) from writing ads about Campbell's Soup.

For mothers.

Us.

I know what happens when a marketing professional insults his client. But what happens when he insults his audience?

Let me say here that I'm not writing this to create a pile-on situation in comments where everyone finds a new and more clever way to express what a douche he is. (Which I know you could all totally do and rather well, I might add.) He may be. He also may be the nicest guy you've ever met; maybe he's even a dad himself. And if we do attack him, we're doing just what he did to us - creating a charicature based on a few sentences.

I'm writing this because the comment is emblematic of how very, very damaged the the marketing and advertising industry can be in how it looks at moms. So damaged, that a professional can leave a disparaging comment on a very public trade publication website, and not anonymously either. Why be anonymous? He was proud of his comment! It was funny! C'mon guys, lighten up! I love moms! Some of my best friends are moms!

Maybe you don't care what other people think of you, but I do. I always have and it's my own cross to bear. And it pisses me off to no end.

I'm also writing this because I think it's exquisitely emblematic of why I keep ranting about how we have to be better (and probably better than we should have to be). More thoughtful. More professional. More aware. And certainly less easily dismissed.

I know. I've been on the other side.


92 Comments:

Blogger Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

Amen! I just raged this morning about professionalism in this arena. It goes both ways...if we, as bloggers, want to treated professionally, we have to act professionally. And if PR wants professionals to blog for them, they need to treat us as such.

8/3/09, 8:52 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Those who dismiss mothers, do it at their peril.
I'm assuming this gentleman was being interviewed from the 80s?

8/3/09, 8:53 AM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

Moms of the blog, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Don't let someone else tell you what conversation you are having, should be having, or shouldn't be allowed into.

8/3/09, 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Boston Mamas said...

Gargahagah! I'm not sure if I'm coherent enough to say anything beyond that.

This disconnect and disrespect makes me sad and angry. Tell us what he's selling. I'll be sure not to buy it.

-Christine

8/3/09, 8:59 AM  
Blogger Mad Mom said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. PR professionals need to realize that we are professionals and as Tiffany had mentioned, need to be treated as such! We are moms, but there is SO much more to who we are than just the fruit of our loins!

8/3/09, 9:04 AM  
Blogger momtrolfreak said...

Nothing to say here except, you GO.

8/3/09, 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anisa said...

Well said. Necessary to cut through all the generalizations and stereotypes people make thinking they are making a great point, instead they only point out their inability to look at what is really happening.

8/3/09, 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Isabel @AlphaMom said...

You are absolutely correct.

I haven't gone back to the comment thread at AdAge since Friday, but what I found were the those who were defending Lindsey by pointing out the author's lack of professionalism and the others just attacking those commenters for their comments implying that they were not justified (which they were) and making broad sterotyping statements about the mom blogging community.

Honestly I ignored the latter because it oozed of the sexism you describe here and like any troll doesn't deserve my attention.

But that's why I love you. You take it head on!

As a side note-- Ultimately, AdAge corrected the misuse of the quote because they were plain 'ol wrong.

8/3/09, 9:15 AM  
Blogger mommaof4wife2r said...

been on both sides too...and it's harder being a SAHM for sure, in my case at least. i do get upset when i'm dismissed, with all the education and knowledge and...well, let's be honest. the stuff i do every day really matters in the end bc my kids are not only the future, but the present. mr marketing, don't dismiss me...i may just have more education than you and i def have more time in the trenches than you so BACK OFF and listen to my friend here.

you go girl.

8/3/09, 9:15 AM  
Anonymous amber said...

Nothing brilliant to say (too early, too little coffee), but as someone also walking both sides of the line, I just have to say, amen, sister.

Most of my clients are targeting women, age 35 and up, but still have no idea to talk to them.

8/3/09, 9:28 AM  
Blogger Mommy Melee said...

I worked in digital media/advertising until I started working from home last year. The men I worked with didn't exactly set the bar for classiness or professionalism.

Many of them frequented message boards like 4Chan and played around on Digg. And the comments were pretty much the polar opposite of appropriate.

But I drive two kids around in the back of my car, so I'm held to higher standards about how I behave on the Internet?

It makes me furious.

8/3/09, 9:33 AM  
Blogger Mommy Melee said...

And thank you, thank you, thank you.

8/3/09, 9:34 AM  
Blogger 1001 Petals said...

I'm not trying to be a professional blogger, I prefer being able to be casual in my blog. I think a lot of bloggers write for other reasons than a career. If I wanted to get paid, I'd go back to being a designer.

8/3/09, 9:36 AM  
Blogger Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Great post, Liz.

Interestingly, I do not like being called a "mom" or a "mommy". I prefer to be called a "mother" by outside folks and "mama" by my own children.

I suspect it is because the words "mom" and "mommy" have been misused and spoken in such sneering, sarcastic tones for years that those two words have been ruined for me. Possibly forever.

