Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Writing a Mildly Annoyed Letter to the New York Times.

According to Sunday's style section in the New York Times, moms shouldn't be working.  At least if you look at the article called Honey Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand.

I guess it could also have been titled Honey Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Making Ends Meet for Our Family in a Tough Economy but that doesn't seem as enticingly condescending. Also, then it would have to go in the business section and not fashion + style and that would just mess up everything!

Author Jennifer Mendelsohn also writes a blog called Clever Title TK which I actually mentioned here in my post about 50 lesser known mom bloggers, which she references in the piece. And I like her. I bet you would too. She's funny and smart and is great on twitter, and I'd imagine we'd love each other in person. But I don't love this article. I'm kind of praying that her editor wrote the headline and not her.

In the piece, she describes a conference called Bloggy Boot Camp that I don't know much about:
The topics on that day’s agenda included search-engine optimization, building a “comment tribe” and how to create an effective media kit. There would be much talk of defining your “brand” and driving up page views.
I know I wasn't there and all, but here I'm wondering - how is the agenda here any different than that at any tech conference anywhere, and why does that warrant a mention in the Times?

Oh wait..because moms were there.

And we're supposed to be home with our younguns suckling at our teats while we try in earnest to get our whites whiter, our pancakes fluffier, and our menfolk happier.

The best guess I have is that the conference was so marketing focused--and not content focused-- that it would inspire a journalist who values writing to jot down a quip like: Heed the speaker’s advice, and you, too, might get 28,549 views of your tutu-making tutorial! Even I've been known to eyeroll about bloggers who utilize the medium solely for freebies, or blogs that put SEO ahead of good writing. So if the point of the article was to illuminate that this particular conference wasn't emblematic of the best of the momblogosphere, maybe that's fair.

But I'm not sure that that's what comes across.

I can't imagine Jennifer was intending to slight the entire community of moms who blog, she being one. In fact, once you get past the first half of the article, there's actually some solid information in there, including a good quote from Amy Lupold Blair about blogging as valuable flex-time work, a hilarious analogy from Ciaran Blumenfeld (worth a read for that alone!) and some analysis from my author services rep at Cool Mom Picks, Pamela Parker of Federated Media. But I wish all that had been the focus of an article about my favorite blogging community that just made the front page of my favorite section of my favorite Sunday paper. I wish it had opened with the yearning of bloggers for the community to return to good writing, and the evidence that in the end, that's mostly what pays off, and not this SEO bullshit or obsession with stats.

However I'm afraid that in our ADD world, most readers won't get much past the opening snark, which continues to affirm all the negativity surrounding the word mommyblog. In other words, more silly mommies and their silly "expensive hobby."

See also: Comment #18 at Lisa Belkin's Motherlode Blog at the NYT about the article, from "Dee" who has it alllll figured out:
Nature abhors a vacuum, so these people fill up their lives with each other- telling each other how special their everyday thoughts and actions - and kids - are. And they are lonely at home with the kiddies...There is something pathetic about the clingy, needy plea for attention and affirmation. God help the teachers when the offspring of these bloggers get to school.
(I always love those anonymous blog commenters who imply bloggers should get a life while uh, commenting anonymously on blogs.)

Who knows, maybe I'm being hypocritical. Maybe I don't mind us dissecting our own thang here, but seeing it in black and white in the Paper of Record is uncomfortable. It's possible. It's likely even.

For Dee, and the rest of you who missed the point (or didn't?) and are wondering what else mom blogging leads to besides conference boondoggles, needy pleas for attention, and raving reviews of self-cleaning ovens in exchange for free product, I'll tell you.

We are:

Raising money for and awareness of childhood diseases

Traveling to Rwanda on Microsoft's dime to gather photos of hope

Visiting the White House to discuss health care

Supporting parents who have lost children

Interviewing the President

Writing best-selling cookbooks

Partnering with charities 

Supporting small businesses in a recession 

Consulting for Steven Spielberg

Hosting our own TV series

Creating art

Defining a movement

Penning memoirs

Running a business 

Giving comedy pros a run for their money

Giving back to our communities 

Putting our colons on display for the benefit of others

Helping inner-city kids

Influencing fashion

Standing up for social justice

Getting our groove back

Messing with Texas

Working for the man 

Finding the silver lining

Holding virtual hands

Raising money for families in crisis

Reshaping the media

Supporting our families sometimes single-handedly

I'm sure there's more, but my children are naked, dirty, and cold and I need to give them their daily bread and water now.


EDITED TO ADD: I'd like to include the accompanying visual to the article, because it's been referenced several times in comments.  It occupied nearly the entire above the fold section of the paper save for one column. It clearly depicts mothers neglecting their angry children in favor of blogging. But hey - at least they didn't show us wearing housedresses and aprons.


Anonymous Melissa Chapman said...

Have I told you lately that I love/adore you!!! Especially when you write things like;
"And we're supposed to be home with our younguns suckling at our teats while we try in earnest to get our whites whiter, our pancakes fluffier, and our menfolk happier." Which so succinctly sums up just how condescending this article was to moms who blog as a business and as a means to um I don't know just throwing it out there- pay for their kid's school tuition.
Thank you!

3/13/10, 7:42 PM  
Blogger Emily McKhann said...

YOU should have been tapped to write the article for the Times Style Section. In fact, they should just print your post as a follow up. Every last word. Great response, Liz. Thank you!

3/13/10, 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Now I'm going to find my kid some pajamas so I can put him to bed. There might be kissing involved. Alert the media ;)

3/13/10, 7:49 PM  
Blogger Mara from Motherofalltrips said...

So glad I read your post before I read the article! In fact, now I don't need to read the article at all and can just save myself the irritation and skip to the wedding announcements.

Trenchant and funny. Too bad your kids are suffering because of it. :)

3/13/10, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh, I love your response, (and alternate title) as usual!


3/13/10, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

I didn't read the article because I couldn't bear to know what they'd say.

I am quite happy to know what YOU had to say, however. Bravo, Liz.

3/13/10, 7:55 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm not a mom, but even I, as a blogger, find it insulting. Come on already! When is the Times in particular going to stop perpetuating the stereotypes of the women in the blogosphere?

As someone else said, you should have been assigned to write the article.

3/13/10, 7:55 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

I already feel lonely commenting on this post. Because I really liked the title.

I've actually said something similar to my children. Give me a minute, honey, I'm working, I'm blogging, I'm talking to a friend, I'm on a conference call, I'm making dinner, I'm watching Oprah, I'm being a human being with needs and dreams that extend beyond you.
I don't see neglect in it, I see wisdom.

3/13/10, 7:56 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I see wisdom in your comment Marinka.

3/13/10, 7:59 PM  
Blogger Nicole Feliciano said...

Liz, I'm with you. There was solid info buried on page 2. The header was sensational. But what would you expect...all the NYT readers are busy reading mommy blogs. They need to do something to get #s up :)

3/13/10, 8:00 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Yes, let's poke more fun at these stupid mommies who get together at conferences and act like what they are doing matters! Aren't they pathetic getting all dressed up and trying to talk all business-y and stuff when they really should be home disappearing under the weight of their children.

Fuck that article. Your response is wonderful. May we all keep writing and sharing and telling our stories.

3/13/10, 8:03 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

There's also nothing wrong with being lonely or lookingfor attention. You think a bunch of guys going to play their weekly golf game and talking about different swings is rocket science? People like to connect and be creative, too. Blogging can be both about saving the whales AND going whale-watching with the kids, and they are both equally valid. I don't think that Moms have to prove anything to the New York Times.

3/13/10, 8:04 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Nicole, that just cracked me up. Awesome.

3/13/10, 8:06 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Love that Neil. I agree. My reference to Jenny the Bloggess's hilarity in the above list is no less important than the proverbial saving of whales.

3/13/10, 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

So cute, all these ladies trying to earn a living!


3/13/10, 8:09 PM  
Anonymous ThatVanessa said...

Evidently, society hasn't let go of the "Leave it to Beaver" image of a mom. We are people too: We are women, daughters, mothers, sisters, lovers, wives. We have dreams and ambitions for ourselves as well as our families. Having that doesn't mean they receive less from us. In fact, our dreams and ambitions only lead to more.

3/13/10, 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Nina said...

Liz, I am so annoyed by the Times' condescending attitude, thanks for your response. We moms who blog (among other things) are lucky to have you as a spokesperson!

3/13/10, 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Boston Mamas said...

Astute (and funny) as always Liz. I'd leave a long, self involved comment but I need to go write a long, self involved blog post.

3/13/10, 8:22 PM  
Blogger Tabulous said...

I've been struggling with this a lot lately -- I'm a young mom of a one-year-old with another on the way and I find myself getting caught up in the stress of comments and stats and everything. But I was blogging before I was a mommy ... and I have to remember to get back to that, to be more than what society wants to see me as. Just because I have an active uterus doesn't mean I can't have an active imagination that spawns my desires and dreams.

Thanks for writing this. It makes me feel a little less ... like a bad mom, I guess, for wanting something for myself beyond motherhood, even if that something is totally built around the fact that I've given birth.

3/13/10, 8:25 PM  
Blogger The (Un)Experienced Mom said...

Fabulous response to that article! I personally wasn't sure what to make of that piece and I did read the whole thing. As soon as I thought "Is she slamming mom bloggers?" I'd read the next statement, which defended us, but then be faced with another slam. If felt like a roller coaster ride reading that thing!

And even if I spent 7 days a week trying to, I still couldn't get my pancakes fluffier!


3/13/10, 8:27 PM  
Blogger Amber Page Writes said...

Thank you. I thought they totally missed the boat on this one...I blog, I work, I am a mom, and I don't do it for the dang freebies!

3/13/10, 8:28 PM  
Anonymous molly said...

this. is. fantastic.

thank you.

3/13/10, 8:32 PM  
Blogger Mommy Melee said...

I can't imagine a piece running with the title "Not now honey, Mommy is leading a board meeting," you know?

The thing is, an outside-looking-in piece is never going to get it. I don't think anyone can get it unless he or she is in it.

Still, I think it's cheap to go the route of mockery, even gentle and playful mockery.


Anyway, the only good thing about that article was this response. LOVE it. Thank you.

3/13/10, 8:38 PM  
Blogger Tara @ Feels like home said...

The best guess I have is that the conference was so marketing focused--and not content focused-- that it would inspire a journalist who values writing to jot down a quip like: Heed the speaker’s advice, and you, too, might get 28,549 views of your tutu-making tutorial!

That's not the case at all. Bloggy Boot Camp was focused primarily on helping new bloggers to improve their craft. Was there talk of marketing, working with PR, getting paid for product reviews? Yes. Was there talk of building a community, making a meaningful contribution to the blogosphere, and reaching out to form real frienships? Yes. But Bloggy Boot Camp was so much more than that.

I am "the speaker" about whom Jennifer quipped. I was speaking about SEO. I gave 10 tips to help bloggers to improve their SEO while still maintaining the quality and integrity of their blogs... but Jennifer couldn't be bothered to mention that.

During my presentation, I mentioned over and over and over that good SEO can't ever come before good writing, that some (really valuable and important) posts aren't worth working on in terms of SEO, that SEO is most appropriate for niche blogs that have widely useful content (for which people will be searching - like how to make a no-sew tutu). I implored the participants to read over their posts after they've added keywords to make sure that the writing is natural. I told them that they can't sound forced, that keywords can't dominate the writing.

Yes, I shared that my tutu tutorial had been visited 28,459 times from Google searches. Out of context, the number looks silly. In context, it made the point that useful, how-to content sees significant success if written with SEO in mind.

What irked me more than Jennifer's offhanded remark about my presentation and more than her offensively condescending tone was her insincerity. She found a community of warmth and friendship and validation. The bloggers at this conference welcomed Jennifer into their circle. She asked for their time, their thoughts, and their trust. She requested explanation and follow up by email. In return, she chided, sneered, and marginalized.

I do feel slighted. We all should.

3/13/10, 8:46 PM  
Blogger kgirl said...

Sigh. The longer I blog, the more I realize that people either get it, or they don't. And I've never been very good at trying to appease either group.

Great response. More diplomatic than I could ever be.

3/13/10, 8:46 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Excellent post, as usual. Love the links at the end.

I would be willing to bet that the writer didn't dream up the article title - the editor usually does that. I've had articles skewed by bad titles in the past, and it makes me crazy. But if the NYT wanted to publish me, I'd let them call my article any ole thing at all.

3/13/10, 8:55 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I really really appreciate your pov, Tara. Thank you so much for the clarity and the other side of the story.

I've actually been surprised at the number of tweets in the #bloggybootcamp that seem excited by an article that was clearly maligning the event.

PS I'm all for crafting tutorials - heck, my mom made a no sew tutu for our own kids. I wonder if she found the instructions on your blog!

3/13/10, 8:56 PM  
Blogger Kelby said...

Great post! It makes it so much worse that a mom blogger wrote it. Why should a tech/blogging conference even discuss what she suggests in her lead:

"ON a brisk Saturday morning this month, a dedicated crew of about 90 women, most in their 30s or thereabouts, arrived at a waterfront hotel here, prepared for a daylong conference that offered to school them in the latest must-have skill set for the minivan crowd.

