It’s a simple formula. Write something offensive and inflammatory, sit back, and watch the flames blaze out of control.
Publishing intentionally sensationalist pieces designed to generate enraged clicks is going to garner more attention than meaningful writing. So when Josi Denise (link intentionally not provided) decided her Mommy Blogging days were over, she fantasized that she would take down all Mommy blogs with her as she stormed off the Internet.
To accomplish this, she launched a vitriolic attack on Mommy bloggers, and drew massive undeserved attention. She claimed that her blog is disingenuous, artificially cheery, and just “sucks.” As part of a moral and creative epiphany, she wanted to write more substantial material. Frustrated with being taken advantage of by big brands and PR firms, she declared war against writing sponsored content.
Packaging your disgruntlement as a rancorous tirade towards everyone else, whose work and motivations you have no clue of, is more than just misdirected hatred. It’s socially and culturally irresponsible.
It’s women to women misogyny. And in the online world, where people act without consequence, it is especially brutal.
Some view “Mommy Blogger” as a pejorative term. Blogging in and of itself is a target in the professional writing world. Blogs are a self-regulated publishing platform, and as such, can be filled with questionable content and rife with cringe-inducing spelling and grammatical errors.
Mom-centric bloggers, who typically write about their homes and family, are often stereotyped as stay-at-home moms, with little or no writing skills, hoping to “make some extra money” blogging. This is a damaging cliché.
“Mommy Bloggers” write bestselling books. They have elite bylines, including The Washington Post and the New York Times. They publish gorgeously crafted essays designed to reach across the cyber channels to support other women in the often desperately lonely journey of raising a family.
Thankfully, the lines are being blurred here, in both directions. I may not write about diapers or breast-feeding, but my son is my highest priority. He is the subject of the majority of my blog posts, despite the reputation I have for salacious content.
Am I a Mommy Blogger?
And if I am, what of it?
Even if the stereotypical Mommy Blogger does exist, why do we need to judge her? How does telling all Mommy Bloggers that they “suck” help one woman on her journey to a different creative outlet? It doesn’t.
I have no experience in the world of writing sponsored content. Perhaps it is deplorable and inauthentic. Perhaps bloggers are being exploited by big brands and PR companies. It was especially important, then, that this blogger actually communicate her message, without alienating the very audience she was hoping to enlighten.
If there is a seamy underbelly to the Mommy Blogging world, Josi Denise could have called out the exploiters without being destructive and regressive in her writing. But she knew that it would drive anger-based traffic, and that was more important to her than contributing to the quality and diversity of women’s voices online.
She chose to feed the misogynist media climate and advance herself on the backs of women writers everywhere.
The compulsion for women to tear one another down is deeply imbedded in the female consciousness. Intentionally and unintentionally, we collude with sexism – sometimes for personal gain, often, in response to feeling oppressed by a sexist society. However, the impulse to attack other women in response to feeling oppressed is a symptom of that same oppression.
We lash out at each other, instead of at the real issue.
Josi Denise is protected by her First Amendment rights. Like everyone else, she is allowed to publish what she pleases. That does not mean that these tirades are innocuous. We have a responsibility to acknowledge what hundreds of studies have shown – that media content directly impacts people; how they feel about themselves, and in turn, how they treat each other. Even if the writer does not have bad intentions, misogynist tropes in media are profoundly damaging to all women.
We are battling a world in which women are bombarded with false notions of physical perfection and hypersexuality. We are ravaged by sexual assault and domestic abuse. Even in 2016, women experience gender pay gap. Women writers are struggling to be heard in a male-dominated industry.
If we are going to move the needle on how we are treated, if we are going to create change of any kind, we have to join together. Can you imagine how much women could accomplish if weren’t preoccupied with publicly and privately maligning one another? If we stopped attempting to annihilate other women online, and in real life? If we focused our energies on building one another up and joining forces.?
Part of me is worried that by writing this, I am feeding the machine. I purposely refrained from saying disparaging things about this woman and her blog. That rhetoric would be dangerous and counterproductive. I would be contributing to the very agency I am battling. Because she, too, is a victim of our culture, which preaches and practices hatred against women.
She’s already received coverage on bigger sites. She finally got the widespread acclaim she sought, which eluded her in all her years of mommy blogging. But her big break came at a price – a price all women are paying.
Going forward, how can we – men, women, writers or readers – change this conversation from the inside without harming this, or future, generations of women?
Talk to me.
I’m really, REALLY, REALLY listening.