Beneath my sharp, witty, so-damn-cool-you-wouldn’t-believe-I-had-kids exterior, I am a total mummy blogger at heart. Here are just some of the hot topics about which I’ve blogged:
- potty training
- flowery aprons
- cleaning products
- school selection anxiety
- more cakes
When it comes to immersing oneself in a virtual “cupcake-scented world”, I’ve got it covered. All of which makes me just the kind of woman Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones would pity.
It’s odd, really, having Liz Jones – Liz sodding Jones – feel sorry for you, yet barbed pity is what emanates from in her latest column, a prolonged swipe at mummy bloggers. I mean seriously, Liz, don’t worry. We all know you have your own issues to deal with (since, as an “artist”, you’re one of those people who has to “wrench the dirtiest, most disgusting part of their inner soul and show it to the world”). Just don’t bother about us mummies, “little women who instead of tapping away at the glass ceiling swap recipes and tips for getting a child off to sleep”. Given that a wanton act of sperm banditry didn’t work, none of this is your problem. Just tell us more about the animals and working for Marie Claire. Forget the fact that questions on the Mumsnet site “range from ‘Do you enjoy breastfeeding?’ to ‘What choosing an unusual pet says about you’’’ (by the way, I’m reading this on the Daily Mail site, with links to the issues that really matter, such as “the first Fifty Shades divorce” and “Paul McCartney and wife two feet from disaster in helicopter drama”). Here’s a tip for you, Liz: if you’re not interested in breastfeeding discussions, just ignore them! They’re not required reading (unless, I suppose, your brief is “find random, unsustainable reasons to mock the experiences of mothers”).
In my humble, mumsy opinion, there are several things going on here. Obviously if you’re a person with serious things to discuss – such as baking cakes – you don’t want public space to be taken up with women wittering on about irrelevancies – such as baking cakes. It doesn’t matter that the internet offers enough space for everyone to have a say or that you’re objecting to mothers having perfectly legitimate exchanges that wouldn’t bother you in the least were they kept in the confines of a baby group. Clearly there’s something unseemly about mothers going public about what they do all day. Have these women no pride? Anyone with the slightest hint of self-respect should know better than to be openly concerned about feeding a newborn infant or getting a full night’s sleep. It’s the X-Factor we should be talking about.
Of course, there’s also the “moaning” element. When mummy bloggers aren’t being fluffy and irrelevant, they’re probably moaning. This is why, whenever you’ve spent hours reading a blog that is of no interest to you whatsoever, it’s important to tell the blogger each of the following things:
- she’s not the first person to have a baby. Women have been doing it since the beginning of time without making such a fuss.
- she chose to have a baby, therefore she has no right whatsoever to say anything bad about the experience of motherhood
- she’s way too middle-class and privileged to have anything to complain about (NB, you can say this even if you know nothing about the individual blogger’s background. Women with opinions are always “privileged” and therefore obliged to shut up)
Even after you’ve said all of this, mummy bloggers still have a tendency to carry on moaning. In which case, you should just read something else (Femail is probably a good place to start. No irrelevant moaning there – on the contrary, there’s always some deep, dark, deadly serious misogynist point to be made).
Do you know what I think the main problem is, though? Unlike Liz Jones and her ilk, mummy bloggers don’t tend to be professional writers (or “artists”). Their work is essentially a form of vanity publishing, therefore it ought to be shit. Alas, it generally isn’t, and that’s the worst thing of all. Plenty of mummy bloggers are funny, interesting, witty, clever and/or just very good with words. As someone who works in an industry which is having to face up to competition from free materials online, I understand the anxiety of someone who makes their living from writing having to witness others giving away words for free. Perhaps many of the latter are wannabe writers anyhow. Perhaps if the boot was on the other foot and they experienced the same threat, they’d feel the urge to lash out, too. None of this means mummy bloggers can’t write or don’t deserve to be read, at least by those who are interested in what they’ve got to say. And some of us just enjoy writing. On a personal level, I’d say that with me, it’s partly the latter, but that it is rather vain, this desire to be listened to. It’s not something of which I’m proud. All the same, I won’t be lectured on vanity by Liz Jones of all people.
Furthermore, I won’t be warned about feeling “the hand of the patriarchy on [one's] back” by someone who writes for the Daily Mail. Give me a break, Liz. I know my Jabba the Hutt cake isn’t going to change the world, but at least it didn’t leave a nasty taste in the mouth.