This morning I awoke to discover that the real problem with feminism right now is Mommy Bloggers; not male violence against women, endemic poverty, the destruction of reproductive rights or the fact that we still don’t have equal pay for equal work despite the legislation being in place for years. Nope, it’s Mommy Bloggers who are ruining feminism for feminists.
Now, I do disagree with Amana Manori’s definition of feminism as I don’t think “feminism is simply the belief in the equality of rights and opportunities for men and women”. For me, feminism is nothing short of the full liberation of women. Equal rights and opportunities for women can not exist in a world where male violence against women is so common place that it rarely makes the news. I don’t like the idea of “choice” feminism because it removes women’s actual experiences from the Patriarchal-Capitalist structures of our culture. The idea of choice is irrelevant when many women experience violence on a daily basis and others live in poverty.
Manori’s definition is that of choice feminism, yet she’s written an article denigrating the choices of other women. I genuinely don’t know where to start with this article because there is so much wrong with it: starting with the premise that it’s okay to belittle other women’s work. I don’t care what definition of feminism you are using, it is never okay to belittle other women’s work nor their personal life experiences. Criticise the structures which limit women’s opportunities and blame women for not being perfect but dismissing Mommy Blogs isn’t feminism. It’s the Patriarchy kicking women. Again.
Frankly, this is just wrong:
Some of the biggest hurdles in the strides for equal opportunity include women and their issues being improperly depicted and the lack of self-promotion that affects recognition and access to opportunities. What I’ve noticed is that when women are not being misrepresented, they are often underselling themselves. The blogosphere is as an amazing tool that is easily accessible to help correct these problems: self-promotion has never been easier.
The biggest hurdles for women are male violence. And, our “issues being improperly depicted” completely misses the point of the Patriarchy. The Patriarchy doesn’t care about how women’s issues are depicted because it doesn’t care about women’s issues. That’s kind of the point. As for women “underselling themselves”, well yes, that happens a lot. Why? Because the moment women talk about their skills accurately they are insulted, denigrated and maligned. Women are socialised from birth to minimise our skills. How about we blame the Patriarchal structures which punish women rather than blaming women for not wanting to suffer public humiliation?
And, I’m sorry but this bit is offensive:
Mommy blogs that present neurotic, emotionally unstable, kid-crazed mothers, is a misuse of this opportunity. What concerns me the most is that this is a misuse at the hands of women themselves — we, ourselves, are the ones that are turning this tool into another obstacle to progression.
There is no excuse for using disablist language. There’s no excuse for not recognising that women can be mothers and mentally ill and feminists. The three are not mutually exclusive but that’s not what Manori means. She’s using disablist language as shorthand for dismissing the group of women who happen to want to write about being mothers.
Of course, Manori tries to minimise this woman-blaming discourse by separating “good” Mummy Bloggers from “bad” Mummy Bloggers. She doesn’t succeed. Instead, she reinforces the same anti-woman Patriarchal bullshit that feminists have been fighting against for years. There is no excuse for this kind of woman-blaming rhetoric. Women blog because it’s one of the only spaces women have to share their stories, their thoughts and their lives without being silenced and dismissed. We blog about different things because women are different. I blog about feminism. I have friends who blog about parenting, others who blog about living overseas, and some who blog about sports. We have different interests so we blog about different things. Dismissing one group of women bloggers by patronising them with this twaddle:
(t)hese bloggers likely have the noble intentions to create a forum where women know that they are not alone in their experiences.
isn’t feminism. Blaming women for what they write about isn’t feminism. Telling women what to write about is the Patriarchy exerting control. It isn’t feminism. It is blaming women for having opinions and thoughts.
Sure, some of these blogs are problematic in that they “perpetuate gender stereotypes and generalize female behaviour”. So does the mainstream media. Every fucking day. And, they are a lot more powerful than a bunch of women bloggers. How about we start focusing our anger on the mainstream media since they are the ones supporting the eroticisation and glamorisation of male violence against women
This bit is just facile nonsense.
First, many mommy bloggers may be living very fulfilling and well-rounded lives that you don’t get to see through their blogs. However, when all they talk about is such things as making homemade organic-only baby food, they disregard these other aspects of their lives resulting in a partial portrayal of motherhood.
Women who blog about parenting do so because that is what they want to write about. Requiring them to write about everything else in their life ignores the fact that they want to write about parenting and making organic-only baby food. I don’t because it doesn’t interest me. But, it also doesn’t make me feel like a bad mother to read that other mothers do like making organic baby-food; another charge Manori lays at the feet of Mommy Bloggers. They don’t “isolate other mothers who don’t measure up”. The Patriarchy isolates women because women supporting women is a massive threat to Patriarchal control.
And, frankly, if the “rest of society” reads Mommy Blogs and decides that the “life of a woman is simplifed”, then they are stupid. No one with an ounce of sense reads a blog and thinks that’s the only thing that the blogger has going for them. FFS, I’ve seen blogs by men dedicated solely to the meat pie. Does Manori genuinely believe that meat pies are the only thing these men having going for them?
Unfortunately, Manori may think this is not what she has done:
I am not saying being a mother or a stay-at-home mom is not meaningful work. I respect the choice to stay home and I understand the many reasons why women opt to do so. I also know that there are a lot of sacrifices and compromises that are made when women decide to stay home.
But, it is. After all, I’ve never read a Mommy Blogger who didn’t work since, you know, childcare is work. Some, shockingly, even work outside the home. Fundamentally, though, childcare is work and we devalue the experience of all women when we claim it isn’t. It isn’t about being a SAHM or a WOHM. It is about recognising that childcare is work.
After all, I want my daughter to have positive women role-models in her life: women who don’t think they have the right to dictate how other women should live their lives or think they have they right to tell women which of their stories are acceptable for publication.
Requiring Mommy Bloggers to be “domestic trailblazers” is just unkind. And, it’s not feminism. So, let’s stop pretending it is.