Teaching your baby to read? Please. How to hide vegetables in your children’s food? Oh, that’s so 2008."

Why is it moms are only supposed to talk about wiping butts? This is incredibly insulting. I also don't understand why New York Times constantly insists on publishing articles demeaning to mom bloggers. I was a newspaper reporter for 15 years, and we used to call it bias. Or, I don't know, an editorial. Not news content.

Pardon me for having a brain AND having children. Oh, the horror. I guess I will return to my appropriate state of barefootedness and go fix my husband a turkey pot pie before he slaps me around.

3/13/10, 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Isabel @AlphaMom said...

Thanks for responding formally. Because, the sad part is that I'm just unfazed by these articles now.

The NY and DC publications are notorious for stoking mommy war flames.

The irony is that the NYT is poking fun at mommy blogs and their focus on business under the auspice of discussing their families when in fact they are using editorial and snark under the guise of journalism.

Sorry NYT, I will not let you ruin my day. Or my hour. Or my moment.

3/13/10, 8:59 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks for this.

3/13/10, 9:01 PM  
Blogger Haley Quarles said...

Thank you a thousand times over for writing this!

I could have never said it this well, but I was certainly thinking along these EXACT same lines.

I read this out loud to my husband (who is super thankful that I supplement our income via blogging), and we were both rolling over the fluffy pancakes and dirty children bits.

Thank you so much for acknowledging that what mom bloggers are doing matters, and that they are helping to feed their families in the process.

: )

3/13/10, 9:02 PM  
Blogger Candace April said...

This is basically what I've been saying: condescending title and opening, some good info and quotes after that. And I've also said that I suspect an editorial hatchet job...or maybe I'm just hopeful...or naive. I've been accused of that before.

You pretty much said what I think about the situation, with your usual panache.


I do think there is something to be said about Internet addiction and how it affects the parenting of both moms and dads, and not by any means just those who blog... but that is not what this article was about.

3/13/10, 9:05 PM  
Blogger melissa said...

thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for writing this!
There are so many positive things that mommybloggers are doing -- so much that totally outweighs any negative, condescending press -- that make me PROUD to be a mommyblogger. Thanks for highlighting all of that as well. It was the perfect response to that snarky headline!

3/13/10, 9:08 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

The people blogging because it is a place to write our stories never seem to get the attention. I would say I am shocked, but nope, I've come to expect it.
Men have conferences for hunting, fishing, RV's, sports, etc. There are home and garden shows, women's shows, food & wine shows, scrap booking, stamping, etc. All of these have multiple incarnations in cities around the country. They get 6 PM evening news coverage.
However, women use technology to write, connect, and yes, even make money, and this is how it gets treated.
PS. Anyone want to join my tribe? ;)

3/13/10, 9:12 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Count me in Amelia!

3/13/10, 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

I caught the article before I had my morning coffee. Not the wisest reading choice before I'm fully caffeinated, I suppose.

I am beyond weary of traditional media outlets mocking women blogging. I am disappointed with the Times for this tripe and slightly disgusted that a blogger herself would write it.

Thank you for the thoughtful rebuttal. You know, on behalf of all us child-neglecting silly women bloggers.

3/13/10, 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Unplanned Cooking said...

I actually think I've become a better mom through blogging. Because motherhood is tough, and having an outlet soothes the anxieties that go with it. And writing, I think, gives me an opportunity to process what I'm feeling, and see the beauty + humor in it.

3/13/10, 9:16 PM  
Blogger debi9kids said...

I too attended boot camp and was thoroughly depressed by the article. I was interviewed by Jennifer for a LONG time. She sat next to me at lunch and then interviewed me for atleast 20 minutes afterward to discuss the fundraising I do on my blog for Pediatric Cancer Research (I host the Tuesday Blog Party in honor of Tuesday Whitt who died from Neuroblastoma in Jan '08). We talked about it in great detail and there was NO mention of me, my blog or the fundraising.
Instead, it poked fun.

Jennifer just turned out to be another "typical" NY Times writer....

3/13/10, 9:21 PM  
Blogger Clark Kent's Lunchbox said...

"marketing focused--and not content focused" this is exactly the concern I have for a lot of daddy-bloggers intent on closing in on the mommies (of course, I don't think a concerted effort aimed specifically at closing the gap is necessarily a good idea, but I digress).

My fear is that dads view these marketing-focused, freebie, QVC mom blogs as what mommy blogging is all about, and as such, they are pattering their own blogs after this misperception with the idea that they will make "millions" too. (I've had a number of dads share with me their frustration at not being able to generate money from their blogs.)

With either mom or dads, this type of blogging misrepresent what blogging can truly accomplish (as you've pointed out in your list of examples). Taken to an extreme, such a mentality could potentially create a general impression that parent blogging is synonymous with consumerism.

...ehh, whadda ya gonna do? [shrug]

3/13/10, 9:22 PM  
Anonymous That Danielle said...

It's clear how serious the NY Tines does NOT take female bloggers or mothers because this was in the style section. Style? Really? This is a trend like ankle booties?

They are such linkbaiters it's not even funny.

3/13/10, 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Stacia said...

And they wonder why their circulation and profits are down. Sounds like they chose to spin the article to appeal to non-mom bloggers (and mom-blog haters). The bottom line is, after all, the bottom line. Objective reporting optional.

3/13/10, 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

You know, I was so happy for Ciaran (a good friend of mine) being quoted in the NYT I didn't even read the article at first - just her quote when it first came out. But I went back and read it again soon, and I was appalled for all the reasons you so eloquently suggested.

I didn't enjoy the "look at what these mommies are doing NOW" tone of the article. And I'm wondering if the editors would've asked for a rewrite had a MAN written the exact same story.

As a former newspaper journalist, I always like to give the writer the benefit of the doubt. I have written critical stories even though the people have been nice to me. It happens. You have to report what you see. Maybe she was too close to the story, being a mom blogger herself?

Anyway. I ramble. I guess I'd like to see what she would say in response.

Oh - you probably know this, but usually editors write the headlines, tho writers can suggest one.

3/13/10, 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Laura (@chambanalaura) said...

I had the exact same take on the article as many of you - snarky in the beginning, then good information in the second half. It was as if this woman prepared the second half first and then remembered that she wrote for the Times style section, and therefore couldn't actually present an article only based on fact.

This article also smacked me in the face about the fear the mainstream media has of bloggers, particularly female bloggers, who are challenging them every day for readership and advertising dollars.

3/13/10, 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have kids or a blog, nor am I a regular reader of this community’s offerings. I am a full-time journalist (not for the NYT) who comes here as a friend of Jennifer Mendelsohn who is neither a mommy nor a blogger, and found her article a revelatory look at a world I knew nothing about.

This story is written for people who aren't mommybloggers. Most of us readers have never even read an article about mommybloggers. If you're a mommyblogger (is that word cool or not?), well, then you're already pretty deep into the subculture, and you already know its ways and habits and in-house debates. This story is probably not for you. For the rest of us, frankly, it's news that your subculture exists. We're not reading the story and concluding "ooh, some bloggers who are mothers are taking swag, this is terrible!" We're reading it and thinking, "huh, an interesting world, who knew?" And seriously, we'd be equally amused/enlightened if this were a story about teenage bloggers or senior-citizen bloggers or Civil War-reenactor bloggers or yes, even daddybloggers learning about brand promotion or search-engine optimization -- because the vast majority of us DON'T have blogs and are surprised by the effort and professionalism that go into them.

Er, what was my point? Oh, just that every subculture is crazy-sensitive about what gets written about them. It's too close to home. If you take, like, 15 steps back, you'll realize this story is fine, and fair. So chill.

3/13/10, 9:50 PM  
Anonymous SelfishMom said...

I'm torn about what to think. If I'd been reading it on her blog I probably would have trusted it more and assumed that I was reading her actual opinion. But she's getting paid by the Times (I hope), and they might have had very definite ideas about how they wanted the article to sound. And turning down a paycheck can be hard.

The same post on her own blog? I would have had some choice words for her condescension.

3/13/10, 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahahahaa, people didn't know mommybloggers existed!

That's rich!

I've known about "mommybloggers" since before I was a mommy. It's been all I've ever read.

If you've heard of Dooce, you've heard of mommybloggers.

3/13/10, 10:00 PM  
Blogger Scary Mommy said...

Such a disappointing piece in so many ways. Most of all? That I, too, like Jennifer. Could be friends with her. In a second.

The article wasn't bad. It could have been much, much worse. But the fact that it was written by ONE OF US feels like a betrayal. And a giant step backwards. For what?

3/13/10, 10:07 PM  
Blogger Family Sized Fun said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/13/10, 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Ms. Mary Mack said...

I'll keep it short and real-sugar sweet: First-class post. I especially appreciate the list/links of mommy bloggers who are doing the damn thing. As a brand new mommy blogger, I thank you, Liz, for setting folks straight on what it is we're doing in this here fine, fine "subculture" (Yeah, what up, anonymous? Have I taken the suggested 15 steps back?)

3/13/10, 10:11 PM  
Blogger ElisaC said...

Just wanted to share a tidbit, particularly for Anonymous. In fact, blogging and social media *are* now mainstream activities. More than half of American women online participate in social media weekly...Facebook, Twitter and yes, reading writing and commenting on blogs.

I just think it's disconcerting for media sources, who know this data, to continue to marginalize it. Wonder why they do?

3/13/10, 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

So, I like Marinka am feeling lonely...I liked the article. I also liked your post - as opposite as they are. Tara said, "She found a community of warmth and friendship and validation" and quite honestly that's what I got from the article. I let the title slide by me because trying to sensationalize an article to get readers isn't anything new and I ignored the fact that it was in the Style section because I read the NYT online so it didn't even occur to me...I went right to the community of women. The wonder of women coming together to help each other build better businesses. That is what I love about this community and so, I guess that's what I chose to hear when I read it.

3/13/10, 10:12 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I just want to say I don't think we have to stoop to insults here, even as we disagree with the article - or even if you disagree with me. I think Jennifer is a fantastic writer; in fact, I might be less bothered if the article wasn't so clever.

I have no reason to believe "anonymous" is Jennifer. Jennifer and I have emailed a bit about this. She stands behind her article and I don't believe for a second she'd stoop to faking supportive comments for herself so let's let that theory die.

3/13/10, 10:15 PM  
Blogger Marketing Mommy said...

Every time the NYT writes about moms I get annoyed. First their "babywearing is trendy" story earlier this week and now this?

It's amazing how they can write about two subjects near and dear to my heart and make me want to disassociate myself from both.

Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful response. I need to throw my 2 year old in the Ergo and go do something blogworthy.

3/13/10, 10:16 PM  
Anonymous lagunatic said...

I don't know about you guys, but I'm just in it for the upcomming BlogHer conference where I finally get to meet my little (but immensely powerful) blog/twitter gang so we can get our drink on while someone else watches our young'uns.

I just hope the someone else who's watching our young'uns doesn't try to stick a random teat in 'em.

3/13/10, 10:17 PM  
Blogger The mad woman behind the blog said...

Thank you. I had read this article this morning and couldn't put my finger on why it irked me but you got it.

3/13/10, 10:19 PM  
Blogger Krystyn said...

As a teacher, I'm not worried at all about kids that have to entertain themselves, and read and learn sometimes while moms get things done. I'm worried about the kids who have parents that don't know where their kids are or that they are on their phone/computer/video game for 9 hours a day.

It's disturbing that moms are shunned for helping provide for their families or having a different creative outlet.

Apparently, times aren't allowed to change. We are getting the same backlash that the first generation of women working outside of the home got.

Now, I'd appreciate it if you'd go ahead and give me affirmation in my comment, because, you know, my life might not go on without it.

3/13/10, 10:19 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

Considered commenting on the comments, but that never gets me anywhere and I'm too tired and sick tonight to fight.

Instead I will tell you that I adore this post. I am with you on this. God forbid mom's should do anything except be moms. Sigh. I think that each time one of these articles comes out, trying to make us all look bad or like we are some big joke, it just proves too me again, how much I adore this amazing community. Because I know the truth about the women in this community, I've seen it for years.

I love, love, love that you gave examples to a few of the amazing things that have happened/are happening in this community lately. I think it's important for everyone to see. You did good Liz. Truly.

3/13/10, 10:28 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Fist to the chest, Krystyn!

3/13/10, 10:29 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Yet more proof that you rock eight ways from Tuesday. (I don't know what that means. But I like how it sounds.)

Great points. I don't think I would have gotten there, because I am still fixated on the fact that they always put articles on women blogging in the Style section. Not business, not media, not even entertainment...but Style. I think it is its own sort of ghettoization.

3/13/10, 10:33 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

I can appreciate those of you who say you weren't bothered by the title, or chose not to be bothered by it, or didn't notice that the piece was in the Styles section...

But the fact is, the title was meant to be snarky. It was. And let's be clear: authors don't write titles. The editors do. So why is the Times doing that? Let's ask ourselves. Or better yet: let's ask them.

