Trolling for insight on the MommyBlogging question

Take five minutes and let me know what you think! Okay, seven!

There is o so much to the topic of “MommyBlogging,” which the astute readers among you will notice I have a hard time not placing gently in quotation marks. The more I read about it all, the more the topic splits into bits, some large, others eensy teensy; some obvious, others bracingly illuminating; some disheartening and disillusioning, others refreshing and redeeming.   I am going to continue to read and ruminate a bit more, before I make an arse out of myself in print — in fact, the making of the self an arse in front of one’s peers seems to be one of the special privileges of a tight community, and I’m getting the sneaking sense that yes indeedy “MommyBloggers” are a community.  I figure in the first hours of the jam-packed BlogHer conference next week in San Francisco, this inkling will be decisively confirmed.

What I’ve been wondering is where exactly a lesbian parent blogger gal such as myself fits into this scene.  My uncertainty stems from the fact that  (a) I consider myself more a parent than a mommy; hell, I think I’ve never ever used that word in reference to myself, maybe maybe “mom.”  But no, come to think of it, “mom” has really only come from others, and I answer to it as a concession, on the fly, to another’s innocent address.   And also (b) I read far fewer other blogs than I’d like to, simply because I’m knee deep in diapers, still, and with not nearly enough leisure time. (Then again, when will I ever have enough leisure time? When I had it, I had no clue. Now I have the clue but no longer the leisure.  A tragedy right up there with Youth is Wasted On the Young.)  

Still, I must say that being asked to be on a panel to talk about the topic (hopefully, to mostly chime in now and again during a lively, room-wide conversation) does go a long way toward making a person feel part of a community.  For which I give Elisa Camahort Page a big deep Buddhist bow. (I could keep on going and get all Wayne’s World on her, but that might be a little too self-effacing.  Then again.  I’ll be sorely tempted when I meet her next week.) 

I do read other lesbian parent blogs, a lot. And keep track of them, as one among a clump of gals pruning the weeds and watering the flowers at the site that Liza started, LesbianFamily.org.  But I still feel I’d have to do a ton more reading before I could fairly characterize what this diverse group of people are writing about, and why.  Other than: TO KEEP ONE ANOTHER COMPANY  and TO KEEP OUR HEARTS AFLOAT and OUR KIDS AS WELL-RAISED AS THEY CAN BE, under the circumstances (and amidst the blessings) our parenthoods afford them.

For the moment, I ain’t seeing the advertisers beating a path to lesbian parent bloggers’ email inboxes, dying to grab a-holt of the powerful lesbian mum buying dollar. Or worse, dying to get us to infiltrate our blog content with oblique, off-hand references to their products.  But maybe that’s just around the corner.  And maybe that’ll never happen.  I’m the last to be able to speak on that matter knowledgeably.  Even if I do harbor opinions about it all.

Clearly you can take the gal out of academe, but you can’t take the academe out of the gal, because I am loathe to make any further pronouncements until I’ve read up a whole semester’s worth of verbiage.  But themes are emerging.  That I can say.  And next week, I hope to say more, dedicating several posts (as many as the regular childcare exigencies permit) to the topic, as workout in preparation for Friday morning’s chit-chat (at which I do dearly hope to see somebody or another I know!  a neighbor or two has told me they are going, and I’d love to know who else to look out for).  But this week, a few other things are on my mind and chewing up the highly limited leisure, aka non-childcare, hours.  Such as our Friday nuptials in City Hall, and the welter of feelings the whole shebang has stirred up.  Will I have time to do them justice?  Would that I could say with confidence!  

Meanwhile, please do help me say with confidence how YOU might answer the question, “Is MommyBlogging still a radical act?”  I’ve done up a nice little five-minute survey to help you speed the answer to me, if you’re shy about commenting in public here (which folks did to my great illumination a few weeks back).  In fact, even if you would or will or have commented, I’d love more survey responses, since the multiple-choice questions can generate very useful data points.

 And now: spend a whistle-stop five minutes telling me what you think!

[Addendum, coupla hours after initial posting] This just in: I realized I could share the results with you in real time.  So here: here’s the link you can go to to see what you all are coming up with.  Just plug in: <LDsurveyresults> (you know, without the carots) as the password.  Since the responses are all anonymous, I’m hoping that the 22 folks who have already done the survey as of this writing [almost 10am, PST on Wednesday July 9] won’t feel retroactively “pantsed.”  I.e. revealed.  Hoping.  Hereafter, know that the results are generally viewable.

[Yet another addendum, even later] Will you people please remind me to run a survery every single month? You are so interesting! And so many of you chat a lot more (or even at all? the blessings of anonymity) in the survey format. Maybe it’s the focus, and the ability to try to line up easily legible responses via some scripted answers. Whatever it is, I will have to just have some kind of venue for you to continue suggesting survey topics that you’d like run, so that you can have the opportunity to hear each other better. I’m tellin’ ya. It’s like how the very best class discussions happen when the teacher leaves the room for a minute to go and pee or something.