The attitude that marketing takes towards us is just small glimpse into a problem at large.

8/3/09, 9:55 AM  
Blogger Tela said...

I'm STILL on the other side. And my opinions are often dismissed. And it's crazy. Because I'm a mom who works in the advertising industry and has been part of the social media "stratosphere" for well over five years, I'm the person they desperately want to market to, yet my opinions about ideas, tactics, etc., are easily and often dismissed. Ironic to say the least. To say I feel "mommy tracked" is an understatement, and in the industry I'm in, it's ridonkulous that they do it.

8/3/09, 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie Smirnov said...

Liz, as always, brilliant and fierce. Sadly, I've seen the contempt for moms Liz is talking about firsthand. I even heard a colleague say once in mock frustration during a brainstorm, "When can we stop talking about mom, already...that bitch." Well, "that bitch" is the purchase gatekeeper for nearly all U.S. households so this contempt from some of our marketing brethren is obviously infected with resentement and dare I say fear? Fear that if they can't figure out how to talk to this enormously powerful purchasing community, their own job performance is at stake? That said, I also have dozens of marketing clients -- male -- who have great respect for the enormous influence of mothers as consumers and dedicate their careers to better understanding her habits and needs. They're not all bad guys but sadly, the bad guys tend to be the mouthy ones who spew their negativity and disregard with abandon. (P.S. quick note to other commenters: the douchery in question came from an ad guy, not a PR person. Just saying.)

8/3/09, 10:09 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Tela, yes I'm still on the other side too. Although I'm not on the side that rolls my eyes any more. (Except sometimes, with love. Heh.)

And YES Stephanie, this was an ad guy, not a PR guy. I know far more about the habits and rituals of ad guys. Although I'd imagine they all share a lot of the same DNA.

8/3/09, 10:13 AM  
Blogger Alli Worthington {@alliworthington} said...

Just another reason I continue to be the official

"Liz GummyBear FanGirl"

Love ya, Lady!

8/3/09, 10:17 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

You! You are the awesome. I love your ferocity, and you are spot on, 100%.

8/3/09, 10:28 AM  
Blogger Tela said...

When you described the part about looking through the windows at the research groups? SO THERE. I worked on a popular diaper brand for years as a 20something. Now? *NOW* I don't. Doesn't make sense. And I still roll my eyes, too mostly at the brand re: the target audience description. Women! Don't! Act! Like! That! (Mostly.)

I used to fault my manager for taking off early (in ad world read: ON TIME) to pick up her kids from daycare (the HORROR!!!).

Ugh, to say the least this piece really hit home with me.

8/3/09, 10:45 AM  
Anonymous shriek house said...

Marketing is inherently dehumanizing: the very act of trying to understand the target audience sets up an us/them dynamic, particularly when the traits and characteristics of the said audience are seen only as channels through which to drive sales messaging. And when the target audience is "moms", already an undervalued demographic in our culture, it's just going to get more insulting and demoralizing for all of us. I really think in addition to blogging with integrity, we need to shop with integrity - our consumer habits will be the only message advertisers ever receive. Heaven knows they won't read our blogs!

8/3/09, 11:05 AM  
Blogger Miguelina. said...

Excellent.

I too sat on the other side of the focus group mirrors in my pointy heels (it was the early 00s - damn you Sex in the City) and sharp suits resenting the all-powerful moms and rolling my eyes at the boys who worked in advertising and PR. You bring back memories of stale pretzels and M&Ms.

In my experience, most of the big consumer companies (ie the holders of the purse strings) actually respect the purchasing power of mothers - it's the hipper-than-thou marketing services companies (ad and PR agencies) that treat them as a joke.

As you said in your response, oftentimes the "mommies" writing the blogs are the same people who approve the ads. And we're watching.

8/3/09, 11:13 AM  
Blogger jcaroline said...

Well observed and written. And yes, the professionalism needs to go both ways.

8/3/09, 11:17 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Miguelina, couldn't agree more. I was always surprised each time I discovered that plenty of ad creatives don't write for their client's audience, they write for each other.

I do not at all believe that focus groups should be the arbiter of good or effective advertising, but I do believe they offer learning that most ad folks easily dismiss.

8/3/09, 11:19 AM  
Blogger Mary Peyton said...

Saw Sonic Youth in Oakland last night and read your post first thing this morning.. 2 superstar ass-kicking moms in 8 hours - My head is gonna explode!

8/3/09, 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Amy Sue Nathan said...

Try being a single mom(figuratively of course)

The consideration we get in the ad, PR, blog and professional world is when we are scraped off shoes.

8/3/09, 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Leigh Rubio said...

Excellent writing here. You know it's good when your heart starts racing a bit and you start making comments aloud when no one else is in the room.