And whether or not it bugs you that it's in the Styles section, please just think about the fact that it *is.* Not in business, even though it's about a career choice. It's in Styles. As has been every single article ever written in the Times about mommyblogging.

There was some good information in the piece--and for that I credit the author--but it was buried deep, deep in the story--and for that I fault the editor. Someone chose to play up the snark and put it all up top.

The New York Times has some deep, specific animosity towards mothers, and mothers who choose to blog, and it's worth noting, and discussing. And railing against.

I think it's admirable that some of you can take the positive aspects of this piece and brush off the rest, but brushing it away doesn't make it not exist. I think it's a habit we've all gotten into, as women--to just be determined to ignore the constant misogynist crap we deal with at every turn. Let's not dismiss it. It's there. And we need to make some noise until it stops.

Thank you, Liz, as ever, for being clearheaded and inspiring in the midst of a lot of anger and strong feelings. You're the best.

3/13/10, 10:35 PM  
Blogger Kelly Whalen (CentsibleLife) said...

Great piece! I loved what you said. I didn't really think the article was awful, especially the second half of it, but the headline was completely sensational.

I thought your take on it was perfection. I wish that your response would run in the NYT in the editorial section, where that piece should have been run.

3/13/10, 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

None of us appreciates having something we care about marginalized - whether it's blogging, parenting, our religion, a cause we champion, or a hobby we adore.

Regardless of the journalist's intentions (or the Times'), this article came across as marginalizing something many of us care about. Jennifer (and the NYT) can focus their efforts on understanding our objections, or they can tell us we shouldn't be upset.

But in my experience, telling people who are upset that they shouldn't be upset doesn't work.

3/13/10, 10:39 PM  
Blogger ElisaC said...

Yes. Alice. Brilliant. That is all.

3/13/10, 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities said...

This right here is why I love blogging. The conversation it creates. The debate that ensues.

This is all very interesting to me because I read the article earlier tonight. I thought the title was a bit clichéd, but certainly grabbing. Was the author’s tone a bit breezy, borderline condescending in the first part of the article? Absolutely. Do I think this was intentional? Absolutely. In my humble opinion, this was a good old bait and switch. Jennifer, a blogger and writer like so many of us, paints a silly old portrait of silly mommies gathering and drinking from sippy cups. And then bam. She talks about how much of a force these women – we women – have become. She offers the stats to back this up. What I took away from this is that we moms who blog are now forces to be reckoned with. And we are. Because of conversations like this one. We have a say.

Is the latter half of the article more serious, more nuanced? Sure. Was this intentional? Sure. Maybe we are the only ones scrolling to that second page, nodding our head in agreement, or shaking it in vehement disagreement, when Jennifer communicates the sentiment that blogging has become very commercialized. Because it has.

Ultimately, I do not think there is anything truly offensive here. If anything, this article has us talking, exchanging ideas, getting revved up about issues that matter to us. If anything, this article is casting more attention on all of us who work so hard and write so hard and do good things with our blogs.

One more word about the title. I am usually pretty easy to ruffle and this title did strike something in me. It made me recoil. Not because I think it is conveying that we mothers who blog are neglecting our progeny. Rather because I have spoken those very words. So many of us write our blogs from home, from the very center of the compelling kiddie chaos we cherish. It is hard to do this. It is hard to commit to our blogs – and to ourselves – when our little ones are tugging at us. That’s what the title made me think of.

And so. I appear to be in the minority here. And that’s okay. Do I think the article could have been crafted more diplomatically? No doubt. Do I think it could have been titled more carefully? Certainly. But then maybe we wouldn’t all be talking like this – about our passionate ideas, our reactions – so late on a Saturday night. The conversation is what it’s all about in the first place, right?

Sorry for the novel. Thank you for your thoughtful response to the article and thank you for providing me – and all of us – with this space to offer our own.

(You have a new blog fan. Hope that works for you!)

3/13/10, 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended the "Bloggy Boot Camp" conference. However, after reading the NY Times article, I wondered if I didn't attend some other conference that I thought was "Bloggy Boot Camp," because I certainly did not see that which the author saw.

"Tara @ Feels like home" did stress quality of writing and quality of content in her presentation. I also found all of the other presentations to be relevant, fact-based, useful, and thorough.

I did not pay $89 "for some real-time girly bonding." I paid the conference fee plus travel expenses to attending a seminar on marketing and branding without sacrificing the integrity and quality of my blog. I also advise other small-businesses on their marketing strategies, and wanted to learn more about this emerging advertising medium. Yes, my time meeting with other bloggers was fun, and I met some wonderful women with whom I hope to continue friendships, but I would hardly consider our time meeting and networking "girly" or silly in any way.

I taught rhetoric and composition for years at a private college, and worked as a vice-president and marketing director for a dance company. I am also a mother, and I am a blogger. I did not check my brain at the door upon giving birth, nor do I consider any hobby or job I have to be silly or trivial because I am a mother. I did not meet one single woman at this conference who did not take their blog seriously. I also believe that the cost of a blog domain, an occasional conference, and perhaps a blog design is considerably less expensive than other hobbies such as scrapbooking, sewing, etc. Women are looking to use their education and business skills to enhance their career, earn money, and develop their writing skills. This is not a "fluff" venture by any means.

I appreciate reading what you, as a person who did not attend the conference, took away from the article. It's interesting that, instead of immediately thinking that these were a bunch of bored housewives going to the conference as a hobby, you questioned her views; her bias shows through even to those who were not there.

3/13/10, 10:42 PM  
Blogger prescott said...

So as a work at home dad building my brand while the wife is at the office, I'm good, right?

Although I am often sans shoes and say "You guys!" a lot.

3/13/10, 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mom-101. No, indeed, I'm not Jennifer. I hope my slightly impatient tone didn't overshadow the props I just gave to the effort and professionalism of this community -- which I learned about from reading Jennifer's very informative article. And, truth be told, while I've *heard* of Dooce, I've never read it. It's a great, big fragmented media culture out there -- too many things to read! -- but if you recommend it I'll check it out.

3/13/10, 10:45 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

Thank you.

From the mom who will never tuck her child into bed at night. And will never get to go on field trips and see prom dates, and college visits.

All those things that the writer thinks we take for granted.


Because my child is in a nursing facility, being cared for 24/7 to stay alive. That is his struggle and his mother's heartbreak.

But does the mainstream media or is the NYT even main stream care? Probably not.

That doesn't sell papers.

Controversy does.

3/13/10, 10:50 PM  
Blogger Sarah Auerswald said...

I think it's really all about the print medium not "getting" the online world. Juts have to make it sound a little "crazy" for the people still reading newsprint.

3/13/10, 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be a lone dissenter. The story was fun and informative and not particularly snarky, the headline did the job a headline should do (and if you think the writer wrote it, you've never been around a newspaper), and it gives a platform of NYT prominence to what many of us do for fun. (And yes, Kenmore washers, profit.)

This ain't brain surgery. If you can't stomach a story about mommy blogging that has a bit of a bite, well, then the terrorists have won.

3/13/10, 11:00 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Anon 11:00 You're not the lone dissenter at all if you'd read comments.

You're just the lone dissenter that did it in a kind of douchey way. That's okay. There's always one.

3/13/10, 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one would EVER imply that it's wrong for a father to attend conferences or pursue his own interests. The way that women, and especially mothers, are denigrated and everything we do is devalued makes me more than a little sad. If the title were about Daddy building HIS brand it would read very differently.

3/13/10, 11:07 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Q. said...

Ugh. I guess we should just quit mucking around with these widdle blogs and go back to chugging chardonnay at play dates.

3/13/10, 11:15 PM  
Blogger JustLinda said...

Horrible, awful title. And quite dismissive of the power of the platform for effecting social change, empowering small industry, educating, sharing, bringing people together, airing ideas, and more.

I suppose blogging is the new "eating bon-bons"?? Only if that's their position, then they have clearly missed the point - and the power - of it all.

3/13/10, 11:15 PM  
Blogger Mama Kat said...

Yes and Amen!

I felt like there were two articles in one here. Are we making fun of mommy bloggers and bashing them for the lack of care we assume they're giving their children?? (I mean REALLY how can one possibly comment on blogs AND teach children their ABC's??)

Or are we writing about PR and marketing strategies? The second half of the article did not match the second half. Thankfully.

I also didn't appreciate the slam about Tiffany walking barefoot and saying "you guys!" a lot.

SITS is about connecting women who are real and personable. Tiffany was amazing all weekend making every single person feel welcome and important...including the journalist.

What does walking barefoot have to do with anything?? OH! It shows that even when she puts on her "administrative" panties she's still just a mom. Ignoring her child. Probably missing a baseball game for a cute mommy blog conference.

Condescension is not my friend and the article was not appreciated.

3/13/10, 11:18 PM  
Anonymous dusty earth mother said...

I am brand-y new to the blogging world, but already have suffered some of the "oh, isn't that cute?" judgments of my blogging efforts. Thanks for your thoughtful, carefully-worded (might try that some time, NYT), and hilarious rebuttal. I will be thinking of you tonight when my youngun is suckling my teat.

Um... that didn't sound right at all.

3/13/10, 11:20 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

The title irritated me so much I put it aside to read until later, so THANK YOU for writing this as I am betting it is a better read. xo

3/13/10, 11:20 PM  
Blogger Family Sized Fun said...

i think this mommy blogosphere is the single-most amazing collection of support and generosity - the closest our generation can come to 'it takes a village' parenthood

it ISN'T just mommies out here and like amber, i wonder if it would be different if it were about the dads

and of course it would be different, dads are SUPPOSED to have jobs or they are "deadbeats" in our society

which is just another bad, because there are some amazing daddy bloggers out there too

no, we haven't come a long way, no matter how far we may have come.

3/13/10, 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

As a single parent, I started my blog because I didn't have a partner to bounce things off of. I am choosing the whole world to do that with. Also, it seemed (seems?) like there were very few people writing about raising teens. I found typical "mommyblogs" (barf) to be very baby/toddler/young child focused. Well, babies grow up and here's a glimpse of your future.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, my blog has also brought me a bit of extra income in the form of freelance writing so I think you could easily add to your list "help women pull themselves up by their bootstraps and nearly rise above poverty level" if you wanted to.

Thank you for a really thoughtful take on a sensitive subject. So glad I found you.

3/13/10, 11:40 PM  
Blogger Wink said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/13/10, 11:40 PM  
Blogger Wink said...

i must be a slacker! i don't worry about SEO, i don't have ads on my blog, nobody offers me freebies.....and i rarely get comments. i write my blog so that i can keep my head on straight - writing gives me clarity, peace, comfort.....i have a full-time job and i'm a mom, two jobs that keep me more busy than i can say. blogging helps me to stay sane, and keeps from stabbing people with chicken. anyone who would condescend and criticize? for shame. love you liz! you are wonderful and you have mad writing skillz.

3/13/10, 11:42 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Lately I've been thinking about how everyone blames their mom for something, whether warranted or not.

Whether or not the headline was offensive, it seems clear to me the only reason NYT covered the conference at all was because women/moms were involved, as you concluded.

Perhaps they should turn the magnifier on themselves - the media business.

I work at a small daily newspaper *owned by arguably the worst media corporation in the world* and is currently going over the top trying to get "community journalists" ... which as far as I can tell are bloggers they don't pay.

Now. ... They pay me, but in the last two years my job has included linking my personal blog to the main site and offering my "brand" to readers. I believe they are now calling it "Branding" and "Entrepreneurial Journalism" as they look for people who will do it for the "credibility" of being affiliated with a newspaper (that hasn't given raises to employees in three years and that doesn't plan to compensate them with any money).

This isn't new. My paper is playing "catch up."

They are all out for the cheap soundbite, hoping it will give them stats, hits, readers, circulation ... a miracle - revenue. I just got a memo detailing a video of a woman doing some inane thing that went viral and got a million hits as an example of "the power of social media."

They are not pure.

Mom is always an easy target. They know it.

3/13/10, 11:45 PM  
Blogger metalia said...

I read the article today, and was insulted by its tone, which smacks of soft sexism. The piece -- although it did contain some relevant info towards the end -- was pretty demeaning, and as others pointed out, its inclusion in the Style section further belittled any purported message about the force of mombloggers. Thanks for writing such a fantastic response.

3/13/10, 11:49 PM  
Blogger Mad Woman said...

Can I just tell you that this post was brilliant and leave it at that?


3/13/10, 11:56 PM  
Blogger Lee of MWOB said...

Okay. I'm like lonely commenter number three it seems or something like that. I have to say, I read it online, had no idea it was in the Style section and to me it didn't read like it did to you. And to most others it seems. But then again, I often feel like I'm coming from the perimeter of things in a lot of these hot-button mom-blog issues.

I really took it, as someone else commented, that this was a peek into a rapidly rising subculture within moms. And moms are doing it for all different kinds of reasons. For some it's to learn how to make a kick-ass tutu; to share some amazing recipes; to express a creative side; to connect; to feel validated; to get free stuff; to earn some cash; and of course, the examples you have listed are amazing and inspiring and do reflect a very important part of this blogging community.

