Today I am really pleased to be publishing another guest post written in response to the piece I wrote entitled: ‘Mummy Blogging. Just how important is it?’ This time I am honoured to be sharing my space with Elizabeth from Spilt Milk, who is such a gifted writer and story teller that I would urge anybody who doesn’t already do so to subscribe to her blog. In fact go and read this post – written about the Australian bush fires. It absolutely blew me away when I read it.
Anyway, here’s what she has to say about mummy blogging and the importance of womens on-line writing…
“It’s still my room”
I don’t think I’m a ‘mummy blogger’. No one’s ever called me that. As far as I’m aware, I’m not under ‘mummy/mommy blogger’ on any lists. And perhaps this is because the blogs that I comment on and put on my own blogroll are not the kind of mummy blogs that readers of the New York Times article were encouraged to imagine. They are not the kind of blogs which are solely concerned with Timmy’s weekend basketball game, cooking batches of Grandma’s cookies, and the baby hitting milestones on time (or not).
But so what? Not everybody blogs for the same reasons – or rather, the reasons that people blog (expression, community, communication, sharing and yes, sometimes business) mean different things to everyone. Some people use blogs as a communication tool, to share photos and stories with family and friends. Sure, sometimes those stories might seem inane to readers to whom they are not addressed. But that’s not because the writers are mothers – frankly, I’d find a man’s blog about restoring a boat or cooking his way through ’101 Ways With Mince’ pretty boring and inane too. The difference is, a man’s project – not pertaining to children – is considered to be of some intrinsic value. If it doesn’t have broad appeal, then it merely becomes eccentric. But a woman’s project – particularly a project which is informed by her low-status role as a mother? Well, that’s a different, more easily dismissed story.
Thus, because my blog isn’t exclusively about parenting and because it’s not the daily journal kind, it’s not had the ‘mummy blog’ label whacked on it. (Or perhaps it’s just not been noticed by the label-whackers.) Even so, it probably could be labelled that. I write about motherhood and about being a daughter. I write about feminism through the prism of parenthood. The title, Spilt Milk, came about because I thought it would be a blog all about breastfeeding and birth, about the physical business of being a woman and the emotional work of mothering. Through no fault of its own it morphed into more – and less – than that, but such is the nature of online writing.
You could call me a ‘mummy blogger’, if you liked. Part of me used to react with almost violent negativity to the term and I have no doubt this is because of internalised misogyny: we all know it, the stereotype of the brainless mother and her gushing. And this is why, I think, the New York Times article pushed so many buttons right around the blogosphere. We knew what it was we were being painted as because it is a painting we know well. Some of us see it in the mirror but most of us spend our days hoping that it isn’t us, hoping that others can see through the tracksuit-with-baby-sick to the intelligence and uniqueness underneath. Or conversely, some of us spend our days working for money or otherwise projecting a professional image onto the world, and long to be also seen as a nurturer. Pigeon-holes are squashy places and I don’t know anyone who likes to be in them, especially if they are the kind relegated near the bottom by society.
I’m not sure if reclaiming ‘mummy/mommy blogger’ in order to subvert the misogyny that has made this term infantilising and dismissive is the best route, but I’d be supportive of anyone who tried it. For me, I think a complete move away from any such labelling is more important. Women have long fought for a room of our own in which to create, express and craft meaning. A blog is that room in an online form. Almost anyone with enough privilege to access the internet can make her own room and perhaps this is a frightening prospect to those who are invested in keeping women silent about their daily struggles and also in keeping them out of the marketplace.
But they can’t quiet us. Call us what they may, we’re here, we’re talking, we’re networking, we’re spreading ideas and some of us are even making money out of it. Even at the same time as having children! And I believe – because I have to – that it’s only going to get louder. The Hotel Internet has a LOT of rooms.