In situations like this, with ignorance and arrogance like his, I like to remind myself that I am doing the most important job in the world - creating two amazing human beings that I am lucky to be around. What's he going to have to show for it when it all comes to an end? Some slick copy and a few good numbers? If people don't respect my CAREER as a mother, I just have to feel sorry for them. I'm the lucky one.

8/3/09, 12:00 PM  
Blogger Feeder of the Hungry Beans said...

"Mama's got the magic... Mama's got the magic of Clorox 2!" That's about when I definitively gave up ever looking for any realistic and nonsexist representation of motherhood/parenthood/family life from the advertising world. Sorry.

8/3/09, 12:08 PM  
Blogger Marketing Mommy said...

Liz, I think you may need to to change your URL from Mom-101 to Mom-to-the-Mommybloggers. You're like a mama bear, making us all behave nicely and defending us from the lions.

Perhaps I've chosen the right agencies and lucked into the best clients, but I've found most of my colleagues and brand teams fall over themselves to get my opinion on marketing to moms, reaching out via social media, the works.

Could it be because I work in down-to-earth CPG-central Chicago instead of NYC?

8/3/09, 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a mom, a marketer and a writer. I am not a blogger. I started reading this blog for funny NY mom stories about cute kids -- light, entertaining reading. I am not really interested in all this behind the scenes mommyblog politics stuff. Just for the record...

8/3/09, 12:23 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Anonymous,

I don't take requests on my blog.

But I do write professionally for those who often dictate the topic.

If you'd like to paypal my day rate to me, I'd be happy to work on a topic of your choosing. Email me, we'll work something out.

8/3/09, 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

That guy's comment made me want to throw a glass of Pinot at him. Thanks for handling it far more professionally than I would have.

8/3/09, 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Rita Arens said...

I used to target my kind when I was in PR, too. It is weird to suddenly become the audience.

That said, I get that we're a segment. I was happy to see Ford actually show us the six segments they have for parent bloggers. SIX! At first I was weirded out, but then I was thankful to not be shoved into one big pile.

8/3/09, 12:51 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/3/09, 12:58 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Ok, I know you said to handle this professionally, and you clearly did - but seriously, the guy Craig who commented there? Idiot. Just an idiot would feel entitled to make a generalization about a category of people he clearly has no clue about. Because intelligent people know that it's really better to have the correct information before you talk about something (or someone.)

I won't say anymore because a comment from a completely ignorant person assuming I am just as ignorant makes me too mad.

8/3/09, 1:05 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

My chief frustration is the perception that this is exclusively a Little Hobby for the Little Woman. It's so dismissive, and even if the marketing/PR people claim they are aware that Moms are More than Breeders, the truth is, few actually walk the walk beyond talking the talk.

I'm referring to repeated incidents of people wanting to capitalize on mom blogger's influence and time by asking us to promote them (their product, service, etc.)...and we're supposed to be honored by this favor (but not compensated).

Two highly unprofessional words: Bite. Me.

I've worked as a professional (writer, editor, copywriter, marketer, PR, etc.) for nearly 20 years. Until now? I've NEVER EVER met people who didn't understand business is business and requires compensation.

I have a fee schedule and pre-written response to inquiries.

*I* haven't lost sight of the fact that this is a business deal.

Too bad I keep getting annoyed by the business-end folks who have.

(Had to delete and repost for typos, argh)

8/3/09, 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Jessica Gottlieb said...

I'd totally call him out for being unprofessional, but then again he's selling products that are completely incompatible with my lifestyle already.

So I'll just continue with my life of mediocrity.

Cuz, ya know, I'm too dumb to get a real job.

(texted from my iPhone poolside at the Tennis Club)

8/3/09, 1:18 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

If we rant, we're considered shrill, hysterical.

If we're silent, we're dismissed.

I say rant, but do it without typos or emoticons.

8/3/09, 1:20 PM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Most of the mom bloggers I know started writing for themselves -- a sort of transparent diary. It's easy to get swept up in the swag and advertisements, etc. But isn't that really a small elite group of mom bloggers?

I don't think we can classify the moms who just focus on reviews and giveaways in the same group as moms who only write about their lives.

I think one of the things that made mom bloggers explode (originally) was that moms are more than "just moms." They have talents and careers and opinions and problems and sadness and interests to share OUTSIDE of being a mom. That's what attracted readership in the beginning in my opinion. Wasn't one of the first mom blogger's blog all about bucking the mom image?

And, what about the other bloggers who do giveaways and reviews, but don't happen to be "moms"? Not all women bloggers are moms. And, are they being held to the same standards?

Maybe this whole thing comes down to definitions.

8/3/09, 1:35 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

Is part of the problem that you can't really lump all mothers together and think that a single type of campaign is going to work for all of us?

That must be incredibly frustrating if you are trying to market a big brand and really want to reach everyone. Maybe it is easier to dismiss mothers than to grapple with the reality that we're a big, complex market.