But is it THE most important part? That's what I'm not sure of. Is a blogger interviewing the President more important than a blogger who knows how to make fluffy pancakes? I guess it depends on who you ask.

I guess after I read your post I thought yeah, the reporter should have included another dimension of the community. The one you have illuminated here. And that article would have been better received by more people I think. But for me, I simply read it as a glimpse into a world where tutu-making mamas can grow and expand their potential in this wild west of the online world. I really didn't see it as condescending.

And for me, your tone with that pancake, whites, menfolk line seems a little harsh to all of the women who work really hard at that kind of stuff. Or did I read that wrong?

3/13/10, 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Julia (the other) Roberts said...

Part of my "brand" is that I'm a happy mom, who works and blogs and mothers kids with extraordinary needs. And I attend functions WITHOUT them leaving them in the capable hands of my husband, who also supports my brand - the brand of me doing something positive for their disease and their life, and is also healthy and empowering. Yeah, what a horrible mom I am.

3/14/10, 12:01 AM  
Blogger Lotus (Sarcastic Mom) said...

Liz, you are such a class act. So glad you wrote about this. How on earth did you keep your feet on the heads of your little ones for long enough to get it all typed out and hit publish?

I saw the article this morning and the title really put me off. In fact, I shared the article with some friends in Skype right away, and my exact comment accompanying it was, "The title makes me want to punch them in the neck." (I've worked in an Editor's position enough to know that the author didn't likely write the title.)

Of course, she did write the content, and there is a clearly snarky tone that I really bristled at. Once I got deeper in, I actually enjoyed some of the content, and felt sad that the piece had been tainted in the way it had.

Don't even get me started on the fact that it's in Style. That made my freaking eyes cross.

My cute "hobby" that I've taken up these past 3 years (instead of learning how to hide vegetables in my child's food, for pete's sake) has saved this family's ass on *multiple* occasions this past year when my husband's job had holes poked in it. $ that I get paid because I blog and have blog related jobs kept our lights on, and food going into my kid's mouth. "Not now honey, Mommy's helping you stay sheltered and fed."

I queried in the Skype chat this morning whether women with "real jobs" (in the way that those who think women/mommy bloggers don't have real jobs) get degraded in this way for working? I know they have their own issues to deal with - hell, I've read many a working mom's post about the stigmas they have to put up with as well. Why is it that women/moms working, for whatever reason always have to take so much damn shit? So sick of it.

Sorry to go on so long. But thank you again for writing this post and giving all of us a place to discuss.

Clearly there is need for much discussion.

3/14/10, 12:01 AM  
Blogger CaraBee said...

I have to confess that I was not as troubled by this article as so many seem to be. I did feel there were snarky bits (Did mentioning that Tiffany said "you guys" a lot do anything to move the narrative along? Or that Scary Mommy got her Nickelodeon gig despite having "no resume", which just smacks of professional jealousy).

Could more of the positives have been accented? Of course! Could the title have been less sensationalistic? Absolutely! But I truly walked away from this article with a generally good perception. Maybe that's because I was at the event and I know that while everything she reported is true, there is much more to the story. That the event was handled professionally and extremely efficiently by Tiffany. That the seminars were informative. That the women who attended were engaged in a way that few conferences truly accomplish.

So maybe I saw what I wanted to see in this article. That a major newspaper was recognizing that mommybloggers have come such a long way from their origins so few years ago. That advertisers and pr firms are increasingly aware of our value. That the growth in this field is exponential and will likely continue in that fashion.

I guess what I'm wondering is, are we really so sensitive that we can't take a few pokes? Because if history is any teacher, the pokes only get harder and meaner the bigger we become. Let them marginilize use. Let them underestimate us. Let the NYT think we're nothing, while we quietly steal their readers and their advertisers by the droves.

3/14/10, 12:07 AM  
Blogger Justice Fergie said...

LOVE your post. I hope the NYT sees it. The article really rubbed me the wrong way.

oh, and she could have at least linked to my URL when referencing my FTC talk so I could get the hits. Sheesh :)

3/14/10, 12:20 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I'm really glad it was a great event and that the 90 women who were there know the truth. Because the 1,438,585 people who subscribe to the Sunday Times are currently rolling their eyes about silly mommies and their sorority conference and their tutu posts. I'm sure you'll start seeing evidence of it on the Motherlode blog as soon as they start publishing comments again.

The first NYT story on mom blogs that I recall was in 2005. It featured Dooce and was also in the style section. That's five whole years ago. We may have come far since then, but the Times really hasn't.

Why do I have to be satisfied with that?

Please. Please please please read Alice's comment above. She says everything better than I can. As always.

3/14/10, 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Cooper Munroe said...

The NYT must have the same boys making decisions as they always have. Have none of them strong, smart women in their lives?

In 2007 the New York Times ran a story about MomsRising in their Style Section called "Mom's Mad and She's Organized" (yes, so totally condesending -- again) about MomsRising, one of, if not the most, influential activist groups for moms in the country. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/22/fashion/22mothers.html That same week, ON THE FRONT PAGE stories ran about moms raising money for a local PTA through pizza sales and moms learning pole dancing. Emily and I were so sick about the obvious disparity at the time we wrote this Letter to the Editor, which of course never ran. Nothing has changed in 3 years and you have to wonder why this industry has so much trouble. Seeing what is happening this weekend proves that the same old, same old stands. Here's our 2007, unpublished LTE:

On Saturday (2/24/07), moms empowering themselves as "sexual kittens" through pole dancing made the front page. On Friday (2/23/07), moms "corporatizing" their PTAs grabbed page A1. But on Thursday (2/22/07), moms organizing for social change was relegated to Styles, despite the fact that the group profiled, MomsRising, was co-founded by a founder of MoveOn.org, and nine-month-old MomsRising has close to 90,000 members.

If the PTA committee and the moms learning to strip for "one-man" audiences are hard news, then why not put mothers working for children and families through political organizing in that category too?

Having our efforts to remove real life obstacles for families branded a “fashion” is patronizing and an insult.

It says 2007 on your masthead, but what year is it in your heads?


Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann

3/14/10, 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Wendy Wiseman said...

All I can say is Thank G-D for this new media outlet. I am newly out of a six figure job that I founded, created and lost (KIDZUP) and am starting over. This is a NEW way for me to reach out to my target audience, and I am learning the ropes, albeit very slowly. Whenever I realize that the hours and time I am spending honing my skills, trying to re-shape my blogs, reach back into my passion (through KIDZUP Foundation, which owned 40% of KIDZUP, we fed and vaccinated millions of kids around the world! Every album we sold helped a child somewhere. And yes, I sold MILLIONS of albums!). So, I am honored to meet all you useless mommy bloggers!!(oh, did I tell you my 15 year old daughter is now at Universal Studios with her BFF and I am too busy twittering to pick her up???LOL!! Let her wait...mommy taxi is tired for a bit!!)

Thank you for your amazing blog, and for following me on twitter. I feel honored every time someone new follows me!

And thank you, all you twitter moms, for showing me how to virtually hold hands. That is very much needed and appreciated.


3/14/10, 12:33 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

I agree completely. When I first read the article, it struck me as mostly positive, and the mean-spirited headline didn't seem to fit. But then I read it again and just seethe from all the disdain. I don't get why the media loves to mock and criticize mom bloggers, but this latest article got me thinking about why I really blog and what it means...and I've determined I really don't give a damn what the NYT or anyone else thinks about something they've likely never read. Great post, and glad to have found you.

3/14/10, 12:35 AM  
Blogger Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Not only did the ridiculous title chap my ass, but the snarky tone throughout. Good information or no, I'm so sick and tired of people calling us money-grubbing mothers out for a quick buck or freebie. Sweet girl/writer/blogger/asshat or not, I absolutely hated how demeaning and snarky she was. And in the style section? I'll go take my cute, stylish little blog, make it match my purse and belt, tuck it away like an accessory and go whack NYT over the head with it, repeatedly. Assholes!

3/14/10, 12:49 AM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

It all stems from sour grapes. The disdain. The snark. Always has. The mom blogs have become the unlikely cool kids in terms of monetization and entrepreneurship. And that? Is driving old media bonkers.

Great response, Liz.

3/14/10, 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Glennia/The Silent I said...

As always, spot on with the commentary, Liz. I would not have read the article without hearing about it from you, so the NYT should pay you some kind of royalty for the extra traffic.

Frankly, I think I've read this same article about about ten times over the years (in different venues), and it's gotten a bit tiresome. I think the first BlogHer Conference I attended in 2006 was also covered in the Style Section, so that must mean we're just wonderfully trendy and fashion-forward, right? Which we are, but that has nothing to do with our blogs.

3/14/10, 3:14 AM  
Anonymous Bettina said...

Great post, and great comments. I read "mommy blogs" because while the media is galloping after breast milk cheese, I've found amazing bloggers like yourself and phdinparenting who fill in a very different vacuum than the one mentioned above: you know, raise awareness, tell the truth, educate & generate meaningful, productive dialogue about important issues like women's rights and unethical corporate marketing practices by Nestle et. al.

3/14/10, 6:29 AM  
Blogger Musings of a Housewife said...

Thank. You.

3/14/10, 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Hollee Temple said...

I can't add much more here, but I'll offer a few thoughts:
1) I think Tara's numbers on the tutu video were impressive, the kind of graphic detail that a reporter grabs on to, and it's too bad that the flip side (e.g., people obviously are getting useful information from these sites) wasn't mention.
2) You can add to your list of things we're doing: Writing books about work/life balance and how this generation of moms is unwilling to settle for the all-or-nothing choices of the past. Amy Bair, one of the mentioned bloggers, is featured in our book for making her own success!

3/14/10, 8:18 AM  
Blogger Randi Skaggs said...

Wow, my dander is WAY up now. Thank you for bringing this into the light for me.

As for Dee's deliciously insightful comment...

As a teacher, I love when I get the offspring of intelligent, caring moms who value their children and themselves.

And I'd rather read the blogs of my fellow moms any day than the snarky, self-absorbed rants of trolls who obviously have too much time on their hands without children to take care of. ;-)

3/14/10, 8:41 AM  
Blogger Susan Getgood said...

Great post Liz. I've been completely avoiding this because I have to work on the book this weekend. You know, the Professional Blogging book.

That said, it seems like nasty mom blog article is on a 6 month schedule with the major media. I have this image of a bunch of cigar smoking editors sitting around a table (think Tammany Hall) deciding who gets to publish the article this time.

3/14/10, 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Oh so well said Liz. Especially when you call out the partial list of what women are really are doing (with purpose and for good) on line. But I am burying the lead here -- while Nicole is right and tension, drama and the idea of a comment cat fight of Battle of the Networks Stars proportion (damn, dated myself again) is the cure for all that ails the newspaper industry. And the world Mommy (or an alternative) front in center in the headline is a near guarantee of it…there is still epidemic level condescension among oh – how do you say, “journalists” – one of whom said to me last week “I don’t do mommy bloggers”. Leaving me only to ponder what exactly he did not want to do: did he not want to cover the powerful rise of women’s voices, new media and the career alternatives it has afforded women, social campaigns and the profound effect women are having as a collective community (OK, I was pitching R Baby) addressing issues in real time, women in their own words, etc? Which one of these stories is beneath you oh Times-journoman exactly? Things that make you go hmmmm…..

3/14/10, 9:25 AM  
Blogger Connie Schultz said...

I'm a 52-year-old newspaper columnist who used to be a stay-at-home mom and freelancer when my kids were little. It was the big secret of our generation that staying home full-time to raise young children often made for lonely, isolated lives. We loved our children, but many of us wanted more -- and felt so guilty about that.

I read Jennifer Mendelsohn's piece in the Times and thought, "Wish we'd had that bright, engaged blog community when I was younger." In the 1980s, I was so full of questions, and more than a few opinions, but it was not easy to find a writer's forum that cared to read what I had to say.

There's a tone among many here that I find so disheartening. I didn't see Mendelsohn's essay as snarky or condescending, but rather as celebratory of a whole new generation of young mothers. You are figuring out better than we ever did how to connect, share and stay sane.

I have spent most of my career urging women not to wait for the invitation to make their voices heard. That is still a hard thing for so many women over 40. As I often mention in speeches, my in-box continues to fill with voice-mail messages from middle-aged women who are so nervous about offering their opinions that they write out their thoughts and then read them over the phone.

Ultimately, the young mothers who blog will grow into older women used to sharing their voices in a world that is in desperate need of their wisdom. And while some question how Mendelsohn's piece is noteworthy, consider the age (and gender) of the average newspaper reader. Until her piece ran, there was a whole chunk of the country who knew nothing about you. That just changed, and that is a wonderful thing.

Connie Schultz
The Plain Dealer/Creators Syndicate

3/14/10, 10:49 AM  
Blogger Cloud said...

I don't blog for any financial gain at all, so I always feel left out of pieces in the media about mommyblogs. I don't bother reading them anymore, so my comment is not on the article you reference, but on the media coverage of mommyblogs in general.

