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56 responses to “In defence of mummy blogging”

  1. Helen

    *Stands*
    *Applauds*
    *Whistles*
    *Stamps*
    This, all of it.

  2. mindy

    Nowhere has this been more evident than in the media’s unrelenting criticism of the Prime Minister for meeting on several occasions with so-called ‘mummy bloggers’ at both the Lodge and at Rooty Hill RSL

    I suspect there is more than a little envy here too, who do these women think they are getting all this attention for their blogs when serious journalists want to be able to ask endless questions about leadershit.

  3. Fran Barlow

    Well I don’t know that ‘mummy blogging’ is inherently radical, but I certainly commend you for staying engaged and working through issues from your perspective as a mother with others travelling along similar pathways.

    It’s always uplifting when those who are marginalised find their voice and raise it thoughtfully, linking their personal experience with important concerns in public policy or public discourse. To find the time to do that while nurturing a child so young is especially commendable, and a fine example to your daughter, which, doubtless, she will come to value greatly when she is able to work through some of the issues you raise above.

    Well done … and best wishes …

  4. Liz

    Great post, Cristy. I found it very instructive when looking at edenland’s blog, how many people told her she was being used by the PM. Like she was far too silly and starstruck to make her own decisions about such things.

  5. Casey

    Taking time out of the workforce can also force us to re-examine our relationship to the economy and to the government – on whose services we find ourselves far more dependent. This raises highly political public policy issues around the structure of taxation; the regulation and funding of health care, childcare and education; and a whole range of planning issues as we find ourselves spending a lot more time on the ground in our neighbourhoods and notice the physical landscape in entirely new ways.

    I remember JK Rowling talking about life as a single mum on the pension and how that gave her an insight, I would say a class-related insight, that as a middle class person, she would not have perhaps come to know experientially. This is an insight that she cannot now forget. All of a sudden priorities change, a new world opens up. Thanks Christy for coming back.

  6. Sam

    when you are pushing a stroller around your neighbourhood or the city

    You got one of them jogging strollers?

  7. Casey

    * I mean Cristy not Christy!!! A thousand pardons!

  8. Maria Delaney

    Spot on Cristy! I had the same experience of online community when my kids were babies. Nothing like motherhood to politicise women, and their experience and insights deserve greater respect. These days I do gender education work with teachers, young women and parents. I wonder if you’d be interested in writing something similar for a journal I put together? http://www.awe.asn.au/drupal/content/redress If so, please contact me at [email protected] My new site is http://www.teachjustice.com.au Cheers, Maria

  9. j_p_z

    Hey, congrats, Cristy, and welcome back! You’ve been sorely missed.

    I’ll be perfectly honest with ya… on an intellectual or analytical plane, I think some of the things you’ve said above are very true… and a good many others, I think, could do with a great deal more scrutiny and questioning. Don’t know that they’re “wrong” strictly speaking (human affairs are not like math) but they strike a note with me of having taken one’s eye off the ball.

    We’ll see where this discussion thread leads. Perhaps I’ll revisit if it gets contentious, but I’ll be bored (if mildly gratified) if it turns into an amen corner.

    Meantime though, so good to see you here again!

    Yeah we tease her a lot
    Cuz we got her on the spot,
    Welcome back.

  10. Golly Gosh

    Wow. Beautifully written and powerfully said, Cristy. This article should be on the opinion page of The Age or SMH. May your God bless you (or Gaia if you don’t have one) 🙂

  11. Peter Murphy

    Well written, well said, well stated.

    No person with a good blog needs to be justified.

  12. j_p_z

    I maintain that
    Chaos is the future, and
    Beyond it is freedom!
    Confusion is next,
    And next after that
    Is the truth!
    You got to cultivate-a
    What you need to need,
    Sonic truth!
    — Thurston Moore/Sonic Youth, “Confusion Is Sex”

    Sometimes very elegant statements lead to the opposite of what they think they imply. Granted this is an idiosyncratic opinion, but in my view the greatest book of political philosophy written in the past 50-odd years is Wendell Berry’s “Home Economics: Fourteen Essays” which I believe, upon examination and contemplation, takes his very sturdy principles and leads to a place which is more or less the opposite of what his own personal sentiments were. Such is the power of thought. Those are interesting processes to observe. I can only imagine that motherhood is even MORE complex. And should be.