I also wonder what sort of blogs these sort of people see. If they only see the "big" blogs, they are only getting a small part of what's going on in blogs written by parents. If they really want to try to understand the dynamic in real families, they should spend some time browsing the small blogs, too. They should spend less time looking for the people to pitch to and more time looking for the stories that might tell them what needs their brands can meet in various types of families.

If I were at Campbell's, I'd be sitting up and taking notice. It seems that their adman isn't trying very hard to understand his market. That can't be good.

8/3/09, 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Cynematic said...

How very Mad Men of that creep who posted the dismissive comment about the very audience he's trying to reach through his ad work.

The laugh's on him, though. See, there's this fancy-shmancy term 'disintermediation,' and it's been wreaking havoc throughout the old media world. In cutting out the middle-man, or disintermediating, it means people who produce content can go directly to their audiences. TV, via Hulu, can offer programs online to fans of the show--so far, it's free. (Network tv is kinda making itself obsolete by doing this.)

The same also may be true of corporations--they can take their brands and products directly to consumers--*without* a layer of tv/print ads who are aimed at a diffuse mass audience, lack measurable impact, and are hit-or-miss when aimed at niche audiences. And companies can do this without having to pay ad agencies. Besides, with tv viewership both splintered and declining, and magazine sales weak, ad buys may not be the dominant way companies reach their consumers for much longer.

So perhaps the dismissivenes comes from a man who sees his choice middle-man spot in the ecosystem changing. He isn't king of the heap any more brokering consumers to companies and vice versa. He's just another player, and the woman with the purse strings, the voice, and the platform can be a player too--if we choose to.

8/3/09, 1:41 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I read the Ad Age comments and the article, too, and I am so happy that you are writing this post because I think you do such an excellent job of summarizing what's wrong.

I am a feminist scholar, and I studied rhetorics and ideologies of motherhood long before I had kids, and there's something humbling about revisiting my work now that I am on the other side.

8/3/09, 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Cynematic said...

Erm, that should read "tv/print ads which are aimed at a diffuse mass audience"

and not "who."

I do so know how to write. Usually.

8/3/09, 1:46 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

All the comments from "friends" of Lindsay did on that post was point out the obvious:

The author had written an entire piece based on a completely misinterpreted quote.

So really, the piece was null and void.

And the comments were sexist. I just don't think folks would be saying "Oh look, here come all 'her' friends out to defend her" if Lindsay had been a dude and her work colleagues had come over to defend her.

Of course, they'd probably just go right to the top and virtually kick him in the balls.

Either way, it's beyond insulting.

8/3/09, 1:57 PM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Oh yeah, and one of the comments I found really insulting was the one who said mommy bloggers were about "sharing meatloaf recipes."

Um, I don't even know how to make meatloaf let alone have my own recipe for it. What year is it?

8/3/09, 2:04 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Kerrie, I agree, totally stupid generalization. But then, is there anything all that wrong with it?

Martha Stewart and Ruth Reichl and Bobby Flay and Mario Batali have made pretty darn nice careers for themselves sharing recipes.

8/3/09, 2:09 PM  
Anonymous TerreNation said...

Hallelujah, Mom-101! With great admiration from a mother whose office sits eerily close to Madison Avenue.

8/3/09, 2:09 PM  
Blogger Sumana said...

Today i came across a post by "PunditMom", about how people judge whether moms are capable of being political or not. I loved PM's post.....then icame across yours......totally agree with you and you have put it in such a realistic way,i myself couldn't have expressed... i totally agree that motherhood doesn't diminish a woman's intellect.... along with that what really bugs me is why should we categorize mothers as political, economic,soccer mom, working mom, stay -at-home mom and the list goes on......... why can't we just accept the fact that we are mothers, each and everyone with our own piece of mind, a mind which has a power to think thus we have a power to express our opinions regarding various issues..... plain and simple....... Diaper changing and PTAs doesn't clog our brains.....our intellect comes from our heritage,education and motherhood.......yes... motherhood empowers us and enriches our mind in a different way that we didn't know existed before.
So people, please stop this categorization of mothers..... and just accept us as mothers or better yet women with brains and opinion. http://masalabowl.blogspot.com/

8/3/09, 2:14 PM  
Blogger @sweetbabboo said...

I have no words for some of those comments. I am just speechless and it's not because I'm busy watching "Junior".

I am sick, sick, sick of being lumped into a category simply because I have a child. I did not push my brain out through my vagina. How many more years do we have to wait before equal rights actually becomes equal respect?

Well, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to raise my little "Junior" to know that women whether professional, moms, or even teenagers are not lesser people. Maybe that's part of the reason I became a mom, to try to change the world even if in a tiny way. And when I'm done with my mothering duties, I will return to our public schools where I will continue to fight these horrible stereotypes and help crank out intelligent, thinking, and diversity respecting citizens of the world.

