Grappling with semantics, grabbing the power
For me, one of the recurrent themes at BlogHer this year was the continued debate about the use of the term mommyblogger. And I continued to be dumbfounded---perhaps because I'm naive---because I guess that before this weekend, I just didn't think it mattered all that much.
Well, I guess it matters. It matters to a lot of the women I met this past weekend, and matters to a lot of women who were reading about this past weekend, and the debates are raging; and I find myself inspired to say only two things. Because I'm deep like that.
1) Unless you were grown in a petri dish in a sterile room, chances are you had a mom, even if you aren't one yourself. What's with all the hate?
2) Can't we all just get along?
Clearly I am on my way to being a world-renowned diplomat.
Okay, maybe not.
But my inclination, in the face of something like this, is to just step out of the fray. I have no trouble engaging in a debate or even a battle when I feel personally affronted or like there's a difference to be made. But this? Meh. I'm not offended. I know what I think and I'm not bothered. I'm a little saddened, maybe, to see tempers flaring. But as for the debate itself---inherent worth of mommyblogging---I'm a big believer in the channel-surfer philosophy of blogs. Don't like it? Switch.
I just loved Liz's eloquent take on the debate, though, given her perspective:
Having spent the better part of my life as the twenty/thirty-something single gal, I used to write a lot about the alienation I felt from friends who had spawned, and about the toils of being a non-breeder in a breedercentric world. Singledom is a hard habit to break and as such, I still have a knee-jerk response to allign myself with the one gal in the circle not able to contribute an opinion about the Wiggles or a light little anecdote about mucus plugs.
After some musings on the undercurrent of divisiveness she'd sensed this weekend, Liz gets to the meat of it:
There isn't mommyblogging, there is mommybloggings.
There are two groups as far as I can see. There are writers who came to blogs as another medium in which to hone their craft. The community of kindred spirits found through blogging is a wonderful and rewarding but altogether unexpected side benefit. These are the women - me included - for whom the term is inherently limiting. It tells men, older parents, the childless, this writing is not for you. And there is no writer who wants to alienate a potential reader before he or she has even read word one.
The second group of mommybloggers are women who came to blogs as a way to find a community of like-minded people and develop more meaningful relationships than those found in a chat room or an online message board. The writing itself was perhaps secondary to the friendships--or maybe it became more important as time went on. For these women, mommyblogging is entirely the opposite of limiting. It's downright freeing. It's a portal to wonderful things, opening far more doors than it closes.
Thanks, Liz, for putting your finger directly where mine had only been able to hover, prior to reading your post.
Catherine of Her Bad Mother blogged, instead, about her own very personal experience of this weekend, and reminded me of why no amount of grumbling or finger-pointing can take away what some of us gained:
But I left behind something else that I think that I am going to miss almost as hard - the me who was happy and fulfilled in the absence of the loves of my life. The me who could assimilate the quiet ache that is that absence, the pressing ache of those missing limbs, into another kind of energy and move, happily, despite that ache. The me who felt both quieted and stimulated alone (sans child, sans spouse) in the company of other women, other writers, other mothers who, for a moment, put the activity of motherhood or whateverhood aside and said, now, what about me? What about us?
She recalls the sense of utterly right community she felt (and which I felt, as well, until I came to find out that not everyone was sharing my kumbaya experience and I was maybe supposed to be feeling persecuted or something):
Women who walk with babes in arms or babes in tummies or aches for distant babes in hearts (and some, even, without babes, happily without babes), who are fierce and indepedent and determined to carpe the diem despite their fears. Women who work a room like red-hot real estate agents in pink lace pasties. Women who stake their claims. Women who speak their claims. I love these women. I loved being one of these women.
Amen. Amen, amen, and amen. (And I will forevermore picture you in pasties, Catherine.)
I love these women. And I love being one of these women. And that goes for the mommybloggers and the non-mommybloggers, provided you're willing to leave the hate behind. The empowerment is a lot more fun for everyone, anyway.
[image source: Blogging Baby]