It strikes me as very similar to the really annoying stories that have been written about how us WOHMs are exploiting our child care workers and housecleaners.

And those articles struck me as similar to the women on the religious right who run foundations promoting "family first" and stay at home momhood (and I want to be clear, I have nothing against stay at home momming- it is a noble profession, but it is just not for me).

My reaction to all of these things is "how hypocritical".

I am so tired of women making a living by telling other women how they shouldn't be doing what they are doing to make a living.

3/14/10, 10:56 AM  
Anonymous MU said...

Ah yes, a perfect example of how misogyny is alive and kicking in 2010, made worse when it's a woman writer, perhaps fallen victim of the allure of adding NYT article to her resume.

And at what price? Go ahead and insult mom bloggers. Like that's really anything new. But perpetuate negative stereotypes that our own mothers have been railing against and we continue to rail against for our own daughters, is really quite sucky.

But really, the whole thing screams "desperation." By the author, and by the NYT, that would think something like this, as opposed to the amazing stuff that moms ARE really doing, is newsworthy.

3/14/10, 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Moody Mommy said...

Thank you for setting the record straight on what we do as bloggers!

3/14/10, 11:07 AM  
Blogger Mayhem and Moxie said...

Oh, hell.

“My husband calls it my expensive hobby,” she said with a laugh.

This statement could have been improved if someone had just added, "she said with a laugh, while flipping her hair and giving a knowing wink."

I can say this because I am the girl being quoted.

To put my conversation into context, I was responding to Jennifer's question re why I would fly from California to Baltimore for a one day conference. I do not have an "A-list blog" nor am I making enough money to support my family through blogging. My response included several points:

1) While I have a background in marketing and have been involved in marketing efforts that have been profitable within social media, what keeps me coming back to my computer are the personal connections that I have formed with members of the community. I am tied to the bloggers that I flew across the US to meet because of our shared experiences and similar personalities. These are the women that make me laugh, cry, and keep me sane.

2) Those involved in social media are doing much more than simply posting pictures of their kids and their pets. The women who are on-line are educated, motivated, and getting attention from corporate America because of it.

3) Why would my husband be supportive of my spending money on something that I earn essentially nothing from? Because it makes me happy. Because I find it personally fulfilling. Because it gives me an outlet to think creatively and participate in something greater than simply being a stay-at-home mom.

My goal is not to try to change your opinion of what I said. Instead, I hope to illustrate that there were other things that came out of my brain that align with what you said here.

3/14/10, 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Andrea of HipMomsWhoWork said...

I am so sick of women having to defend their choices all of the time. Would an article like this ever be written about men? And would an article about men attending a conference to increase their digital marketing acumen ever be placed in the STYLE section of the NYT? It's no wonder women have built a parallel universe via blogging, when the current universe (that in which editors of the NYT operate, among others) marginalize and belittle us.

3/14/10, 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Not being a regular reader of the Times, I received an email with a link to this article this morning. I clicked the window closed before getting to the end (behold, a mommy-blogger pausing to tend to the kids- note sarcastic inflection). I find the overwhelming animosity toward mommy-bloggers to be so fascinating. Why such vehemence? Such devotion to attack and mockery?
I think like in any arena, there is good, not-so-good and things that live on either end. Whether it's a sport, volunteerism, or hobby, demonstrating to our kids that their is a self to mom, a place where dreams live and challenges are tackled, we are teaching. I want my children to know love, both my love for them and my love for life, the pursuit of things that bring me joy and triumph and in turn make me a better mom, wife and contributor to the community.
For every comment I read that implies a writer's time might be better spent with their children, I witness a demonstration of complete abdication of responsibility— distracted parents at the playground, delinquent homeowners the list goes on.
I think this particular attack, because that's what the article is, an attack, brings to light the reality that some people and organizations still exist at the pleasure of destruction. Tearing down is king, whereas I believe that for the most part the blogging community is about building up.
Jess from Oh, The Joys taking my hand at BlogHer 08 to introduce me to people and get to know me in person, Leslie from Mrs. Flinger enveloping me in her world at BlogHer 09 and every day that followed online, Kristen from Motherhood Uncensored sending me a letter to let me know how much a post about the struggles and beauty of 3 kids touched her, and my own experience in members of my modest "comment tribe" writing and beginning lengthy back-and-forths plumbing the depths of issues ranging from friendship to fear.
I see blogging as an extension of living, not an indication that I am hiding from life. Which leads me to my point, certain folks should try getting a life, letting up on how we live ours might be the first step.

3/14/10, 11:24 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I appreciate your input Connie, and I'm so glad that you find what we're doing inspirational. I find it interesting though that you're the second professional journalist here claiming you know nothing about moms who blog and that this is somehow an "introduction" to it for the world.

New York Times, 2005: "Mommy and Me"

NY Times, 2006: Blogging the Hand that Feeds You

Wall Street Journal, 2007 (front page): To Create Buzz, TV Networks Try a Little Blogola (this one was rich)

NY Times, 2008: Woman to Woman, Online

Wall Street Journal, 2008: The Blogger Mom, In Your Face

LA Times, 2009: Blogging Moms Wooed by Food Firms

NY Times, 2009: Approval by a blogger may please a sponsor

Those are just a few of many many many over the years. You can also search CNN, NPR, Forbes, Fortune, ABC, NBC, CBS and so on.

So forgive me for not just being flattered by the attention; I'd prefer that attention to be more positive than not.

3/14/10, 11:25 AM  
Blogger Mommy Niri said...

I could not have said it better, even if I wanted to. I have to admire a woman to write eloquently to get the point across. Me, I just froth at the mouth tongue-tied when these ignorant statements pop up. Sad thing is they pop up at EVERY attend I attend. The last one was "Is that ALL you do?" when I mentioned I blog.

3/14/10, 11:29 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Articulate, searching and provocative as usual, Liz. I'm glad you've created a space where the level of discourse and civility runs high.

I'm conflicted about the article. I confess that I pick up the Style section first (I've already gotten the hard news online by the time the paper is printed), and I think it (or the Family or the Arts section of any newspaper) is an appropriate place to bring up blogs that deal with those themes. I don't think discussions of the professional aspects of blogging belong there, however, and certainly, it seems like the NYT in particular has got women bloggers in quarantine there.

At the same time, I cringe when I see the word "bloggy" as a conference title, or read about cocktails served in sippy cups. I have as much fun at blog conferences as anyone--it's SOCIAL media, after all--and would hate to see them become dour and dry affairs with nary a paper bag hat in sight, but I can see where someone looking in from the outside might be confused by cutesy language and conference activities that resemble baby shower games.

My initial reaction to the twitter indignation was, well, put the sippy cup down before you rail against not being taken seriously. But maybe I'm missing something. If so, I'm sure I'll find it here. :-) Great discussion!

3/14/10, 11:32 AM  
Blogger matt mendelsohn said...

I'm Jennifer's brother, so I won't pretend to be impartial here. But as someone who has been in journalism for 25 years, including ten at USA Today, I will echo the comments of 10:49. (Though unlike Connie Schultz, whom I adore and who a Pulitzer Prize attached to her name, not to mention frequent guest spots on Bill Maher, I never won much of anything.)

I see a lot of comments here that fault the reporter--my sister--for having been so nice at the blogging conference only to have essentially let down the side in her piece. But a good reporter can't have a side to let down. She must write the story as she sees it, not as she knows her subjects would like it presented. This isn't John Travolta in "Perfect." (Wow, talk about dated references.)

Jennifer wrote an informative and smartly written piece, one that brings an entire subculture that most people don't know a lot about to the pages of the New York Times. I'll bet that a certain multi-city seminar series on blogging just added a whole bunch of stops as of this morning.

It's hard to look at things objectively when one is part of a group that feels maligned, and I'm sure some of you will just chalk this up to the Dep't. of Nepotism, but as a longtime newspaper guy, I'd say that millions of people are reading a fun story on blogging today and that's not a bad thing.

3/14/10, 11:34 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks for weighing in Matt.

Personally, I take no issue with Jennifer or her methods. As I said, I think she's super talented and I congratulated her on getting such a prominent byline in the Times. I just wish the article hadn't been so snarky.

3/14/10, 11:44 AM  
Blogger Kelby said...

To Matt: You forget that some of us who choose to blog know how it works in newspapers. In fact, you guys in newspapers often forget this. We aren't all idiots who happened into a blogger account. In fact, most of us were career women who are far smarter than the reporters in many newsrooms.

I was a newspaper reporter for 15 years, and I was raised by two journalists. I think I can fairly present both sides of this.

You say this:

"But a good reporter can't have a side to let down. She must write the story as she sees it, not as she knows her subjects would like it presented."

Here is the problem. Yes, she can't side with someone. But she did! She declared a side by being insulting and condescending to the very people she covered. She did NOT present the subject as she saw it. She presented the subject as it pleased her: snarky. That is the epitome of bias.

A fair and balanced article would have not treated moms like silly little women. Like women who should be learning about slipping vegetables into food for their kids, and how shocking it is they are actually (gasp) talking business.

Don't try to tell me what journalism is. This is not a piece of journalism. This is an editorial. If you can say with a straight face that coverage of a men's blogging conference would have been handled this way, or even placed in the Style section, go for it. The fact is, it wouldn't have. No one would have written how shocking it is that dads were not talking about parenting at an industry tech conference. Ever.

Either she told it like she chose to, with bias, or worse yet, she told it as she saw it and THIS was what she saw. That is even worse.

3/14/10, 11:50 AM  
Blogger fer said...

See, I just don't think there needs to be any justification/rationalization of women, writing. On blogs or elsewhere. Period. Type, scribble, jot, ON.

3/14/10, 11:52 AM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Who does Bossy sue for the dislocation of her jaw when it thumped to the floor? This post and all the smartness was like a kiss to the boo-boo, though. Or is that a Mommy blogger thing to say?

3/14/10, 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Well said.

Really. I'd love to add something clever, but you nailed it.

3/14/10, 12:00 PM  
Anonymous ABDPBT said...

The only thing objectionable about the article, in my mind, is the fact that it appears in the Fashion and Style section, which is what the NYT always does with articles on female bloggers. The rest of these complaints are the standard issue 70s feminism whining points. Bottom line: get out of Fashion & Style and then you've accomplished something.

But since I was contacted for this article regarding page view calculation, and asked if you could just "double the Ree Drummond's income" based on her increase in traffic since I last wrote on it, I don't think they're tracking down the best business minds out there for these fluff pieces. And since I was waived away when I said the issue is far more complicated than that, I'm guessing they're not tracking down the most precise fact-checkers, either.

Who cares what they say in Fashion & Style?

3/14/10, 12:12 PM  
Blogger Connie Schultz said...

For some reason, my response to Mom101's comment didn't appear. I'll try again. Please forgive me if I end up saying the same thing twice, but I will be away from technology for several hours and want to be sure my comments are characterized correctly.

Please re-read my original comment. I never said I wasn't familiar with blogs by mothers. I am a regular reader of several such blogs, and often post links to them on my Facebook wall. I contributed an essay for one blogger's book, and have agreed to write the preface for the book by another mom who blogs.

My point was that this blog community of bright young mothers is something I wish we'd had when I was a young mother in the 1980s. You're lucky to have it, and I'm glad Jennifer Mendelsohn wrote about it for the New York Times.

Connie Schultz

3/14/10, 12:16 PM  
Blogger Devra said...

I stopped reading the WaPo a few years ago for the reasons Isabel cited. My paper of choice has always been the NYT given I'm a native girl. However, recently I noticed the NYT changing article headlines for their pieces in print and those online. Yup, same article, different headline. I do believe the NYT has an agenda to rile up parents, particularly moms, online. They know it will garner them more readers and a fluff piece will get far more mileage that way.

For example, this was the headline that ran in print:
"Shout if you are against Spanking"

online version:
"For Some Parents Shouting Is The New Spanking"

It's pretty clear there is an agenda and it's about the bottom line, which is the Times needs readers. This fluff piece will now spur blog post after blog post, probably a morning show or two, maybe even a CNN or MSNBC segment and so it goes.
It used to be "Sex Sells" now we can say "Drek Sells."

Perfect time to watch this piece from The Onion News Network that LaurieWrites posted on her FB Page.

Keep in mind if you are in a cornfield with small ears, it is "R" rated for language.

3/14/10, 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Elaina said...

Amen, sister.

3/14/10, 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Isabel @AlphaMom said...

I love all the smart commentary here.

Let's go down memory lane to October 2003 when the "Opt-Out Revolution" article was published in the NYT and written Lisa Belkin. Boy-o-boy did that article about motherhood and working cause a unprecedented ruckus. At the time it was the most emailed article in NYT history (still could be) and led to thousands of comments online. It also started a domino effect of articles and media focusing on motherhood. It was seminal.

It also taught the NYT and other mainstream media that just like religion and politics that discussing motherhood was "controversial". oooh.

So, just like Danielle mentioned that this article IS linkbait. And like Susan Getgood mentioned, I believe there is a group of editor guys who sit at a table and say, "yep it's time to dust off that article again" bring out the eyeballs.

