In her article “The radical act of ‘mommy blogging’: redefining motherhood through the blogosphere”, Lori Kido Lopez tackles the interesting subject of females’ interactions with the blogosphere, particularly focusing on blogs written by women that have their personal lives as the subject, rather than blogs that focus on news, technology, politics or other subjects.
Kido, who is an Assistant Professor in Media and Cultural Studies at University of Wisconsin, published the article in the scholarly journal New Media and Society in 2009.
Her article, as the title suggests, looks at the world of ‘mommy blogging’, where the bloggers in question focus heavily – but not exclusively, as Lopez goes on to point out – on the blogger’s daily activities, and primarily discusses the blogger’s children. These blogs have been dubbed ‘mommy blogs’ by other bloggers, and the title is often used by the bloggers themselves. However, this genre of blogging, and the title, is seen as contentious by some female bloggers, who worry that the act of mommy blogging by female bloggers only serves to solidify the gender divide between women and men. Lopez discusses the traditional gendered roles of public/private spheres of life, where men generally dominate the public sphere – which deals with the working world, politics, economics and the law – and women are supposed to stay in the private realm, the realm of the home. This divide appears to stay somewhat true in the context of blogging, based on research that Lopez references: men primarily create “filter blogs” or “knowledge logs”, where the blogs either aggregate new on politics and information, or are technology focused, whereas women are more likely to create “journal-type blogs” (Lopez 735). This tendency has caused a rift in the population of women bloggers, where the women who do write blogs that delve into the public sphere have criticized the women whose blog content is more personal. Lopez’s article gets its title from a statement made by one ‘mommy blogger’ who felt attacked by comments made during the first BlogHer conference (a conference focused on women’s roles in the blogosphere), where an attendant made a comment that if women “stopped blogging about themselves they could change the world” (Lopez 730). The blogger’s response to this was that, in fact, mommy blogging was a radical act.
Lopez’s thesis and supporting arguments in this article upholds that blogger’s statement. She believes that mommy blogging is a radical act. This argument rests on several points. She argues that in blogging about the daily, very normal struggles of motherhood, mommy bloggers present an alternate narrative to the clean, sterilized narrative about motherhood that we find in popular media, where the mother is a perfect figure who “has to devote her entire physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual being, 24/7, to her children” (Lopez 731). This narrative about motherhood is daunting and unattainable. By blogging about their daily lives, their interactions with their children and their problems and frustrations that derive from these interactions, mommy bloggers provide relief from the media’s narrative about their lives and what they should and shouldn’t be. Hand in hand with this argument is Lopez’s discussion of ‘mommy bloggers’ as a network of women in similar circumstances, providing a strong community and a support system. If mommy blogs are radical for their portrayal of motherhood as imperfect, then they are also radical because they provide a means of discussion between women about the role of motherhood, in the home and in society. They not only allow the non-mothering public to see what motherhood really is, but they validate women in the same position, and give them strength and perhaps the confidence to make their own voices heard in the blogosphere. This, Lopez argues, is why ‘mommy blogging’ is a radical act.
One thing Lopez admits to in her article is that while the discussions that arise through mommy blogging may be powerful to the women who participate in them, it’s a fairly homogenized population that takes part in it, or at least the population that she is discussing. The women participating in the discussions, at least presently, are mostly Caucasian, middle-class and heterosexual. She acknowledges the need for a wider study of this phenomenon, which would certainly be interesting, if only to make this act of different motherhood even more diverse.
Lopez, Lori Kido. "The radical act of ‘mommy blogging’: redefining motherhood through the blogosphere." New Media and Society 11.5 (2009): 729-747.