Why do people hate mummy bloggers?

Most people really don’t like mummy bloggers, do they? By this I don’t mean that the latter are facing intolerance on a daily basis. It’s not as though there are crowds lining up with pitchforks outside Mumsnet Towers (having said that, I’m not sure whether that’s even a real building). Anyhow, I just think that, if you asked most people what they thought of mummy bloggers, those who bothered to have opinions at all would not be expressing positive ones. 

You could say it stands to reason. To the outside observer, mummy bloggers are like Private Eye’s Polly Filla, only with less successful writing careers. They’re whingey middle-class moaners, who think their children are the centre of the universe and that everyone else should be gripped by the trials and tribulations of parenthood. They write whiney posts about potty training, behaviour management, cake baking, childcare guilt and cleaning products. They even write whiney posts about whining. Narcissists of the hearth, they’re unable to see beyond the domestic sphere and engage with what really matters. What’s more, they’re so self-obsessed that they’re even aware that this is going on (in case you didn’t check – why ever not? – all of the above links lead to posts written by me. I’m so vain, I’m pretty damn certain this post is about me).

I have been a mummy who blogs for almost a year now. My bloggiversary is 26 March, hence I’m running out of time for all those “most brilliant new blogger” awards.

 <mutters something under breath about not being remotely competitive or jealous and the MADs and Britmums all being a fucking clique anyhow, just like at school … >

Ahem, where was I?  Yes, I’ve been blogging for almost a year and I have come to realise that there are a great deal of things that are annoying about mummy bloggers and the mummy blogging “scene”. The first is that loads of mummy bloggers are more popular than me (my highest ever Tots 100 ranking is 251. Not that I have ever looked, or indeed cared. That was just a random guess). The second is that mummy blogging is way more cut-throat and competitive than mummy bloggers want it to look (or at least it is to competitive people, of which I am not one, obviously. That Tots 100 thing? Don’t even know it exists. Someone else must have hacked into my blog and put the badge there).  The third is that mummy bloggers write about boring stuff, that is, family stuff, which is by definition boring (except when it’s my family, who are by turns heartrendingly plucky and utterly hilarious). And the fourth? The fourth is that if you have enough time on your hands – or even if you don’t (you might just be avoiding unloading the washing, as I am totally not doing right now) – you can sit around picking out various mummy blogger “types” and quietly dying inside as you realise that, in one way or another, you represent all of them:

  • the one attempting a cunning double bluff by writing endless posts about what a rubbish mum she is (no, I’m not self-deprecating and overly critical – I really am rubbish)
  • the one who thinks any and every family mishap is a classic comedy moment in the making (personally, I do this a lot in relation to my kids throwing up. Guess we all have our specialisms)
  • the one who confuses “thinking sad thoughts” with “needing to over-share to the extent that she’s now thinking of ways to get on a witness protection scheme so that a new identity will be created for her” (… cough …)
  • the one who just rants about her in-laws all the time (not me, that one. I deleted all of those. Not that they ever existed)
  • the one who’s just in it for free stuff (although to be fair, that Ecover washing liquid lasted ages)
  • the one who’s got caught up in some endless meta-circle of hell and just blogs about blogging about blogging about blogging about blogging (note to self: must write a blog about that, plus a follow-up)

The thing is, though, all of these annoyances are kind of specific to actually being a mummy blogger. It’s insider stuff. Hell, it might even just be me. Why, quite frankly, anyone else should feel affronted is quite beyond me. The average mummy blog will not be appearing on a screen near you unless you want it to be. If the mere possibility of people you don’t know being dull and self-indulgent is so disturbing in and of itself, how on earth do you cope with humanity in general?

And yet it seems that mummy blogging is a special case. Merely existing, even outside of other people’s virtual space, is enough to cause offence. You just shouldn’t be. Or rather, you should, but you need to keep quiet about it. Today @TheRealSGM highlighted – and wrote a cracking response to – an article which accused bloggers who “only focus on their roles as mothers” of producing blogs which  “perpetuate gender stereotypes and generalize female behaviour”. Such bloggers are apparently creating “a step back for feminism”. Silly them. Didn’t they realise that if you’re not yet living the post-feminist dream, the most progressive thing to do is to sort of pretend that you are?