What was even worse than Craig's comment is the commenter leyarsan who linked to her BlogHer round-up. As a woman, I would have hoped for better than that obnoxious post. It just goes to show that if women can't respect other women's choices, we can't ever expect men to.

-Abby

8/3/09, 2:17 PM  
Blogger Laura Sweet said...

Nice and insightful post, Liz. I only wish some men would comment instead of all the mommies who clearly are reading your blog :) I'd love to hear what they have to say.

8/3/09, 2:54 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

Laura Sweet:

Not sure if I should feel honoured to so clearly be included as a "mommy" or nurse hurt feelings at being overlooked. If you cut me, do I not bleed motor oil and rare steaks?

8/3/09, 2:57 PM  
Blogger kg said...

To the Campbells soup guy: Mmm Mmm Bad.

8/3/09, 3:02 PM  
Blogger Amy B. said...

Great take on things, again, as usual!

I'm a mom in marketing (about to go into my weekly marketing meeting with the operations guys, in fact), but I must admit, I'm pretty lucky. I'll be sitting in a room full of men who recognize that women are driving the decision to purchase our product, and are therefore willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.

But I think we need to realize one more thing -- as long as we are divided (SAHM vs. Working Outside the Home Moms, non-reviewing bloggers vs. swag hags, etc., ad nauseum), we'll be easy pickings. We're bitchy and evil enough to each other without worrying about what "outsiders" are saying about us. Perhaps we should commend misogynistic asshole commenters for actually getting us all rallied behind a cause.

8/3/09, 3:31 PM  
Blogger Diedre said...

I always say that advertising is completley lost on me because I can watch a commercial or read an advert and have no idea what the product is. I think I've been so overly marketed to my whole life that I dont even absorb it anymore. Seiously. When Im in the market for a new car or something, then I pay attention for about a day to car commericials but then I land on a consumer reports type site and use that instead. Im interested in how effective advertising actually is on purchasing...but there is now way to *really* know.

8/3/09, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Diedre, I can assure you it's *very* influential.

But that's another story :)

8/3/09, 4:03 PM  
Blogger Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I was at a web developer conference last year at which one of the presenters made a disparaging remark about mommybloggers. It was fun to let him know that I was in the audience -- a "mommyblogger" AND a professional web developer.

On the other hand, there are negative stereotypes about pretty much every profession and hobby. (Ask my husband how people stereotype sales guys!) Does it seem to you that the negativity faced by parenting bloggers is more egregious than that faced by anyone else?

8/3/09, 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

I can't believe that in 2009, we are still dealing with this crap. I'm so glad that you're talking about it, so that in the future maybe Thalia, Sage, Bea, Willa and India can sail right past all of the stupidity!

8/3/09, 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

Wow. Step out of the blogosphere for a couple weeks to pop out a baby, and look what happens! Obviously I have some reading to catch up on...

That said, the marginalization of motherhood makes no sense to me. In centuries and millenia past, raising children was of utmost importance (even if women weren't treated as equals). I wish that the general population realized how phenomenally important mothers are.

8/3/09, 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Brenna said...

Great post, thank you! Funny enough that it took me nearly all day to read it between running around after my monkeys, um, I mean children. Like someone else said, I really dislike the word mommy. I think it is because it is so often used with condescension by the very people who want us to buy their stuff! I am a mama, but that's not what defines who I am.

8/3/09, 6:02 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I think that media geared towards women is often dismissed in general, and the way that 'mommybloggers' are treated is just an extension of that. It's why we have phrases like 'chick lit' and 'chick flick.' Since moms who blog are mostly read by other moms, we end up falling into that category. Not for men, ergo not important.

Yes, some of us could be more professional. Yes, some bloggers do things that shoot themselves in the foot. But that doesn't mean that it's OK to completely disregard us. I have worked with people who were incompetent or unprofessional in various jobs, companies and fields. It's just something that's bound to happen when you get enough people together. But I wouldn't dismiss engineers, nurses or teachers altogether because of the actions of a few. I think it's unfair that we're being tarred and feathered and treated as if whatever one person does is somehow a reflection on everyone. And that we can't possibly matter anyways because there's no way deep thoughts belong in our pretty little heads. Grrr.

8/3/09, 6:34 PM  
Blogger Susan Getgood said...

Well said, Liz. Funnily (as in funny ironic) I was going to include the Ad Age article in my post about integrity today, because they did the right thing. They were wrong in the characterization of the post and hard as it may have been, ate their words, issued the apology and edited the piece.

But I was so irritated at the sexist and misogynistic comments of the advertising guys that I did not. I didn't want to muddy the waters.

With apologies to Rudyard Kipling:
"By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better woman than I am, Mom 101!"

8/3/09, 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Nancy Martira said...

New rule: if you don't understand/respect/value mothers, you don't get to market to them. As a PR professional in this space, I know we've made great progress, but I also know we have a ways to go. We certainly don't need to put up with the disrespect evidenced by the comments of Craig Cooper on the AdAge piece. I suggest that we all (marketers and bloggers alike) vote with our feet and our dollars.

