Mommy Bloggers and Douchebags

My name is Mary Tyler Mom and I am a mommy blogger.

It’s true.  I am a mom and I blog.  It stands to reason that I am, therefore, a mommy blogger.  Except many folks do not think that is a good thing.  Many, many folks think being a mommy blogger is a bad thing, in fact.  And full disclosure, more than a few mommy bloggers hate the term and probably hate me for using it.

Par for the course.  I tick people off without even trying.  It is a special talent to tick people off when you’re not even trying.  People either love me or hate me for that.  They stand around shaking their heads and saying, “That, Mary Tyler Mom!  Just look at the nonsense she’s gotten herself into now.”  Or, conversely, “That Mary Tyler Mom.  What a self-righteous bitch.”  I know where I stand, and it’s all good.  And full disclosure, it even happens within my own family, except they don’t call me Mary Tyler Mom.  Ahem . . .

I took a completely unscientific poll on my Facebook page last night, asking my readers what comes to mind with the term “mommy blogger.”  Here is a sampling of the negative connotations of the term offered by my readers.  Of my mommy blog.  Hold on, folks, this gets a little rough:

  • overdone
  • tired
  • ranting
  • self-absorbed
  • irritating
  • eye roll, please
  • depressing
  • messy
  • unnecessary
  • annoying/annoyed
  • marginalized
  • wannabe
  • angry
  • trouble
  • ick/ugh/blech
  • dumpy
  • bored/boring
  • nag
  • no real sense of the world
  • vulgar
  • pretentious
  • disconnected

Honestly, I am a bit confused as to why “mommy blogger” has become such a divisive term.  I mean, I get it, “mommy” is a diminutive word and certainly the work of moms is devalued in our culture, as is parenting in general.  What I don’t get is why we moms not only allow that to continue, but buy into it hook, line, and sinker.  Think about it.  Is there anything MORE POWERFUL than a mom?  We are the bomb, my friends, and need to embrace that.  To diminish something so central to being a woman, motherhood, is nothing more that veiled misogyny.

Now that I’m up on my high horse (“Hello, down there!” she typed, waving frantically), I want to make another argument that proves my point.  Think about some of the worst things you can call a man.  Sissy, bitch and douchebag come to mind, don’t they?  Those are all things associated with being a woman, right?  “You run like a girl/You throw like a girl/You (insert verb of your choice here) like a girl.”  These are taunts our boys hear frequently, some probably from the adults who surround them.  That shit ain’t cool.

And let’s talk about douchebag for a moment, shall we?  I am having a fond flashback to a Facebook argument I got caught up in a few months ago.  Basically, I made the point, to a virtual room full of men, that I refused to use that word as an insult, as who it was truly insulting was women.  A literal douchebag is a device most commonly associated with rinsing out and cleaning the vagina.  THE VAGINA, my friends.  And please, don’t even get me started on the premise that our vaginas are dirty and require cleansing in the first place.  That is a whole ‘nother post.

I don’t choose to insult the men in my life by referring to them as a device used to clean out a vagina, as if anything associated with the vagina would be the worst possible thing imaginable you could call a man.  Nope.  I’m not gonna do it.  Especially when asshole works so well and is positively democratic.

The point, my friends, is straight out of one of my women’s studies courses from 1990.  Feminism 101, if you will, and why yes, I am a feminist.  Our culture universally and systematically devalues the contributions women make.  I could go on a litany of ways in which women are devalued and persecuted, but I don’t feel like it.  Instead, I will make one more point that I was first introduced to as a young woman of 20.

The things that are most closely associated with womanhood, and mind you, I do not mean to start a gender war here, as I know not all women are the same, but those things most closely associated with womanhood — empathy, caring, nurturing, compassion, understanding, connection — these are the things that are devalued in our culture.  The helping professions for one, capitalize on these traits.  I am trained as a clinical social worker.  I figured that I was already all of those things and people seemed to seek me out for those things, so I may as well make a profession of it.  And I did.  Just didn’t make any scratch.  Emotions are seen as weak; vulnerability is not an asset, it is a detriment in many cases.

My wish is that mommy bloggers would turn that mother out.  Re-claim the term “mommy blogger” as an asset — a powerful attribute that suggests great strength.  As women, we have sought to do this with the term “bitch,” right?  It is common now to use that as a term of respect.  Do the same for mom, mommy, mother.  Own your power, whatever that may be.  Be proud of who you are in the world and what you contribute.