Matt, I hold no disdain for your sister. I actually feel sorry for her. I'm sure she wasn't even privy to the fact that she was merely a cog in a wheel that has been spinning for several years now. It's hard to turn down the NYT as a writer or a subject, no less. I get that.

The issue, like Alice wrote above, is much bigger. Not sure if the NYT has a fundamental problem with mothers as much as they just *know* it'll incite the reader response they so desperately want (or need).

3/14/10, 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps i approached this ass backwards but given my entry into this world, how else would i? i read your take on the article before the article. i did that so i could get my righteous indignation into check as i read how the NYT sees us moms who just so happen to also be bloggers. i hate being lumped into a box or a brand just as much as the next person, the next mom, the next blogger. i do know the people who put on the Bloggy Boot Camp and while their approach to blogging is not for me, i like that they recognize that it is wild frontier out there in blogging where we can all choose our own individual path and approach to it in order to make what we do all our own. in a time when it is all about the rights of the individual and our freedoms of expression why would our blogging be any different. had the author got to know the people putting on Bloggy Boot Camp or the people attending just a little better she might have discovered intelligent, articulate, passionate people who not only pour all that drive, intelligence and passion into their writings but also into what they do outside the blog INCLUDING their families. But i doubt that would make good copy for the masses to read and to take as gospel because, after all, it is in the New York Times.
very excellent response. thank you!
laura scarborough

3/14/10, 12:57 PM  
Blogger Kiki said...

fantastic post. great responses to matt and connie, too. i think you need to send this post, as well as all the comments, to the NYT and any other publication that has slammed moms who blog. for all those critics of us i give them a big middle finger. i think people fear the power of women, especially moms, and this booming social media. they either need to hop on board or get out of the damn way. thanks for sharing and take care.

3/14/10, 12:58 PM  
Blogger kristy said...

You want snark? I'll give you snark.

Megan above asked, "When is the Times in particular going to stop perpetuating the stereotypes of the women in the blogosphere?"

Answer: When the NYT can figure out how to do anything relevant in the online space. (Good luck with that pay wall, btw!)

The mere fact that print is covering women bloggers isn't inherently flattering. Especially when the article (after article after article) is condescending.

Sure, it's wonderful when traditional media covers "women in social media" and gets it right. Great! Maybe someday the old and new will merge. But right now? I'm sorry. We're not all sitting around hoping to be validated by print reporters. (Frankly, we weren't even doing that five years ago.)

We aren't the ones becoming increasingly marginalized.

3/14/10, 1:02 PM  
Blogger Sarah Burns said...

Wonderful response - exactly how I was feeling and you said it so well.

3/14/10, 1:15 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks for the clarification Connie and apologies if i misconstrued your comment. I appreciate your perspective and support of the community and i'm flattered by your presence here and your participation in the discussion.

3/14/10, 1:18 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Should be working. Oh well. There were bright spots in the article. It was well written. And I don't think it would rub so many so wrong if it weren't, as Liz and others in comments have pointed out, the latest in a long line of "mom as marginal" articles in the major media.

That said, I get the print version of the NYT, and was even more insulted by the art than I was by the article. Art is an editorial decision that the writer --especially a freelancer -- has nothing to do with.

The image is 3 columns wide (out of 4) and covers the entire space above the fold and a little below. The theme? Online moms ignore their kids. Kids are unhappy. Implication: Bad moms.

As Alice said, blame for this lays squarely with NYT editorial.

3/14/10, 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Tiffany {SITSGirls} said...

So I am finally going to pipe in here.

I am Tiffany, the barefoot sorority leader who runs Bloggy Boot Camp.

First of all, I did not serve any cocktails in sippy cups. If they were there, it wasn't part of the conference.

Matt, we will not be adding a bunch of stops to Bloggy Boot Camp for 2010- since my site {SITS} nor the boot camp was linked in the article, its not very easy to find. And, honestly, I'm not sure how many out there are interested in hearing about how many hits you can get on a tutu tutorial.

If this is all Jennifer got out of a day that produced comments like:

"Thank you for reminding me I should be authentic in my blogging."

"I was nervous to come, but felt so welcomed and everyone was so kind."

"The information was so valuable, thank you!"

Then she was alone her feeling that the conference and the women who attended were nothing more than silly ladies, driving minivans and having girl time.

I could go on and on.

But I won't.

I am a huge fan of women. Period.

I run a site dedicated exclusively to featuring them.

I run a conference whose entire goal- from assigning seats so women feel included, to personally trying to meet each attendee, to offering speaking opportunities to women who have never done it before- is to make women feel included, empowered and connected.

When Jennifer, who was on the waiting list for a ticket, proposed the idea of writing for the NYT, I agreed BECAUSE SHE HAS A BLOG-with pictures and stories of her beautiful family all over it.

I also understand that an article for NYT is not going to be all rainbows and unicorns. But I thought she would be more balanced, and less trite.

I was wrong.

I am not in this for publicity or money. I am in this because I love connecting with women. I love the camaraderie this community we have carved out offers each of us.

As for having "the enthusiasm of camp director"- I am grateful for that everyday. It allows me a wonderful lifestyle in which my husband and I both stay home with our son and spend the summers with fantastic children.

Now, excuse me while I go find my shoes.....

3/14/10, 1:24 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Well said! I've written posts lately that dealt with disability rights, health insurance reform, and students raising money for Water for Africa even as they got harrassed for not raising money for Haiti's earthquake victims. I guess I should just go get a container of bonbons and turn on the soaps instead.

3/14/10, 1:55 PM  
Blogger Bree said...

So glad this was brought up. I read the article and the more I thought about that 'hidden' person's comment the more bugged I became- and then couldn't find the article again. Who doesn't enjoy positive feedback and I can speak for me, my children's good behavior speaks volumes to be but some adult interaction is just natural- if I can't get it in the office (because I choose to be a SAHM) then online will have to do! We all make decisions that we believe are the best for our lives and for that person to judge the mindset behind so many bloggers must not really get it- - - some may be out of balance with it- but that's not my call or my business and I don't have to ready anyone i don't want to- - - I am so thankful to blogger land :)

3/14/10, 2:10 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I'm glad you chimed in Tiffany.

3/14/10, 2:13 PM  
Anonymous The Well-Versed Mom said...

Thanks for pointing out that the article could have been written differently. Ditto the headline, which I suspect was created not by the author but by the writer whose job it is to grab attention with often disingenuous heads.

You hit the nail on the head, I believe, by writing that the mom blog world isn't taken seriously because of that word: mom (or mommy, which has unfortunately developed an even more negative connotation).

In any case, thanks for presenting a balanced case in your post. The article did have some positive stuff in it, as you noted. I hope a majority of readers find it.

3/14/10, 2:21 PM  
Blogger deb said...

I found this via Alice Bradley's twitter feed. I follow her because I think she's really funny and smart. I'm not a mom, I blog because I own a gallery and it helps get the word out. But I'm most troubled by the "this is pretty good, why complain" mentality that seems to pervade these types of conversations. Yes, it's nice that the NY Times wrote about this, but does that have to be good enough? I so respect all of you bloggers who are working hard and making a living so why, WHY not push for this to be featured in the business section? Why isn't this treated with more parity to other business trends? Writing and blogging for many of you is a BUSINESS. Is it because of the somewhat condescending (in my view) term "mommyblogger" (which I obviously take issue with, but I won't get into that here).

I am inspired by you and Finslippy and Dooce and other writers and bloggers who are making your mark, putting great work out there, achieving success, and daring to speak your mind.

3/14/10, 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Kami said...

The title of this article was offensive and totally condescending. The article in my opinion was just kinda silly.

Tiffany, great great comment. I found the article more absurd than offensive, but it definitely made me interested in finding out more about SITS. I see your tweets fly around all the time and only now have figured out who you are. I commend you for bringing women together. What amazing work!

3/14/10, 2:27 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Tiffany, I appreciate the clarification on the sippy cup cocktails. It does occur to me that we don't normally read about icebreakers and social activities in coverage of other industry conferences and seminars.

3/14/10, 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Meagan Francis said...

I was amazed at the story's headline. Simply amazed. Even though the story overall wasn't bad, why run it under such a condescending title? Yes, the implication very much is that moms shouldn't be working, or maybe it's that stay-at-home moms shouldn't dare to divert their attention from their children and housework in the pursuit of professional advancement and maybe some cash? I don't get it.

3/14/10, 2:47 PM  
Blogger Christine Kraft said...

Excellent piece @Mom101. Nice comment rush too.

3/14/10, 2:51 PM  
Blogger Sarah Burns said...

One more thing, have they not noticed that many households have gone through lay offs? In turn many women who were stay at home moms or professionals outside the home who were laid off themselves, are using their education and experience to work from home while taking care of their children AND putting bread on the table...all via blogging. Many MEN are doing this too...why are women/moms being ridiculed?

3/14/10, 2:56 PM  
Anonymous jerseygirl89 said...

Bravo! I forwarded it to all the people who felt the need to email me that article. Thank you.

3/14/10, 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Brené said...

As long as people are claiming their voices, there will always be pushback. There will be criticism and efforts to diminish and belittle. Luckily, mothers are experienced fighters. We've been doing it for years.

Wonderful post! Thank you.

3/14/10, 3:21 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

I preface this by saying I'm not a mommy blogger; I'm a daddy blogger. But the NY Times article was pretty unfair, and I love that you took them to task for it. You're absolutely right that similar relationships exist across all blogs and the industries upon which they comment, but it's unjust to paint the few bloggers who abuse their positions as the majority. Love your work!

3/14/10, 3:32 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

Gotta say that the best part of that article was that it led me to some great new blogs like yours!

3/14/10, 3:39 PM  
Blogger Santa Monica Insider said...

This is the best! Absolutely the best response.

Moms can and will help each other, it's what we do

3/14/10, 3:50 PM  
Blogger Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

I'll just be here in my corner of the internet working for my family, waiting for the rest of the media world to get their collective heads out of their collective arseholes only to realize that little ole me has made more of an impact in my kids' lives than they only wish to accomplish in their negative-attention-seeking, highly-biased "reporting."

And that was a long-ass sentence.

3/14/10, 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am quoted in the article and I too, like Jennifer. A lot. Would like to be her friend, like her. I wil readily admit that as a performer et. all I was thrilled to be in the article.
But as I thought about it more and more and rea the article over and over I started feeling sort of embarrassed at myself.
Was it mentioned how blogging is my creative outlet now and how that had helped me crawl from depression over moving? Or how media is moving forward and companies are having to find new was to market their products? Or how women are controlling more where the money is spent these days? What about how I go to blogs for advice on say, potty training or behavioural problems? How I received offers to write at other places due to my blog? Or any of the other things we talked about?
What made it in there is my former carreer, my kid, and -oh yes- General Hospital.
I remember chatting about that with her, and how even networks and shows were recognizing the power of women and blogging and thus recruiting women to review and write about not only products, but what is on tv. I'm not sure that's what came across.
So come to my house, because I've got the bon bons!
All in all I liked the article, but admitedly I tend to see to see things like this through rose
colored glasses. But that stuck in my craw a bit. The conference itself was so empowering.
I've been around and interviewed enough to know that sometimes what you say isn't fully quoted or is taken out of context, it's always dissapointing though.
I'm certain Jennifer herself felt no condescension towards the atendees, I'm thinking the editors saw a classic hook and edited it to fit more into that vein.

I am grateful for the community and support an friends I've found through bloging, and if that's 1950's so be it.

I'm posting anonymously only because I'm on vacation and my iPhone is having some sort of nervous breakdown and won't let me sign on right now. I've no time to fix it since I'm taking my kid to the beach!

Anyway, I'm Stephanie Stearns Dulli a.k.a. Minky

3/14/10, 3:57 PM  
Anonymous coffeewithjulie said...

This was a great read and made excellent points. I especially appreciated your long list of very valuable things that "mommybloggers" have accomplished with their craft. The article itself didn't offend me per se, but I did immediately think that the title may have been developed by the editor and not the author.

3/14/10, 4:05 PM  
Blogger LittleTechGirl said...

Such an awesome fantastic post!!!! You are write on. As I said on Kelby's blog, I so hope that all those media folks with the negative mouths read all these.

I wrote about it myself a bit ago at http://littletechgirl.com/2010/03/14/why-did-you-start-blogging-my-views-on-the-new-york-times-article/

Love your title btw. :)

3/14/10, 4:07 PM  
Blogger Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Great post, Liz. Per usual.

For all the mamas who are busy building brands and bringing in loads of bacon to stuff into their precious progeny's gaping maws, there are even more of us blogging simply because we enjoy it. Shocking, yet true! Oh sure, I have ads, but I use the revenue to do fancy things such as purchasing sparkly new litter boxes for my kitties. Yeah. Glamorous.

On second thought, maybe I should be working harder to build my brand! ;-)

3/14/10, 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I just wanted to add that not all readers of mommy blogs are bloggers themselves. I like mommyblogs - the well-written, the funny, the polished- but even the boring and tedious at times. I'm a mom, so I can relate. It's like reality TV in many, many ways - people inviting you into your their homes to see private pictures and share private moments. I guess when I recognize that a blog is becoming commercialized, it is kind of depressing. It really feels like the mom is selling out. Sometimes I still read, but other times I feel like someone I thought I knew is someone else.