8/3/09, 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice professional response to anon. I thought this blog was for moms, not just mommybloggers.

8/3/09, 7:57 PM  
Anonymous maria bailey said...

Very well put Liz. Apparently this guy doesn't realize that the keepers of "Junior" spend more in the US than the entire Gross National Product of Australia, Spain and Portugal combined and if we stopped purchasing products in the US the economy would stop. As the most powerful consumers in the country you'd think we'd get a bit more respect. $2.1 trillion in annual spending is quite the stimulus for the econonmy.

8/3/09, 8:42 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Anon #2 I am going to afford you more respect than you and your soul sister Anon #1 afford me by criticizing me anonymously. And I'm going to clear this up:

This is my blog. It's not a newspaper column. I have no editor, no contract, no obligation to my readers in terms of content, no promises I've made to you and broken.

Which means I will, as I have been since early 2006, write about whatever is on my mind on those days I can eke out the time to actually write.

Generally I write about parenthood, parenting culture, or funny shit my kids say. But sometimes - as you can see in the list of favorite posts in my sidebar - it's about blogging, writing, politics, advertising, friends, family, pop culture or something else entirely.

Writing for love and not money gives me joy. Feedback gives me joy. Connecting with a community through comments around the things I care about give me joy.

When you decide that my blog is not suiting your needs, and proclaim it here, it takes away my joy.

And I think that's really unfair. Don't you?

If a post doesn't speak to you, by all means come back another day when one does. But don't come here and complain anonymously and derail the conversation. It's disrespectful.

8/3/09, 8:50 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I was definitely pleased by Ad Age's quick response to the column. The piece was amended, a correction was made, and I received personal e-mails both from a staff writer and Ad Age's editor, who said he was embarrassed by the error and said it fell well below their standards.

Interestingly, the worst response came from the writer, a "mommyblogger" herself, who wrote a condescending comment in response to readers who took issue with the column, took down the post linking to the column on her personal blog after I and several others commented on it, and left a voice mail on my home phone Saturday night (which is unlisted), stating that she felt we needed to talk in order to "clear the air."

Since the correction I asked for has already been made, I'm not interested in a personal conversation with the author- however, I did ask that if she felt the need to clear the air, she would do so in the comments of her column, since I felt many of you would be interested in reading what she had to say.

As for the misogynistic attitudes displayed by some of the male commenters? They're the ones who end up looking outdated and obtuse. I can only hope they continue outing themselves so that we all know exactly who they are and for whom they work.

8/3/09, 10:58 PM  
Blogger Canuckedup mama said...

I feel your frustration. I’m a PR/communications professional by trade (*ducks and covers momentarily*). I know this isn’t a post about PR, but I’ve seen things around the blogosphere that have made me shake my head. We should just know better than to say something thoughtless publicly or in an email to a media professional, whether blogger or traditional reporter. It’s almost harder for me to watch my own profession misstep, you know?

However, I truly feel that relationships with bloggers who are moms are as important to foster as those with traditional reporters. Any PR person who does not understand that will be left behind.

I think it’s blogs like yours, Liz, that helped make that change. The volume of pitches in your inbox (and every other blogger who happens to be a mom) is evidence of what powerful voices you have. It’s your voices that will contribute to fundamentally changing attitudes about mothers and who they are, no matter what the industry.

I started reading you in September ’06 after I had my first daughter and was going through my difficult identity crisis that – as you so aptly describe it - brought me from one side of the glass to the other. Though I rarely comment, I have read every single post since. Thank you for writing about the many diverse and important facets of motherhood. It’s what keeps me coming back.

8/4/09, 12:00 AM  
Blogger Mom-Friday said...

hi Mom-101, I finally decided to leave comment after following your site for a month now and this entry really HIT me...I do consider myself a "momblogger" and you articulated everything in my mind as to why I started to blog -- hope you can visit :) To quote you: "...write about whatever is on my mind on those days I can eke out the time to actually write...write about parenthood, parenting culture, or funny shit my kids say...Writing for love and not money gives me joy. Feedback gives me joy. Connecting with a community through comments around the things I care about give me joy." I was also in the Ad/PR/Events biz here for 10yrs and appreciate your views. Enough said. You rock!

8/4/09, 3:34 AM  
Blogger Thomai said...

I'm a mother working on the film industry. Commercials and promo's mostly so far.
What I find adorable about the people I work with who have not raised any humans is how overwhelmed they get by the smallest challenges. At least, they are small challenges to me, from my perspective as a mother of a 20 yr. old. See, I raised an artist through his teens and into the world of production and college.
As a single mom.

So, EVERY challenge that could possibly present in Film,TV, Webisodes, Commercial and promos pale in comparison to the responsibility and challenge that mother hood is.