  13. Golly Gosh

    On the breastfeeding issue, one of many that you raise, I’m shocked and a little depressed by how some people react badly when they witness it. This is a sick part of our culture and I would really like to know what is going on in the heads of these people. Personally, I never feel more fully human and at peace with the world than when I see a breastfeeding mum, no matter where she is.

  14. Deborah

    Great post, Cristy!

    I’ve become fascinated by the radical discussions that I’ve been party to in craft groups, and book groups, and it seems in any place where women gather, where they are free to talk out loud without anyone supervising what they say, and policing it for the patriarchy.

    And the personal *is* political.

  15. Casey

    We’ll see where this discussion thread leads. Perhaps I’ll revisit if it gets contentious, but I’ll be bored (if mildly gratified) if it turns into an amen corner.

    Perhaps you will revisit if it gets contentious eh? Patronising porkchop. Do you have something actually disagree with here? Something to say of substance? Or are you trying to induce nausea in people cause you are bored?

    Don’t worry, don’t worry Mods. I’m moderating myself immediately. But COME ON, I put it to you that even the International Space Station is picking up this condescension. Why, it’s so fracking bright you might mistake it for the Northern Lights if you’re not careful.

  16. Liz

    Took the words out of my mouth, Casey. It’sike he’s patting a little girl on the head.

  17. Cristy

    Thank you all. What a lovely response.

    Casey, no stress about calling me Christy. Everyone does it and I really don’t care.

  18. pablo

    “…that mothering is a highly private act..” but I wish it weren’t and sometimes it need not be. One of my delights is to make eye contact with toddlers, pull faces etcetera and enjoy the reciprocation. But too often your communion is not appreciated by the mum or at least there is an element of suspicion about this man. Understandable I suppose in this age of vetting strangers. Babies don’t buy it in their innocence.
    Go with the flow Cristy

  19. David Irving (no relation)

    Deborah beat me to it, but yes, the personal is political.

    The more things change, etc. We (my ex-missus and I) were aware of the problems mothers face nearly 40 years ago. The birth of our first child radicalised us (heavy-handed and unnecessary intervention), so the second was a home birth in Bendigo. The third and last was intended to be natural (although in a hospital), but ended up having to be caesarian.

    The “mummy bloggers” are being patronised in much the same way as the hippies who wanted natural childbirth 40-odd years ago were.

  20. Angela

    Thanks to Blue Milk for directing me to this.

    Cristy, you have taken a stroll through my mind and written it ALL down.

    A lovely challenge, I think, is telling these mothers that they are in fact political and radical. Counter-intuitive for many educated, middle-class at times, but the truth. As a living breathing member of that class, perhaps I’ve found my next self-indulgent project ;-).

    Look forward to reading more of your writing.

  21. Cristy

    Which flow Pablo? I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

  22. Cristy

    Great historical context David. Thank you. This doesn’t surprise me at all.

  23. indigo

    Great post. From a dad’s perspective, I had the inverse experience after the birth of our second child in 2011. I tried in vain to take the parental leave and annual leave that I was legally entitled to and no-one in my organization could take it seriously. The emails kept flowing, prefaced always with variations on “I know you’re on leave with a new baby, but…”. Parenthood, or fatherhood, was clearly an option secondary to my real life of work.

  24. Mark Bahnisch

    Good piece, Cristy. Great to see you back here blogging 🙂

  25. akn

    Cristy, I was sooo totally inspired by your article that I went looking for mummy bloggers to see what I had been missing out on and I found just heaps but, y’know, none of Aboriginal heritage from SA, or the NT or even from NSW; and none from Manus Island or Nauru; none that could be readily identified as being Chinese mommy bloggers working as outworkers in the garment industry or Timorese cleaners in the public hospitals.

    Do you think there might be a reason for this?

    I didn’t come across the hostile attitude to mommy bloggers until recently here on LP when I discovered that many, ahem, reptiles of the media, hold them in contempt despite the PM actually talking to them at a meeting. Wow. Do you reckon those mommy bloggers who actually got to speak to the PM raised issues to do with the mental health of children in detention centres? do you?

    God I hope so.

  26. Cristy

    Wow akn, you conducted and thorough and comprehensive review of all the blogs written by mothers in the last few hours? Well done. A truly impressive achievement.

    In the face of such a thorough and damning investigation I can only throw up my hands in defeat. We clearly don’t deserve to participate in public discourse after-all. Now I see the light.

  27. Golly Gosh

    Christy, akn pulled the same stunt on Kim’s Julia Gillard thread.

