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August 04, 2009

Mom 2.0: Meet the Mommyblogger: An Overview of My Essay in Mothering and Blogging: The Radical Act of the MommyBlog

My essay "Mom 2.0: Meet the Mommyblogger" appears in Mothering and Blogging: The Radical Act of the MommyBlog, edited by May Friedman and Shana L. Calixte (Toronto: The Association for Research on Mothering/Demeter Press, May 2009). Here's a brief excerpt which highlights some of the key points raised in my essay.

MotheringandBloggingLg "The online world of mothers is being transformed by marketers with their own specific agendas. These marketers—who are eager to tap into the $1.7 trillion market that mothers represent—have the budgets to ensure that they are able to tap into the conversations of mothers, wherever those conversations happen to be taking place online. Web 2.0 sites are eager to find ways to generate revenue from their operations and marketers are the source of that revenue, so their needs will often eclipse the needs of mothers in online communities....

"Moms have always been generous about sharing their wisdom and ideas with other mothers, but now a third party is privy to those conversations. In the world of Web 2.0, there's a third party sitting (or eavesdropping) at the table—a marketer who is taking notes and looking for ways to use mothers' ideas to sell products back to mothers. More often than not, moms are not being compensated for these intellectual property contributions in any meaningful way. Rather than paying cash -- the traditional currency of business -- marketers and the mega-corporations that they front for offer fleeting fame and freebies. On a per-hour basis, these 'pay rates' can amount to lower rates of compensation than the rates paid to workers in third-world sweat shops --working conditions these mega-corporations to go great lengths to distance themselves from.

"Horizontal violence* between mothers online is the result of the lack of respect shown to mothers by other online users. This type of hostile activity is at its rawest in the blogging community ("the wild west") as compared to in the highly moderated (and much less authentic) world of social networking sites aimed at mothers. When horizontal violence does occur on social networking sites, the social networking tools that are built into the site architecture can be used with merciless effectiveness (at least until a site moderator steps in). Rumors and misinformation can be forwarded to an entire network of contact and on-site and off-site site a mouse click. Deleting someone from a list of friends can be accomplished with equal ease (and, in many cases, that former 'friend' won't even realize that they've been de-friended).

Perhaps the most important conclusion that web-savvy mothers must keep in mind is that horizontal violence will become less of a problem when the status of mothers and women is improved both online and in the real world. Until this happens, it's important for mothers to acknowledge its existence and to work towards collective solutions. In "Horizontal Violence in the Workplace," Carolyn Hastie recommends a series of strategies that appear to be just as practical and relevant to the world of mothers: recognizing and acknowledging that horizontal violence occurs between mothers and using the term 'horizontal violence' to name the problem; raising awareness of this issue and addressing the cultural issues that allow horizontal violence to continue to be a problem between mothers and women; speaking out against instances of horizontal violence whenever they occur; addressing individual attitudes and behaviors; and practicing self-nurturing and self-care so that each woman ins able to 'do the things that help [her] to be healthy and happy in all aspects of [her] human-ness.' Once she applies that age-old common sense to dealing with a computer-age online problem, Mom 2.0 will have more to give her Web 2.0 girlfriends. And it's a 100% product-free solution to boot."

View the full Table of Contents for the book.

*Note: The term horizontal violence is used when members of groups with low status display hostile behaviors toward their fellow group members as opposed to lashing out at their oppressors.

Related:

Mom-101: The Year that Shame Died: Mom-101 writes: "Much to my surprise however, what turned out to be the problem at BlogHer was not how the marketers acted, but how so many bloggers acted. Without pulling punches, I will say it was shameful...I am in no way saying that popular bloggers don't like free stuff or that you should be ashamed for wanting some free dish soap. I publish a site that gives away products daily and I love how happy it makes people. What I'm saying that blogging 'success' shouldn't be defined by the amount of stuff you get. It's about what you put out, not what you take in."

Mom-101: Blog With Integrity: We're Taking Our Community Back: Mom-101 writes: "We've put together Blog with Integrity, a voluntary pledge, complete with blog badge, for any and all bloggers (not just parents) who want a way to show their readers, marketers, the PR community, and certainly the press, that we are committed to integrity, responsibility and disclosure, and that a few bad apples do not speak for all of us. Not even close."

Mom-101: Yep, I'm a Mother. Got a Problem With That?: Mom-101 describes the disrespect that mothers have been receiving from certain members of the marketing community post-BlogHer'09.

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Wow Ann, thanks so much for the shout-outs. Look forward to reading your own take on these things.

You're very welcome. I've been reading your comments with great interest over the past week. Can't keep up with all your ideas and posts.

PS - Shouldn't you be Mom-401 by now? :-)

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