As an artist and a business woman, working as a writer, director and producer
nothing has informed me nearly as much motherhood has.

The fun thing is, no one knows I am a mom until everyone is freaking out around me (men, almost all men) and I am the calm center taming the storm.

They go further into shock when they realize how old I am. See, while they were out getting drunk and addicted to various drugs du jour, I was being a healthy mother~
and it shows.

8/4/09, 3:55 AM  
Anonymous Bradi Nathan said...

Well said.. I've been fighting this "battle" for years. Why is that some men believe that staying home make us lesser of a mother or woman. We often lose a sense of entitlement if we are in fact, "lucky" to stay home. I have lived on both sides of the grass is always greener cliche. I wish someone would ask this mom how it really goes down! Soup?! That's for the nights when I'm too tired to cook and only have the strength left for the push of a few buttons on the microwave... My kids don't even eat soup!

8/4/09, 6:31 AM  
Blogger Victoria said...

I'm just going to say it- Was that Ward Cleaver talking or possibly an ad exec from Mad Men? Geez.

I agree with Tiffany wholeheartedly. Women always have to better and in some way it is as if we are not allowed to make mistakes either.

I found a lot of the same type of commenting on the NPR piece comment section. Except it was by female journalists who seemed bitter about bloggers forging ahead without the "right" credentials. That makes me mad on a whole other level.

This piece is perfect. I'm proud to know you Liz.

8/4/09, 10:00 AM  
Blogger Mama in Mayhem said...

your post rocked, and as one poster noted, i also feel like you're the mama bear of all mom bloggers out there. on behalf of everyone, thank you.

it's amazing how much motherhood truly can change us. i think it's pretty common to have misguided thoughts about motherhood before we step onto the other side. suddenly you hear people on your former side dismissing the integrity of your "new side", and it pisses you off like nothing else.

"It's why, in part, I'm so defensive of us. It's my own mea culpa. It's my own attempt to make up for misguided beliefs."

so well put, and i wish i could have said it myself. alas, i'm just as proud that women like you stand up and reject former beliefs about motherhood all the while trying to paint a stronger more valiant picture and rally the rest of us to join you.

8/4/09, 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Mold on the Wonder Bread said...

Wow, this is an excellent post. I admit I used to look down on the moms in my neighborhood sitting in the park in the morning, while I zoomed out in my little Jetta on my way to work. I had NO idea how hard their job was. Waay harder than my graphic design job, that's for sure.

Now I'm a mom of two who stays at home and writes and I struggle to gain respect from people (and advertisers) who look down on me. Hell, I think we are a witty bunch of moms who might just change the world for our daughters.

8/4/09, 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Jen Drexler said...

Amen, Liz.

I have spent the last 12 years in conference rooms and conference calls around the country talking to clients about marketing with women (80% of whom are mothers) and I'm happy to say that more and more of them are singing the gospel and truly "get it."

The most challenging part of my job begins when the client's agency feels threatened that we are part of the process or feels like they need to tiptoe around us because we are uber sensitive. To all of them I say the same thing over and over... Marketing with women isn't a social cause it is a business strategy and a smart one.

The commenters to the original post were acting like juvenile fraternity boys. Thank you for putting that into perspective for us and for calling them out. \

8/4/09, 4:41 PM  
Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Hon, honestly? I don't care what some random guy thinks about moms. Really. Ok, maybe it makes me a little irked, but I don't feel the need to prove to a stranger that I am JUST AS GOOD as he is. Life isn't a race or competition (for me, at least).

Writing blogs isn't something that you have to earn a "right" to do. You just do it. You can do it well or you can write drivel about fashion, celebrities or your baby's poop. But it's your choice. For me to worry about the millions of people who don't see the value in what I do and love and write about is a waste of my precious moments on this earth.

8/4/09, 7:21 PM  
Blogger Dana's Brain said...

Great post!

It is disheartening to me to read things like that, no matter who writes them. I'm not sure who frustrates me more, some guy like that or other Mom's who do that awful judgmental thing.

Either way it's not going to stop me from writing!

8/4/09, 7:56 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Tracey,

to you, he is a random guy. To me however, he is an industry peer.

One of my favorite quotes:

"If I am not for myself, who is for me? But if I am for my own self only, what am I, and if not now, when?" - Rabbi Hillel

8/4/09, 7:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Leave it to me, I began to read this post, opened the links to get myself to speed on the goings on of the AdAge post, read Mr Campbell Soups comment and formed an opinion and commented on it all before finishing the rest of your post...and guess what, he pissed me off royally! Probably because I live in the world of men in my career (hunting/fishing/camping/paddle industry - gaaaa!) and am known as "the bitch" whenever I expect more out of the guys I am around.

Needless to say - you Liz - continue to be my hero.

Blog on...to whatever your hearts desire, at this particular minute, with integrity and without caring who reads it (sorry anon #1 & 2, that's why I come here).