I suspect that most people who dislike mummy blogs don’t do so on feminist grounds. They’re just unhappy with the idea of silly mummies wittering on about their pathetic lives and making a big deal out of day-to-day domestic crap like PND, miscarriage, breastfeeding, all that useless “wimmin’s stuff” about which “we” don’t want to hear. Even so, it doesn’t surprise me to see mummy blogging also being attacked for not being feminist enough. In many ways it feels quite fitting given where feminism is right now. If mummy blogs are feminist at all, they’re a bit second wave, aren’t they? A bit too focused on motherhood and domestic life, as though that defines womanhood itself. And while, for some of us, it still does – regardless of where choice comes into it  – motherhood and childcare are perceived by some feminists to be self-indulgent, done-to-death, middle-class issues. Last year, writing in the Independent, Laurie Penny asked “When did feminism narrow its horizons so that the absolute maximum we’re prepared to fight for is the rights of a minority of women to be admitted into a sexist labour market whilst managing the school run on the side?” I was not aware of feminism having narrowed its horizons in this way (not least because of the broad range of global feminist issues discussed by mummy bloggers). All the same, if a minority of women are not entitled to have some space in which to rant about the minutiae of domestic life – and the relatively minor inequities of having to be the one who does the school run – then feminism’s even more narrow than that. Part of the whole point of second-wave texts such as The Women’s Room was to show that women’s voices aren’t listened to because their experiences are understood to be generic and irrelevant. Childcare and domestic labour merely provide a backdrop to supposedly real life and real experience, which are considered to be male. Marilyn French might have focused solely on the lives of privileged middle-class women, but her broader point still stands. As soon as you start claiming that women who share recommendations for organic baby food are “letting down” feminism, you’re suggesting their experience is subordinate to some greater quest for validity, a quest upon which no cis heterosexual man has ever had to embark.

Cringe-making as the title itself may be, mummy blogs are varied in their approach and outlook, even if for many the main focus is family and domestic life. I love some blogs, others set my teeth on edge. Most, I’ll be honest, I haven’t looked at yet (there are too many). But I see them all caught between two forms of sexism – the first, old-style sexism, which just demands that mummies shut up because they’ve nothing useful to say, and the second, a new form, which mistakes equality for asking women to downplay those aspects of their lives which appear too gender stereotypical. None of this is fair (although obviously not as unfair as me never getting on the longlist for any mummy blogger awards. They’re all so incapable of recognising genius busy discussing the issues that truly matter to them).

26 thoughts on “Why do people hate mummy bloggers?

  1. Hello! I think this is a really interesting post. I’m new to mummy blogging as I only started a month ago. I think that blogging, like parenting and like life, actually, does highlight many of the points you discussed. There will always be cliques in life and those who criticise others for being outspoken/not outspoken enough/too real and honest/not real… You get my drift! I like the point you make about people having a choice about what they read. Surely their energies would be better spent finding more suitable reading material than taking the time to moan and complain! I generally think that if we all had more faith in our choices and circumstances we wouldn’t the need to criticise others in order to validate our own views.
    I find writing my blog to be therapeutic for me and so far the feedback I’ve received seems to indicate that others are benefitting from it too. So I’m going to soldier on with my quest for more mummy kindness via my blog and I’ll leave the nay-sayers to find something else to read! Thanks for sharing this really interesting post!
    Rachel
    Mummykindness.com

    1. Interesting perspective, I wonder sometimes if those who criticise mummy bloggers are really just using that as a reference point for defining their own identities. You are aboslutely right, it is always possible to just click away, but they don’t.

  2. Agree with Mummykindness (I’m feeling too lazy to formulate own response today). Interesting read. I did have a feeling we weren’t liked much…

    P.S. Mummykindness – I’m reading your blog and love it.

  3. Love this post, but I have been wanting to write for AGES about how much I hate the term mummy blogger. Yes I am a mother, and yes I have a blog. Or three. But I feel the term is very mocking, and seeks to reduce women who happen to be mothers, and who happen to express themselves via a blog, to something of a joke. But there are a lot of good bloggers out there who just happen to be mums, and that should not define everything they are and do.

  4. I’ll echo the comment I left on SGM’s post. I write a blog that has so far covered sewing, baking, feminism, ableism, my struggle with self image and self-harm, and last night I wrote a post about organising a stationery drawer. If Amana Manori thinks that those things are killing feminism she can frankly kiss my fat fabulous feminist arse.

  5. Great post and I agree on the need to value women’s (and men’s) domestic contributions and labour. Problematising that public/private binary is a major theme in feminism, and think Penny et al are wrong to dismiss motherhood as only a form of gender traditionalism. However, I think one of the most irritating things about some (not all) Mummy bloggers is how judgmental they can be in relation to other women. That’s what irritates me, and that I think IS a betrayal of feminism and one of the reasons why the ‘Mummysphere’ has got a reputation for being white, middle class and smug. Not saying you’re one of those people, BTW – I love reading your blog!

    1. I completely agree with you regarding your point on judgement. I really do believe that the judging of others comes from a place of not having faith in your own choices when it comes to parenting. I think that if more people were aware of this within themselves they could turn their own judgements in to opportunities to learn more about why they feel the need to be negative. We all need to stick together. Judgement can be so dangerous for the ” judger” as well as the judged.