Just as I shared a list of negative connotations for mommy blogger, let me share a list of the positive connotations that both surprised and gave me hope:

  • honest
  • connection
  • humorous/funny/hilarious/hi-fucking-larious
  • passionate
  • sassy
  • informative
  • enlightening
  • intelligent/smart/brilliant
  • comrade
  • wise
  • lucky
  • ambitious
  • helpful
  • clever
  • articulate
  • truth tellers
  • inspirational
  • organized
  • confident
  • courageous
  • proud
  • free
  • invested
  • supportive
  • hard worker
  • fan-freaking-tastic
  • daring
  • thinkers
  • writers
  • badassmotherfuckers

See now?  I recognize myself much more in this second list, as well as the cadre of mommy bloggers I read.  We are, so many of us, badassmotherfuckers.  We are courageous, and daring, and inspirational and honest and ambitious, and writers and thinkers.  We are all those things.

So, yeah, my name is Mary Tyler Mom and I am a badassmotherfucking mommy blogger.  What of it?

Oh, and for the love of God, if you like what I write, throw me a bone and vote for me to be a recognized Top 25 Mommy Blogger with Circle of Moms.  

My Gwynnie Epiphany

Gwyneth Paltrow and I have a history together on this here Internet. Basically, I’m not a fan, as I’ve detailed publicly on two very well-received occasions. Her acting is inoffensive, often pleasant.  It’s the other stuff — the cookbooks and GOOP and her singing and hanging with Beyonce and Jay-Z that get to me.  If she stuck to the acting, she would get a great big whatever from me. But she doesn’t stick to the acting, does she?

Like me and most women I know, Gwynnie (what I would call her if we were BFFs) is multi-faceted.  I mean, of course she is.  She is married to a rock star and Steven Spielberg is her godfather.  Gal’s got an Oscar, an Emmy and a Golden Globe.  She’s got it going on, clearly.

So why does she annoy me so much?

The answer to that question is immaterial and inconsequential.  Who cares why she annoys me?  I’ve detailed the whys in my previous two Gwynnie posts, that honestly, I have benefited from.  They are funny and passionate and great writing and clearly struck a nerve with a lot of youse.  But truth be told, the things I said with my keyboard are things I would never have said to Gwyneth’s face.

That is cowardly.

I am a lot of things I am not so proud of, but I am not a coward.

The posts were published in February and May, 2011.  I have not dedicated a post to Gwynnie since then.  There’s a reason for that.  It doesn’t feel good.  While the moments of typing on the keyboard felt good, like a rant that just needed to come out, the mirroring of hate and intense dislike for Gwyneth that I saw in the comment threads they generated never felt good. Full disclosure, I was ashamed that my words resulted in other words of hate and dislike.  I was the catalyst of a lot of yuck and I didn’t like it.

In February of this year, I got a taste of Internet hate and it was bitter.  And scary.  A group of strangers targeted me on Facebook for something I had posted in complete innocence.  What I had posted was twisted and manipulated, then circulated on several other Facebook pages to demonstrate what a horrible person I was.  It didn’t feel good.  Not one bit.

That experience was sort of a wake up call for me about the power of the Internet and social media.  It’s all fun and games until you see your kid’s photo, his innocent face, sweet and vulnerable, splashed on a bunch of pages with hateful things attached to it.  Yeah, that was no fun at all.

That experience taught me what cyber-bullying was all about.  It only lasted a day, really, my being on the receiving end of some mean girls’ hate, and then like most things in social media — POOF — it was gone.  The mean girls had moved on and found another target.  But there I was, shaken and sad and not quite so innocent.  Hadn’t I done the same thing to Gwyneth?

Gwyneth ecard
e-card I created in February 2012.

And then there was the dream I had last week (cue swirly camera work here).

Gwyneth had invited me over to her home.  It was a NYC apartment, big, but not garish.  It was interesting, with lots of books and art (a lot like a fancier version of my own home).  I got there early and was left alone to explore.  After a while other people started arriving — 5, 10, 20, 30 people. Hey!  There was Chris Martin!  And, OMG, is that Gwynnie?  It was.  We were in the living room and her kids were getting ready for bed just down the hall.

I was in Gwyneth Paltrow’s home and she was holding a salon.  A salon, people.