That's what makes it worth coming back to.

Love you bunches!

8/4/09, 10:43 PM  
Blogger Tali said...

Great post. As a PR person AND a new mom AND a blogger, I get it. I really get it!
Thanks!

8/5/09, 10:37 AM  
Blogger Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Fabulous response, Liz. This post makes ME want to kiss YOU full-on on the mouth, now. Now we're even ;)

This isn't the first I've seen bloggers misquoted in articles recently, and I'm sure it won't be the last, sadly. It's so very unfortunate, especially when there is waving their snarky fingers at us supposedly 'trying to take over journalism' and 'lack of rules' and 'unprofessionalism' from the same folks finger-pointing that can't seem to get their quotes cited properly, or in the correct manner? Ouch. Pot calling the kettle much?

As for *the* comment? Uh, yeah... insulting the 'little barefoot pregnant people' much? I guess we can add the shiny new 'Attaboy Award - For Excellence in Insulting your Target Market' to his sparkly awards shelf, now?

8/5/09, 7:16 PM  
Blogger Lolly said...

Damn right! Why are moms (and mom bloggers) treated like we're morons? Excuse me, Mr. Commenter, but you have a mom. Is SHE stupid and worthless? No? That's what I thought.

8/6/09, 4:26 AM  
Anonymous selfmademom said...

I had this same (albeit less about mom and more about being a woman) problem in the sports industry. It was just assumed that girls and women didn't know or give a rats ass about sports and we were just there to get in the athlete's pants. I took the easy way out of switching careers, but not before telling my sexist boss who was paying me less than my male counterpart to go you know what. I think unfortunately, in some male-dominated industries a**holes about. Lucky for you, you're smarter, funnier, and gosh darnit people like you.

8/6/09, 8:47 AM  
Blogger Hey, there. I'm Kami. said...

I don't know what everyone's so peeved about. I mean, on the two days a week that I work as a SAHM for my two little boys, I spend alot of time making sure they don't electrocute our cat, by ummm, taking them to the zoo, the museum, the playground, the lake, to pick blueberries, making lunch with them, reading books, going to the library, taking walks, riding bikes, you know, things that make me too busy to, ahem, read blogs or eat soup. Just sayin'.

8/6/09, 1:19 PM  
Anonymous jocelyn said...

What a great post; just discovered Mom-101. Where have you been all my life?

8/6/09, 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

I'm late to this (of course) but I couldn't pass by without thanking you for writing this.

For sticking up for us moms and for intelligently articulating and proving that we moms are more than just our used uterus.

So proud to call you my friend.

8/6/09, 10:24 PM  
Blogger jackie said...

Absofrickinlutely. Man. Why does "mom" conjure up someone with no style, no smarts, no life? I got a haircut last week and the hairstylist said "You don't look like a mom." Um, thanks? Er, I mean, piss off? What does a "mom" look like to you? Did not everyone on this planet come from a mom that look freakin' completely different?

8/7/09, 11:18 PM  
Blogger jackie said...

Absofrickinlutely. Man. Why does "mom" conjure up someone with no style, no smarts, no life?

I got a haircut last week and the hairstylist said "You don't look like a mom."

Um, thanks. Er, I mean, piss off? What does a "mom" look like to you? Did not everyone on this planet come from this abhorrent "mom" person, and do they not look completely different from one another?

8/7/09, 11:21 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

"What I find adorable about the people I work with who have not raised any humans is how overwhelmed they get by the smallest challenges."

Aren't problems relative? So what might seem like a small challenge to you might be a big challenge to them because this is their life right now.

And to the person who commented along the lines of how women who aren't mothers get treated when doing reviews/giveaways/whatever; all I have to say is that it occurs so RARELY for us that it's comparing apples to oranges.

Yes we are all women but when you insert 'mom' or 'mama' or any connotation of mother into your moniker it most likely will define your brand which means that you might unfortunately get treated a certain way.

8/8/09, 1:47 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Very true Heather.

Also true that I've been known to get overwhelmed by small challenges. Don't ask me about what happened last week when I was supposed to get a new battery for the bathroom scale.

8/8/09, 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/8/09, 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Pam said...

Great post. I totally agree. I come from the corporate world of marketing and PR and I see again and again how us "mommies" get dismissed or misunderstood. I really ENJOY my job being a stay at home mom and I just want to be respected for it. I'm like you. I hate that I want people to approve/like me. I just do.

8/10/09, 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Grizzly Kitteh said...

I don't know much about the feeling of being stereotyped a "Mommy" by advertisers, however, I do know all about the stigma of being a "frat boy" when people find out I was in a fraternity in college.
It would be nice if advertisers would abandon their obnoxious, boiled-down stereotypes... Either that or just be completely honest about who they're talking AT and not WITH by just slapping a 50's housewife up on the screen.

8/14/09, 7:18 PM  

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