    Women are supposed to shut up and sit at the feet of akn and soak up the pure genius of each inspired utterance. In real life akn might be a sad and lonely figure whose life has amounted to nothing but he is convinced that he is God’s gift to womanhood.

  28. Margaret Clark

    Great piece CC. Looking forward to many many more

  29. Liz

    Yes, akn’s area of expertise seems to be telling women what they should be doing. Strange, I don’t see him applying the same rigour to men. Strange, isn’t it.

  30. Pavlov's Cat

    Come on, Cristy, you know that women aren’t allowed to say anything until they have ticked all the other correct-line boxes in the universe first.

  31. Andrea Mann

    Excellent summary of how feminism and motherhood intersect, it really resonates with my experience as well, thank you. The patronizing tone taken by some of your commenters may be rude, even cruel, but they only further your argument in their transparent attempts to trumpet their own intelligence. You communicate an important message, which will maintain its relevance for as long as female experiences continue to be marginalized.

  32. j_p_z

    Casey — not being patronizing or condescending in the least. I wasn’t aware that mummy blogging was a major genre, but I think it’s a fantastic idea, and an important one (long side discussion about Wendell Berry avoided). That said, the actual details of what sort of ideas are put forward on them are subject to analysis, as any ideas are. You’re the one being condescending by implying that feminist thought is not robust enough to defend itself against teh big bad patriarchy or whatever. Pfft. Don’t be silly. These ideas are real, they are out in the world, they have influence, and some of us think they are mistaken in important ways. That’s just discourse.

    But I’m going to shut up now because I don’t want to turn this thread into arguing about me. If an argument arises that I can join in without breaking the furniture, fine, but if not, not.

    This is Cristy’s thread, so she’ll take it where she likes.

    And there was much rejoicing.

  33. tigtog

    If you want to have a side discussion about feminist thought that isn’t directly on topic for this or any other thread, jpz – that is what the Overflow threads are for.

  34. j_p_z

    With respect, tigtog, feminist thought informs the entire substance of the post and the thread, so of course it’s all relevant.

    But like I say, I’m not going to begin a complicated critique on my own terms (that’s what “get your own blog!” is for, right?); if Cristy develops a particular strain of thought that I have a line in on, I’ll engage it, but if not, I’m content for the thing to go where it wants to.

    We’ll see how much interest there is, in this or that. And if nobody wants to talk about the things I think are worth talking about, well that’s the breaks, right?

  35. Robbo

    From the perspective of a new dad of a nearly one year old, I hope this post is the first of many. What you describe of when you first became a parent, sounds very similar to what my wife has experienced over the last eleven months. It’s been a huge eye opener for both of us.

  36. tigtog

    There’s a great many feminist specifics mentioned in the post and on this thread, correct. You, however, appear to be disapprobating “feminist thought” rather more generally (do you really perceive only one “thought” rather than many “thoughts”?). Engage with on-topic specifics as you wish, but if you want to discuss off-topic generalities then that discussion belongs on the Overflow thread.

    e.t.a further responses to me arguing this point will not be published on this thread

  37. Pavlov's Cat

    I would argue that ‘mummy blogging’ is actually quite a radical act, through which women of my generation are claiming a share of the public sphere and demanding recognition for the work that we perform and the relevance of our experiences to public policy.

    Cristy, you seem among many other things to be making a valiant attempt to reclaim the phrase ‘mummy blogging’ as a positive and serious one, but at that linguistic level, if at no other, I don’t like your chances. Whatever its genesis, it’s now mainly used as an insult by crude life forms like Graham Richardson and it’s probably going to stay that way.

    It also tells you what the people who use this expression as an insult really think about children. And when I first started reading blogs in 2004 it struck me at the time that the people who used it as an insult were mostly the ones who were obsessed with visitor and comment stats, and were severely bent out of shape that the so-called mummy blogs were getting a lot more traffic than their own.

    But this point you make at the end of the post goes to the heart of what I think many of us have been doing in the blogosphere: making claims to public space for other forms of public discourse apart from the pale, untrained, non-investigative and openly partisan imitations of a distant past ideal of journalism that is the best a lot of bloggers can manage — and making those claims partly because we know that daily life should determine public policy and not the other way around.

  38. Casey

    Cristy, you seem among many other things to be making a valiant attempt to reclaim the phrase ‘mummy blogging’ as a positive and serious one, but at that linguistic level, if at no other, I don’t like your chances.