Gwyneth was lounged on a sofa, listening intently, and contributing sometimes.  At one point, she asked me what I thought about a topic.  I gladly jumped in to the conversational fray.  It was about working mothers, so you know I had some thoughts to share.  

A few minutes later, I got up to stretch my legs and ran into Chris Martin.  I started gushing about how one of his songs — I was embarrassed to realize I don’t know the names to any of them — was something I would listen to over and over when I was sad about my daughter dying of cancer. He seemed moved.  I was dream mortified that I didn’t know the name of his work.

Then I walked into the kitchen, and there she was:  Gwyneth.  My Internet nemesis in the dream flesh.  Except in my dream, she was just a lady in her kitchen, not so evil, and looking kind of fabulous.  My brain was going a mile a minute.  I was scared out of my skivvies that she might have read my rants about her.  Should I bring it up?  Should I play dumb?  In the end, this is what I said:

MTM:  Hi, I kind of can’t believe I am in your home.  

GP:  Here you are.

MTM:  Well, people are probably always wanting something from you, and I am no different.  I want you to know I am very sorry and ashamed that I have written about you in my blog.  And I want to know if you would let me tape you saying, “What’s your Good Thing?” for my charity.  

Cut to black when I woke up.  

Wow.  You know you are grappling with Catholic guilt when you dream about guilt.

So I think my Gwynnie days are over.  Truth is, she will probably continue to annoy me, just as I annoy some of you.  And as much as I like to rant and rave about how she is so out of touch with the average working mom, Gwyneth and I probably have more in common then I am comfortable admitting.  Two privileged white girls living the dream.

Forgive me, Gwyneth.  Mea culpa.  Truly.  I am sorry to have targeted you with my snark.  I am sorry to have made fun of your lifestyle, your children’s names, your right to live your life the way you see fit.  That was wrong.  And mean.  And it won’t happen again.

Leap Year, Sex After Kids and Other Rare Phenomenon

Today is a phenomenon of time and space — Leap Year.  A day is conjured out of thin air and all agree to acknowledge it and accept that, sure, okay, today can happen.  We’ll agree to say it is February 29 instead of March 1.  Everybody good with that?  Okay!

This got me thinking about the idea of finding time and what happens with that time, passing time and where it goes.  And on that note, this whole process of accepting and acknowledging things that simply don’t make sense.  Deep thoughts for a tired, working mom, I know. 

Over on the Mary Tyler Mom facebook page, I decreed it WILD CARD WEDNESDAY.  That is blogger code for, “Damn.  I need another post to fulfill my contract and I am plum out of clever things to say.”  As always, my pals at facebook do not disappoint.  The offer was simple:  make a suggestion about what I should write and I will be committed to the most popular suggestion, with the stipulation that I can only use the lunch hour to write it.  Well, a bunch of moms got on the sex after kids bandwagon (more accurately, the lack of sex after kids bandwagon), but a strong second was this timely topic of Leap Year. 

Huh.

Leap Year and sex after kids.  Yes.  There’s something to that.  Both are rare, generally anti-climactic, and create a lot of cliche buzz.  YES!  So that’s the cheap shot, the easy score (pun intended), if you will.  Ha ha!  Sex after kids is as scarce as leftover beer at a frathouse party.  Another one is that my Mary Tyler Mom facebook page sees tons more action than Mary Tyler Dad (insert rim shot here).

More interesting, I think, is why that happens.  Why Leap Year?  Who decided that was the way our calendar would work?  And why does sex become more of a chore, an obligation, a holiday event after the little ones arrive?  The truth is that I don’t know.  I don’t know how or why Leap Year exists and how or why we all agree to create an extra day only to poke fun at it.  I also don’t know how or why sex after kids loses its luster.  Or how and why many couples with children (given my extremely unscientific facebook thread) stop having sex after kids.  Well, not stop having sex, but start having less frequent sex. 

Perhaps the common denominator is this human capacity to simply accept the things we do not understand or that do not make sense to us.  There is a shrug of the shoulders and a sort of disinterested, “Okay.”  I know I’m stretching here, and there is my aforementioned fatigue, but I think there is something to this theory of mine.  Time passes, dictums emerge (you see what I did there?) and before you know it we agree to add an extra day to our year and we agree to remember sex rather than engage in sex. 

We’re tired.  We’re stressed.  Our time is valuable and our curiosity is waning.  Just like our husband’s dictums.