10 Responses to Trolling for insight on the MommyBlogging question

  1. RaJen July 9, 2008 at #

    I did your survey, but the last question, the one polling demographics, was not complete. It only showed 1 box to check and the response with it was “I” and that was it! Anyway, just wanted to let you know. Rachel

  2. wyliekat July 9, 2008 at #

    I think we are all going to put our own bias into the responses, which is probably why mine is so heavily related to my own theories about feminism, and why mommyblogging is important in that context.

    I’m having a bit of a love/hate relationship with “the community”, I have to admit. I’ve been in the ‘sphere for a long time, but on a platform that seems largely ignored. Now that I’m emerging into the more accepted platforms, I’m a newbie, with all the trials and tribulations that come along with that. Frustrating, because I can tell you that newbies could very easily feel marginalized by the pre-existing community.

    I’m a tougher old bird than that, only because I know that after eight years blogging is in my blood and I won’t quit regardless of who accepts, who reads or where I’m accepted. But for someone who’s just looking for some support or a community, they’re likely not going to be around for long.

    Maybe blogher should consider an one to one mentoring program, if they’re serious about it.

  3. LesbianDad July 9, 2008 at #

    RaJen, thanks! Egregious, wee hrs of the night oversight. Now corrected.

    I’m really interested in your thought, here, wyliekat, since you are indeed a vet, and I still feel a bit of a rookie. Here’s something I thought of, when I was reading what you said: I wonder whether this differs for people who have a deeper sense of connectedness to online community and identity? I fear that, because I was of Advanced Age when the World Wide Internet came to be (okay, okay: I was grad school. they issued me an email address and I didn’t even know for two years what it was, or what to do with it), I don’t quite see community in it as clearly? Maybe? I mean, I do, for sure, see the powerful lines of communication and insight. But less so the snippy in-groupishness. Which is so not to say it’s not there. But I might be studiously overlooking it, like I tried to in high school (my bleakest years, by far).

    Maybe because my own time online is so terribly erratic (relatively speaking, I’m sure), and I know that it’s my very short windows of leisure time that foreclose a lot of my correspondence and connection-making outside this (LD) forum, I presume that pertains for others, too. Though I’ll also say that what I’m reading of debates within the more conventional so-called “mommy blogs” (hetero? widely read? big name? ad revenue-supported? how the heck to characterize ’em) gives me the sense that people are very tightly connected. Or can be. Which then of course means that they are not tightly connecting to others. I refer us back to the note at the close of the above paragraph, re: high school years being my bleakest, by far. Cliques? Ick! Clumps of kindred spirits, though? Yay! I hope against hope that we have the latter going on here at Casa LD.

    To the person who wrote “i thought you said this was a five minute survey?!?!” in the survey, er, well. Um, sorry. I am a notoriously poor judge of time; ask my longsuffering partner of 14 years. It just might take more than five minutes if you happen not to be inclined toward the breezy, rapidly composed, off-the-cuff synopsis-kind of response. Um, to essay questions.

    And if the term “essay question” strikes terror in anyone’s heart, remember: This is not a test! If it were a real test, you would have been given instructions! And an “A” for even showing up! I hated grading, when I had to (surprised?).

  4. wyliekat July 9, 2008 at #

    wyliekat, since you are indeed a vet, and I still feel a bit of a rookie.

    Oh, maybe I’m a vet, but I’m a long time livejournaller, which is anathema, or so it seems. I have only been out here in the bigger blogosphere for a wee while. In that sense, you are more the vet than I.

    Shall we have the polite dance of demurring, here? ;-}

    I wonder whether this differs for people who have a deeper sense of connectedness to online community and identity?

    In specific relation to mommyblogging, I think this is my exact point. I mean, ask a “popular kid” from back in the day if there were cliques, and they’d probably say no. They might even give you a one two blinky before it, so shocked would they be.

    In general? That’s a possibility. I’m 34 and well-aware of the fact that on the sliding scale of age and participation online, I’m a bit of a senior citizen myself.

    However, from what I’ve seen, mommybloggers are mostly in the senior set. Doesn’t really relate, you know?

    I do, for sure, see the powerful lines of communication and insight. But less so the snippy in-groupishness. Which is so not to say it’s not there.

    I would hesitate to call it snippy in-groupishness. More habitual in-groupishness. And the fact that there is already a proliferation, most people seem to just throw their hands up in the air and stick to who they know, rather than trying to wade into the flood.

    I get this, which is why I’m charging an organization (BlogHer) with the task of sorting and making it easier for the old time residents to help out with the newbies on a more intimate basis. Kind of like AA. ;-}

    I know that it’s my very short windows of leisure time that foreclose a lot of my correspondence and connection-making outside this (LD) forum, I presume that pertains for others, too.