I DO see your point about how sexist it is to assume that moms couldn't/shouldn't engage in marketing to readers. But I guess I also saw moms as doing it (the blogging) for a reason other than $$$. Typing that just made me sad -- it's the same justification we use to keep women at home!

I offer this opinion because it looks like most of the other commenters are other bloggers.

3/14/10, 5:45 PM  
Anonymous MDTaz said...

A-woman. That's all I can add. Thanks for everything you've written.

3/14/10, 5:52 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

This is an expansion of a comment I posted on Kelby Carr's blog before I read your post:

Even the word "mommy" is used with such sarcasm in the media that it has become a loaded word--a not-so-subtle term of derision.
Even if a woman DOES blog about diapers and cute things the kids say--why is that something to be mocked? Why is raising and teaching other human beings, and writing about it, somehow more ridiculous than writing about any other occupation?

Whether a mom is blogging about a business she runs or her day-to-day life with her children (or both), it's a fascinating new form of self-expression that is changing the world as well as the lives of those who write.

Watch your tone, New York Times! And don't make that face at me. I have eyes in the back of my head.

3/14/10, 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Marianne @ Polkadot Patch said...

Thank you for being the voice for so many women, mothers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs who feel as you have described.

I own a small business and I appreciate the introduction and exposure that my fellow Moms receive from the gifted blogging women who we have worked with!

Women and bloggers will unite over this topic and then the Times will see where the snarkiness has gotten them. Probably less readership!

P.S. I'm writing in my slippers! Does that count?

3/14/10, 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anne-Marie Nichols said...

Back on Mother’s Day 2006, I worked with M.O.T.H.E.R.S. (MothersOughtToHaveEqualRights.org) to call for a end to the so-called Mommy Wars. Pitting SAH vs WAH vs WOH moms against each other was a way for the morning shows to gain viewers, magazines and newspapers to increase readership, and publishers to sell books. We couldn’t figure out a way to stop it then, and I continue to be frustrated by it when cherished and respected newspapers like the New York Times still place stories about women in tech (mom or not) in their lifestyle section.

Liz, how do we stop this type of reporting by the New York Times and other media outlets? Do we cancel our subscriptions, refuse to talk to their writers, or try our best to ignore them somehow? I’m stumped.

3/14/10, 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Snarkshelf said...

Chiming in with my opinion.

I am a newly laid off longtime journalist turned blogger/freelancer, so I have been on both sides of the debate.

While I agree that the tone of the article was patronizing, I want to make a few points:

1. There is a difference between blogging and reporting. Traditional journalists would never take swag or sponsorship (although papers might want to consider it, given the financial state of affairs these days). The reporter was trying, I think, to point out that it is a brave, new business model out there, one that moms are embracing. A traditional reporter would never be "sponsored" by Pampers, so I think it is news to some people out there that a blogger can be.

2. I read a ton of Mommy blogs and have for years. While there are some great, funny, informative ones out there, there are some really horrid ones. There are people who call themselves bloggers and want to - and sometimes do - have a following. Except SOMETIMES they are missing the skill that it takes to effectively tell a story. That is both the blessing a curse of being a blogger - anyone can do it, but so few people do it well. Sorry, I know that is unkind, but it is the truth. For everyone getting a book deal there are thousands of bloggers - myself included right now, and I am an award-winning writer who has been doing this for 25 years - who have an audience of a few dozen.

3. Time will tell whether mommy bloggers can stick with it for the long haul. Blogging about the wonder of your newborn or the stress that leads you to the three-martini playdate is fun...but what happens when your kids get older?They will one day. I promise you. Mine is 13 and prefers I not write about his thoughts, feelings, fears or bathroom habits online. The best bloggers will find ways to expand; the ones who can't move beyond the the cute thing junior said in the car are, sadly, going to be moving on to something else. Kind of like journalists these days.

3/14/10, 6:18 PM  
Blogger Kelby said...

Sorry Snarkshelf, but I just couldn't resist replying to this (I HAVE to stop commenting here... LOL):
"Traditional journalists would never take swag or sponsorship (although papers might want to consider it, given the financial state of affairs these days)."

Um, what do you think pays for newspapers? Advertising. As in, sponsors.

And this is a major misconception. Newspapers constantly get freebies. They get free tickets to things that cost money. They get free books to review. They get theater, fair, concert, etc. tickets. May travel writers get free all expense paid trips. There is no disclosure, either. They get free breakfasts, luncheons and dinners. I could go on and on.

When I attended/spoke at Blog World Expo, I was interviewed by two separate journalists about the FTC regulations. I said I was in favor, but that I believed the regulations should encompass ALL media. They said they had no idea what I meant.

I asked both (in completely separate interviews) if they had paid to attend the conference. They were sitting in on sessions, it was a new media conference, and surely they gained knowledge just like the rest of the attendees. Both were shocked I would even ask. Their reply? "Of course not. I'm a journalist."

The tickets cost, I believe, upwards of $1,000.

Journalists do and always have received swag and sponsorships. They just give them different names. And they don't disclose.

3/14/10, 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anne-Marie Nichols said...

OMG, thank you Kelby. I too support full disclosure for all: bloggers, newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies.

3/14/10, 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Snarkshelf said...

Kelby -

Of course ads pay for papers, which in turn pays reporters salaries. That is not what I meant AT ALL. I meant the direct ad placement on an individual "brand" rather than the umbrella "brand" of The New York Times or Washington Post, for instance.

3/14/10, 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Ana L. Flores said...

I have to agree the title was condescending and immediately put me on a defensive mode. Then, I started reading it and it did feel like much more of the same blah, blah, blah.
The title got to me because who says we are not capable of being successful, pro bloggers and not take care of our families (taking care of ourselves is a whole different issue!)? What makes the blogging career, for those of us who do see it as a career-in-the-making, any different than a 9-6/7/8 whatever work-hour?
The reason we have flocked to blogging is because it allows us that flexibility, as well as a sense of achievement and community belonging.

I loved your list of what we mom bloggers are taking on.
What is my blogging cause? To inspire and encourage parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. Pretty petty mommy blogging, no?

3/14/10, 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Suzette said...

So, the sinking NYT ship used a blogger to send out an S.O.S. to life-vest-totting mommy bloggers?

Caution NYT, you don't know if the rope is tied to something that may or may not hold you a float.

Just a though...

3/14/10, 7:09 PM  
Blogger Kelby said...

Snarkshelf, brand and blogger? Not synonyms.

So let me get this straight. So long as there is an umbrella organization handling the ads, it's OK?

Which is funny, because a great many moms who blog use this model via BlogHer ads, Glam, Blogads, Foodbuzz, and any number of other blog ad networks.

So then it's fine, right? Because that would be identical to newspapers?

Splitting hairs.

3/14/10, 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Julie @StageMama.com said...

I'm late to the conversation since houses are flooding in NJ, but I genuinely believe Stephen Sondheim and musical theatre have something to teach us here. Cheers, Liz. As always, you care enough to post the very best. Julie


3/14/10, 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Khali Whatley said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

3/14/10, 7:35 PM  
Blogger Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

Love your alternate title Liz, "Honey Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Making Ends Meet for Our Family in a Tough Economy."

If I weren't working online, I would have to return to working outside of the home. Our family simply needs me to make an income.

Perhaps next the NYT will go after single mothers working two jobs to provide food, clothing and shelter for her children.

3/14/10, 7:49 PM  
Blogger ResourcefulMommy said...

When Jennifer e-mailed following the conference to request a phone interview, I naively assumed that she was either blown away by my Bloggy Bootcamp presentation and wanted to cover it in the Times (to whom she had pitched this freelance piece..."Honey, don't bother mommy I'm busy writing freelance articles" anyone?) or thought I was so cute and smart that she wanted to be my new BFF.

About three questions into the nearly hour long interview I realized that she had gotten in line behind the dozens of other "journalists" who make a living throwing bloggers under the bus, and I began to redirect the conversation by suggesting a positive focus. With every redirect I'd hear this on the other end of the line... **crickets**. Then Jennifer hit me with a redirect of her own asking questions that included phrases such as "tainting social media, "ruining blogging," and "allowing corporations to sink their teeth into unsuspecting moms." I implored her in an e-mail following the interview to look up the posts talking about what a bad mom I am and just borrow from them if that was the piece she intended on writing, but then challenged her to write a positive article showing the great value this has brought to the lives of many moms.

My guess is that the article the Times published is somewhere between what she sold to them - yet another mommy blogger slam article - and what she realized she had - a story about empowered women who were changing their lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of those around them. The fact that she took one of the last things I tried to shove down her throat and used that as my quote makes me believe that she got it at least a little bit, but not enough to remove the snark that makes the article so difficult to take. Why marginalize what we're doing? Why mock us as a community?

I'm waiting for a major media outlet to tell the positive story. When they're ready, we're all here, happy to tell them the facts.

-Amy Lupold Bair

3/14/10, 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read the same piece as I, or are you really so caught up in your own world that you missed the point? First of all, as a journalist myself, I know that the paper chooses the headline. Second -- what's in a headline? Move on. Third, I thought Ms. Mendelsohn's piece actually elevated the work of bloggers. I would get over yourselves and thank the writer for bringing attention to your work.

3/14/10, 8:26 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

She didn't bring attention to my work, Anonymous.

I brought attention to her work.

3/14/10, 8:31 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Sager said...

Snarkshelf: Of course traditional journalists accept swag. My paper would not pay ticket prices for me to cover concerts, and yet I have sat front and center in seats that would otherwise cost as much as $225 to cover a show FOR the paper . . . why? Because the concert venue comped my seat, so they could in turn get coverage for the event in our paper. There is no disclosure, and while I will say it has never made me claim that a show was great, it also sticks in my craw that bloggers are automatically treated as though they couldn't be ethical. Let's face it - there are fabulous bloggers just as there are fabulous reporters and there are slime buckets on either side.

@Mom101 - classy post, and thank you for not tearing down a reporter. I have often gone back to read something I wrote after the editing process was done only to hold my head in my hands - be it because of mistakes put INTO a story, a condescending headline or because quotes were mangled to make people who trusted me to get it right sound like they said something entirely different.

3/14/10, 8:46 PM  
Blogger CheriWiles said...

More often, at my house, it's "Don't Bother Mommy, I Want to Photograph That Meal Before We Eat It."

This is worse, I suppose, than a father saying, night after night, in essence, "don't bother daddy, I'm working"? And then, not even providing a meal? Or dinner conversation? Or affection and attention?

Puh. Leeze. I can hardly believe that a newspaper I so highly regard would publish such a judgmental, derogatory piece. Shameful.

3/14/10, 8:47 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Is there a male chauvinist dishing out the assignments and editing articles at The NYT?

A few years back I had "a real job". Sadly, my career and success climbing the corporate ladder kept me away from my family for almost 12 hours a day. My children went to daycare before school AND after school. Our evenings were a mad dash to complete homework, eat dinner, have bath-time, and go to sleep. Quality time together? No such thing... unless I kept them up to some unheard of hour, and what kind of mother would that make me?

I have no desire to cling to the rungs on someone else's ladder. I'd rather cling to the hands of my children. My choice to stay at home and actually SEE my children grow up is my choice. I enjoy blogging. I enjoy connecting. It also provides me with a sense of accomplishment aside from folding laundry and packing lunches. Do I miss the corporate pay check? Sure, but I wouldn't trade seeing my children and their smiling faces everyday for it. I'm a mother... a blogging mother... and I'm not going anywhere either.

3/14/10, 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:26p

It elevated the work of bloggers, did it?

Can you show me where, because I don't think I read the same article you did.

3/14/10, 8:56 PM  
Blogger 1847 Blake House Inn B&B said...

Amy Lupold Blair asked,"I'm waiting for a major media outlet to tell the positive story. When they're ready, we're all here, happy to tell them the facts."

HGTV is bringing on Blogging Mom Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com.

That, to me, is a big step in the right direction and may lead to other major media for mom bloggers. Remember that most people resist change and while mom blogging has been around for a little while, it's getting more and more attention and competing for a piece of the journalistic pie (whether intentional or not, along with everything else the mommy blogger writes about). Therefore, people feel threatened by the power they realize that mom bloggers possess. There will be those who try to bring them down, but they are fighting a losing battle.

They will either have to get on the mommy train or get run over! Stay strong and keep on!

3/14/10, 9:12 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

What a great post and I love YOUR title!!
Maybe her next article could be about Moms that work outside the home and the title could read something like: "Don't Bother Mommy, just wait here at Daycare while I go to work for 8 Hours!"

3/14/10, 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

@Cathy: Not sure of your intent, but let's not turn this into a SAHM v. WOHM argument.

3/14/10, 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Picking up Cathy's idea, the next two titles in the series could be:

Don't Bother Mommy, she's working the call center from home.