      *climbs down from high horse!*

  6. Hmm, my main objection to the disdain meted out to mummy blogs is the inference that the domestic sphere is not real life. Who says so? The domestic sphere, overwhelmingly populated by women, IS real life and the unpaid labour that women carry out in this sphere keeps the economy running. If we all sat down – or, even better, went to bed for a bit – we would watch the country grind to a halt. It is time that the domestic sphere was recognised and valued for what it is by everyone. One further point: to the feminists (both mothers and child free) who join in with the disdain: do you not operate your own domestic sphere? And, if you do, why do you not value the unpaid labour you carry out as much as your professional life? Surely, by disdaining mommy blogs you are playing into the patriarchal norms that are set and managed by men, especially the division between the private (female, not important) and public (male and very important) tenet.

    1. To be honest (and to my shame), I used to do this before I had children (obviously I still had to cook and clean before then, but I’ve always done the bare minimum – or possibly less!). My fear was that if you bigged up “women’s work”, you reinforced the idea that women should be the only ones to do it. And I think there are right-wing columnists and politicians who are full of praise for all the unpaid work women do and go on and on about “valuing” it, without ever suggesting ways to change an economic system which does not reward caring in financial terms. I totally agree with what you’re saying now. It pisses me off that whenever the pay gap is discussed, loads of commentators (usually men) come out with “it’s all because women have babies then don’t work”. It’s not even true, but how could raising children possibly be considered not working?

  7. Well said, I’ll give you my own rating if you like somewhere in my top3. Anyway I’m off to unload the washing machine cos I just love it so much and then I might write a blogpost about it.

    1. Excellent! Will you join me on setting up an offshoot of Britmums/Netmums/Mumsnet called Mumsbritnet? If we found it, we can rig it to be the most popular people 4eva.

  8. I recently wrote a similar post about mummy blogger haters and have come to the conclusion that hating mummy blogs says more about the reader than the blog. I don’t mind the term mummy blogger – I don’t think it is a negative term even if some people are trying to make it that way. I think everyone should blog about their world and what they know. It’s not my bad that what I know right now is being a full-time mum. That’s life, and it’s honest. I didn’t blog when I was childless and working because I didn’t feel I had something to say. Now, I do. So what? If you don’t like it, don’t read but don’t assume I write because I want to impose my middle-class life on to you. And don’t assume I’m stupid for writing about issues that might not seem important to you. Haters can piss off.

    1. Well said! It really is amazing how irritated some people get by something which doesn’t have to intrude in their lives. When I was younger, I did have issues with parenting being made into a “woman’s issue” and felt this restricted women’s identities. Now of course I think being told that your own experiences shouldn’t be expressed is pretty damn restrictive!

  9. I never knew I was a feminist before I started blogging. Cracking post. Will follow from now on, even if you do write about the dishwasher breaking down, or your latest whizzo recipe for egg-free chocolate cake. Ta for making me smile at the end of a very crappy day.

  10. It’s quite possible that I’m a mummy blogger. Then again I’m not actually a mummy. Well I am but I’m not. I’m twenty seven in April. I’ve been blogging since I was twenty one. I’m a foster mummy to a thirteen year old. Do the maths lol.

    1. I thought I’d blog for about a week then stop. It’s really addictive! According to my maths you’ve been at it for six years, though – am seriously impressed! How long have you been fostering for (if that isn’t an intrusive question)?

  11. I love this post. Personally, I don’t mind the phrase “mummy blogger.” I blog about all sorts of things, not just about being a mum, but to a large extent being a mum has coloured how I see things (so influences posts one way or another). Perhaps, it’s more important how and why that label is used.

    I also feel it’s a bit unfeminist to be dismissive of “typical” female topics, a trend that irritated me greatly when I was at a very feminist college (whatever that term may mean). There are lots of women “lost” to history not because they weren’t working or producing works of art, but because their efforts were not recognised by the male canon. I can’t but help think of all those women embroidering the Bayeaux tapestry.

    I can feel myself about to go off at a tangent (what is feminism, are there different types of feminist, post-feminism v militant feminism? etc etc). Personally, I think feminism, by definition, should encompass all areas of women’s experience, and be truly inclusive. So, if you’re a woman, blog about what interests you,as a woman or as whatever else you may be. Railing against your sisters doesn’t make you a feminist.

  12. In typical ‘mummy’ fashion I am far too tired to write the lengthy reply that your brilliant post requires!! (Been up since 5am with the little one, that’s 5am every morning, not a one off!)

    You hit the nail on head. I am still very new to this world and learning as I go. It surprised me a lot. You have to try hard to get noticed and put the time in! Its like starting a new school and wanting to be in the cool gang. However, I soon realised that I was never in the cool gang at school and since then I have just cracked on, writing about my little lad and being me. I have enjoyed the whole scene much more since then.

    I am currently 1,253 in the Tots 100 ranking so watch your back! I am hot on your heels!

    Thanks for posting.

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