    Of course. Especially with people with families and children and careers and busy lives. Which most of us have/are. Still, we’re here, ain’t we?

    Though I’ll also say that what I’m reading of debates within the more conventional so-called “mommy blogs” (hetero? widely read? big name? ad revenue-supported? how the heck to characterize ‘em)

    Celebloggers?

    I refer us back to the note at the close of the above paragraph, re: high school years being my bleakest, by far. Cliques? Ick!

    I’ve yet to find a person I really liked who doesn’t same some variant of this.

  5. sussabmax July 10, 2008 at #

    I think everyone (even the popular kids) remembers high school as a difficult time. Some may have an easier time than others, but everyone is going through puberty, with all the hormone changes and uncertainty, which makes everything seem much worse than it is! That’s why they form cliques–to shore up their fragile egos.

    Great survey, LD, thanks! If you could get bigger boxes for those essay questions, it would help. It’s hard to maintain a flow when you can only see about 10 words at a time!

  6. LesbianDad July 10, 2008 at #

    Thank you, sussabmax. And oo! Oo! The boxes “tug” and get bigger. I agree (need a nice expanse of space before me). Couldn’t set the size, so far as I could see. But I’ll put a note in there so folks can tug henceforth, if the little tuggie lines in the lower right corner don’t tempt enough.

  7. innercitygarden July 10, 2008 at #

    In my scan of the responses, after I’d filled in the survey myself, I noticed a few people mentioned that women talking or writing about parenting isn’t new, which is true, I think what’s relatively new is that women are doing it in public. It’s not a letter to one trusted friend, or a conversation in the backyard, it’s out there for all the world to find and comment on. Somebody else mentioned blogging as something that mothers have defined as a need, a thing they/I do for ‘me time’. I’m inclined to agree, having some ‘me-time’ isn’t radical either, but most of the things mothers do for ‘me-time’ are actually in some way serving others. Lord knows old parenting books are full of ‘take time out for yourself and get your hair cut and your nails done’ etc etc, which is something one does for oneself, but is also something one does to fit in, conform to femine ideals, look attractive for ones partner and so on. Blogging as radical was rejected by a few people because it doesn’t lead to action, but I would argue that mothers who do something pointless, or unproductive, just because they feel like it, are pretty bloody radical. Women are largely expected to fulfill their creative urges by cooking and making things.

  8. Vikki July 10, 2008 at #

    I did the survey. I had planned to really delve into the topic now that my children are gone and my brain is supposedly now able to fire at its old level but found that, well, I’m still a little brain dead. So, my answers were shorter than I thought they would be 🙂

  9. virgotex July 13, 2008 at #

    I don’t feel qualified to answer this question as I’m aware of the “mommy blogging” controversies, but not at all engaged in them. Or at least the ones dujour.

    Re “parenting blogs,” I read only two that are identified as such, with any regularity: yours and another one, by some wacked-out straight chick in Utah who tortures her dog with wigs

    My observations based on that limited sampling:

    you would likely sell more t-shirts if you changed the name of this blog to lesbian dooce.

    From my standing on the sidelines viewpoint, it seems like the key, and perhaps, overarching benefit above and beyond the negatives, the controversies, and difs in culture is COMMUNITY.
    I don’t mean to be dismissive of the other points (because there is no hair so fine that I, as a notarized lesbian, won’t split) but in this world, at this time, community is a precious resource.

    When Heather went on the Today show a couple months back, it was a total trainwreck. Srsly, it was mind-bloggling. Three things dominated the brief segment: 1) weeee hoooo! you chicks are raking in the dough! 2) so, how do you feel about selling your innocent child’s soul down the river for the world to see?, and 3) so, what is this thing they call the interwebs?

    It was not the only such illustration that we have witnessed (the same trainwreck regularly occurs in the political blogging world), but what that little twilight zone episode illustrated was that those who live within, and those who subsist on a diet of, old media do not in anyway shape or form understand, the legitimacy of the deep community the internet affords. Yeah, there may be a market with various submarkets, there but it’s people connecting to people that is the point. That is the real transformative part.

    People connecting with people you say? Why should that be transformative? That’s what people are supposed to do, isn’t it? Aha: yes. But no.

    and that’s where simple answers part starts to unravel. Because this is a complex issue happening in real time as the world changes around us.

    But there are forces, substantial indeed, that want us- lbgqt, straight, parent and non, voters, citizens — people all of us, everyone— to remain passive and frozen in distance from each other. And we need NOT to be. We are not meant to be. Now more than ever, for many reasons, this is true. People coming together should never be a radical act in and of itself, but that’s where we are right now. People coming together in communities, not markets.

    And that transcends the smaller questions, me thinks.

  10. LesbianDad July 13, 2008 at #

    Wow.

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