Don't Bother Mommy, she's writing a freelance article that she won't get paid nearly enough for.


Don't Bother Mommy, she's teaching your siblings a curriculum our local public school wouldn't dream of trying.

(that covers the WAHM mom and the homeschool mom -- anyone else have one to try [I am a homeschooling, WAHM mom, so I feel safe with this).

3/14/10, 9:36 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Fish aka Two Fish said...

Since my twins are napping and the oldest has been shipped off for Spring Break with his cousins and Grandmother in San Diego I have time to read all the comments, and these articles. Otherwise I would be letting Spongebob entertain them right? Moving on.

I can see where Jennifer is coming from in her NYT article, however, I think that a very small group of bloggers are represented as mini-van driving, sniveling brats who have the sole goal to "brand," blog all day about conferences and PR schemes, and occasionally starting a cat fight out of boredom. However, many women started a blog as an outlet to share experiences much like others do in the THOUSANDS of forums all over the net; yes we bond, we share, and would rather hear the minutiae of child rearing from another mother than from a degree toting asshat who clearly gave foul advice to our parents...for whom we blog about as well.

Blogging and commenting is no different than a group of moms gossiping about at a park sipping lattes while our children play about on the monkey bars. But the big difference is that some moms have found a niche in blogging, that niche being income even if for a few lattes. Amen to women for having time to share, to make a difference, to walk barefoot and say "You guys."

Because some days we go WITHOUT any adult interaction (or conversations for that matter) and if we can find just an hour a day on the net with other women (and men...for those dads) who are raising kids (because our world is no longer of the "it takes a village" ideals), working 10+ hours a day (at home or otherwise) and find that "OH EM GEE....I am not alone in this world" moment then good for us, we deserve a sanity check. Good for us for also raising our kids and having the balls to blog about how being a mom is NOT pearls and pumps and perfect pot pies. It's ass wiping, teaching, guiding, humbling, loving, and gritty and if we get a package of Tupperware to write about is that really compensation to be compared to the time with our kids?

3/14/10, 9:50 PM  
Blogger Scattered Mom said...

No, no, no..I agree with Julie, this isn't about WOHMs and SAHMs. It's about bloggers who are moms, no matter how we make it work for us. I firmly believe that it's important that we are together on this one. If we dissolve into a SAMH vs WOHM argument, then we are just as silly as that article paints us. No. We are intelligent, strong, vocal women, however our family arrangements work for us.

I hated how the article insinuates that all mom bloggers are moms of small kids, as well. I don't own a mini van, I have a teenager for goodness sake, and I've never received any of the 'perks' that the article talked about. In fact, before I ever blogged I was a published author. I didn't blog because I wanted swag, I blogged because I like to WRITE.

For me, blogging isn't like sitting around a playground sipping lattes and talking. I am long past the days of potty training and sippy cups. There is so much more to me, and my life, then raising my child. Oh sure, it's important. Of COURSE it's important. But I do have a life outside of motherhood.

THAT is what I write about, and what I think the article completely missed.

3/14/10, 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

This is a really strange feeling for me. As a middle-aged white man, I'm rarely the disadvantaged "minority" that's being unfairly maligned. (And yes, I realize how stupid it is to refer to women as a "minority". I'm talking perception here.)

But as the man behind "How To Cook Like Your Grandmother" I get all kinds of feedback from women, and invitations to participate in mom-blogger activities. I'm not surprised by that any more.

What did surprise me is how much I identified with all the women offended by this article. It's not talking about me, exactly, but then it sort of is.

Because of my niche, I also appear in the Style section when I get media coverage. That doesn't bother me so much. But when someone talks about what I do as though it's just a hobby ... well, let's just say that what comes to mind isn't the type of language I usually use on my blog.

3/14/10, 10:09 PM  
Blogger countryfriedmama said...

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say I had a much different reaction to this piece.

While I find the headline and art offensive, I also recognize that the writer very likely had nothing to do with it. And I don't find much to argue with in her article. Her tone, to me, is indicative of one that might be found on a blog. Did she write about every wonderful achievement of women in blogging? No. Clearly, this is not an all-inclusive look at every kind of mom who blogs. It is a short piece on a cultural phenomenon, and as such, seems pretty accurate.

The New York Times called us "a cultural force to be reckoned with" in a piece on the front of a widely read Sunday section. Despite the uproar in our own community, I think my non-blogging acquaintances who read this will be positively influenced by it and look at my "hobby" in a new light tomorrow.

3/14/10, 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I never make comments on blogs but really felt compelled to today. I cant believe the firestorm by mom bloggers around this article. I read it today and must have missed the title on my first read because the impression I came away with was that mom bloggers were a new force to be reckoned with and that they take their work seriously (at home and online). I would recommend that everyone in this obviously tight-knit group go back and actually read the whole article (not just the controversial headline and intro). You'll actually be surprised that its flattering. At least that's one male's unbiased opinion, for what that's worth.

3/14/10, 10:24 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Chris, I appreciate dissenting opinions. There are many represented here.

But don't disrespect the incredibly smart and thoughtful commenters on this post by asserting that they only feel slighted because they didn't read it as thoroughly as you did.

Did you even read my entire post? Or just the controversial headline and intro?

3/14/10, 10:30 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

I read the piece in the NYT the day it came out but, as usual, I'm a day late reading your thoughtful reply, Liz!
Articles like the one in the NYT annoy me beyond belief. Not just because of the patronizing, sometimes snide, tone, but because it's a symptom of a larger problem in society. Society tends to devalue mothers. If it isn't a NYT article about mom bloggers in the Style section, it's a commercial on TV with mom cooking the food, cleaning the house and rearing the children. This sexism is also reflected in a disproportionate number of men heading up companies, writing op eds in said NYT or serving in public office.
I can only assume that the author didn't intend to revert to sexual stereotypes, since she is a mom blogger herself. But sexism, whether intentional or not, can't ever be eliminated if we don't point it out when we see it. So thank you for your thoughtful post, Liz.

3/14/10, 10:35 PM  
Blogger jodifur said...

I spent all weekend thinking about quitting blogging, for reasons that are not important. But this post, and the community that rallied around it, are the reasons that I am still here.

It is clear that traditional journalists don't get it. And I can't leave blogging because I simply don't want to leave this amazing group of women that are smart, brave, talented, and doing amazing things.

3/14/10, 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Lisse said...

I read this last night before my copy of the Times was delivered. Yes, I still enjoy the hardcopy version on a Sunday morning, it gives me the illusion of leisure...

I found the article to be snarky and condescending in a way that it wouldn't have been in a business section. Far, far, worse than the article or the headline, was the graphic that accompanied the article, which is not being shown online.

It shows several instances of a cartoon mother who is totally focused on her elctronics, whether she is biking, driving, or shopping. In several of those instances she is accompanied by a small child who has a single expression -- anger.

3/14/10, 10:44 PM  
Blogger Lolli said...

I was one of the bloggers at Bloggy Boot Camp, and I can attest that she came away with the wrong impression completely. The article was not al bad, but I believe she missed the point.

3/14/10, 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Sociologymom5Q said...

I am a mother of three elementary school-aged sons who is also pursuing a PhD in sociology. My research is primarily in the area of family sociology, so I found both this article and this slew of responses particularly interesting.

As someone who studies both parenthood and women’s labor-force participation, I would like to encourage you all to take a step back and re-evaluate where your daggers are aimed. I personally have endured many of the “bad mommy” criticisms you speak of, having held a full-time job when my older children were babies and now having the “gall” to pursue a highly demanding degree when my kids are still young. The social pressures put on women are unfair and based on gross inaccuracies, not to mention notably missing when it comes to men. That said, I found Jennifer Mendelsohn’s piece to be, quite frankly, pretty innocuous. Aside from the headline, which many rightfully suggest she likely didn’t write, this article is, more or less, simply an expose on a subculture that many people don’t (or at least didn’t until today) know exists. With all due respect, I think you need to consider the idea that the rest of the “condescension” you see in the article may be a result of the possibility that you are reading it with a defensive posture.

Now, let me say, the defensive posture is wholly justified. Mommy critics are everywhere. The problem is, we go into this motherhood gig as failures. Continue to pursue our careers, and we must not love our children. Quit said career and stay home and focus on the kids 24x7, and we’re smothering underachievers. So what is the formula for getting it right? Answer: There is no formula, and we can’t get it right. Regardless of our choices, we have failed at some aspect of our assignment, and we are a generation of women trained to set goals and succeed. This is inherently problematic, and leaves us all feeling pretty crappy about ourselves much of the time. So we lash out at each other and each other’s choices, at the same time that we vehemently defend our own. Hence, the Mommy Wars, and, disappointingly, what I fear may be Round II here: The Mommyblogger Wars.

Jennifer Mendelsohn did not create this problem, nor does she exacerbate it in this article. Like you point out, she is a Mommyblogger herself—and also a journalist who has an eye for noticing an interesting cultural phenomenon and describing it in colorful prose. Some of you may find said prose clever while others see it as “snarky,” but regardless, I’m pretty sure she’s not trying to condescend to people for doing something that she herself spends a fair amount of time doing.

And about that headline … I agree that it probably wasn’t a great choice, but it was likely written by a Times copy editor without the slightest interest in this topic who merely thought that he/she was being witty. In fact, had the same article been titled “Mothers Find a New Voice—and a Little Cash—in Blogging,” we probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But it is also important to note that we feel reproached by headlines like this simply because we moms are all too prone to defending ourselves amid a culture that won’t seem to cut us a break. Want proof of this? Picture the identical story written about Daddybloggers. Would these enterprising men have the same reaction? Would it be, “How dare you marginalize our important work!” or rather, “Thanks for the great exposure!”? I’m pretty certain it would be the latter, simply because we don’t live in a culture in which men are expected to justify their every action in terms of a debt of selflessness that they supposedly owe their children. Jennifer Mendelsohn and the New York Times aren’t the villains here.

3/14/10, 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Sweetpotater said...

Eh, I think y'all are oversensitive. I thought the article was interesting, amusing, and I learned a few things. I didn't find it condescending. And if you are getting your child's birthday party sponsored, you should be able to take a ribbing or two.

3/14/10, 10:47 PM  
Blogger alwayslearning said...

Bravo, well put and keep blogging. Few are able to do what you do.
I have raised my children and am on to my next adventure. (but always there for them, as needed)


3/14/10, 10:53 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I've added the article's accompanying visual to my post. Just FYI.

Thanks to those of you who who referenced it.

3/14/10, 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

I cannot say anything that hasn't been said, truly I can't. I love your post and absolutely think this should be run as a rebuttal to the article they ran!

3/14/10, 11:00 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

I now know what I'm doing wrong. I'm not blogging from my car while I'm driving. Making mental note.

3/14/10, 11:02 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Liz, what can I say?
You're amazing and yes... just, yes.

Thank you for having the voice and giving it to us.


3/14/10, 11:02 PM  
Anonymous amanda said...

Sorry, long-winded me is back. I love the Moms are radioactive and robotic feel of that image.

3/14/10, 11:07 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

Julie- I (a WOHM) didn't read Cathy's comment as a slam on WOHMs. I read it as a slightly sarcastic "gee, what group of moms can the NY Times slam next?" The only thing is, I think they've already slammed us more than once.

SociologyMom5Q- I agree that society judges moms, and we can't really "win" no matter what we do. But I have found that if I make an effort, I can step away from the guilt. Actually, I am a very happy working mom. I love my kids, I love my career, and for me, my arrangement is just right. Sure, it is tiring, but I think motherhood is tiring no matter how you do it. I wish the NY Times, or any mainstream media outlet, would see fit to write a story about people like me someday. Anytime I read a story about working moms, it portrays us as conflicted, guilty, and frankly, miserable for one reason or another. Those articles make me feel worse about my choices, and I have to take a step back and talk myself down after reading them. Since they don't write stories about women like me, I find the voices of other women like me in the mommyblogosphere. And now, the editors of the NY Times have decided that the should have a good sneer at that, too.

I think maybe I should just stop reading the NY Times. .

3/14/10, 11:07 PM  
Blogger samantha said...

Thank you. I can't say anything new that hasn't already been mentioned, but thank you for this and your classy responses in the comments.

3/14/10, 11:08 PM  
Anonymous ABDPBT said...

This is really getting out of hand. The article was not bad people. The only thing bad about it was the fact it was in the fashion & style section.

The fervor here is making this community look silly to outsiders, honestly. The NYT needs to start writing about us in the business section, but a Facebook fanpage about how insulting this article is? Honestly. Get over yourselves.

3/14/10, 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

@Cloud - Thanks for the second look. Guess it shows how jaded I've become from the backlash against moms, no matter what choices we make.

3/14/10, 11:49 PM  
Blogger Mainline Mom said...

Thank you so much, Liz. Especially for highlighting the truly amazing work and results that are really coming out of our efforts every day!

3/14/10, 11:52 PM  
Blogger Eliz said...

That graphic is INSANE! Not only are the children angry but look at all the angry content we're creating on our computers. It's jagged and pointy and probably crazy-making for our childrens!

3/14/10, 11:56 PM  

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