    What do you think of ‘wog’ and the ‘n’ word and how those reclamations worked? I think what happened there was that their meaning became a shifting ones, unstable, positive and negative, depending on how and who used them. It may well work with the term ‘mummy blogger’ as well. Of course, it took a female leader to recognise the public space these bloggers had claimed. Sometimes, by virtue of the disparagement that surrounds them (and it certainly did in light of the attention Julia Gillard gave them), I think we can see that certain marginalised groups are clearly breaking into the discursive space, discomforting patriarchs like Richardson and provoking spontaneous lectures from AKN, not to mention the spectactular show of Northern Lights from America last night. Pretty.

  39. Kirsten McCulloch

    “For many women of my generation, motherhood is a time when we are confronted with the full force of patriarchy and the seemingly insurmountable challenge of maintaining equality in our relationships, let alone within society, after becoming mothers”

    Great article, and I think this point is so valuable. It’s very easy as a non-parent to assume that equality is possible and that people making their personal choices to stay at home/ work part time, use carers leave etc is an individual issue, not a systemic one.

    Once you have children you may quickly discover that things are not that straight forward. But at that point, to be heard is not always easy.

  40. Cristy

    Pav, yes I thoroughly agree with your last point. I think the turf war between bloggers and the MSM is precisely over who has the right to take part in public discourse and whose experiences should inform public policy. I think it’s just interesting that women who write about their children have been singled out for particular condescension and mocking. To me this is indicative of both the status of children and the value placed on care work in our society.

    As for reclaiming the term. No. I loathe it. But it doesn’t appear to be going anyway. I’m quite comfortable in identifying as a mother, but it is not the limits of my identity, nor the defining characteristic of my thinking and writing. The pigeon-holing achieved by categorising some women as ‘mummy bloggers’ is just another way of dismissing the broader relevance of our views.

  41. Helen

    Great post. From a dad’s perspective, I had the inverse experience after the birth of our second child in 2011. I tried in vain to take the parental leave and annual leave that I was legally entitled to and no-one in my organization could take it seriously. The emails kept flowing, prefaced always with variations on “I know you’re on leave with a new baby, but…”. Parenthood, or fatherhood, was clearly an option secondary to my real life of work.

    Yes. Back in the days when I was a baby feminist, feminism (or gender politics) was, perhaps inevitably (we can’t do everything at once) concentrated on womens’ struggles to overcome exclusion from male spaces. The problems you encountered are the obverse face of the very same patriarchal structures (women are expected to do the caring, men are expected to be the Perfect Early C20th style Employee) which women encountered in education and work. Women have now broken down some (not all) of the barriers in work and education, but it didn’t happen all at once. There had to be many failed attempts. Sorry your workplace was one of the backward ones. I have seen some good progression in my own (and in another company which subcontracted to ours) which has given me more hope and optimism.

  42. BilB

    I’m reminded of that old line “how do hedgehogs have sex?”…very carefully.

    How do people have discourse with post pregnancy feminists? …..Extremely carefully!

    The entire procreation and parenting process IS very personal,… on the one hand, but nearly everyone does it on the other. I doubt, though, that mummyness is as off topic as you suggest. From the MSM point of view from the birth to preschool is a non commercial zone rather than a taboo zone, although there are many taboos in there. From a being there point of view it is a time that we in many ways try to rush through. Scraping nappies and clearing away the vomit is no fun at all. Being on the receiving end of the manipulative screams and tantrums makes one want to wind the clock forward. The beautiful moments are often far too brief, and are just that, moments in time that you really have to be there to appreciate. So much is lost in the rush that we really don’t fully appreciate the beauty of early parenting until we are looking back on it.

    So mummy blogging. I find parenting stories very interesting and they regularly come up in conversation with everyone I talk to. Tell me, though, have you spent any time following engineering blogs?

  43. j_p_z

    Cristy — I suppose the cultures we live in are very different in a lot of ways, but if I understand you correctly, I think you’re quite obviously right (even embarrassingly so) in demanding a fully normative status for children and mothers in all elements of society. Anything else strikes me as quite literally insane.

    I’m a staunch proponent of small children being loud and delightfully present in most areas of society: people need to be accustomed (it’s astonishing they aren’t) to the idea that children and mothers are a part of life. I get really annoyed, and vocally so, at people who get annoyed by the sight of mothers breastfeeding in public. Do the complainers not know how babies work? I throw expensive dinner parties in chic restaurants a couple times a year, and when a guest asks “Can I bring my toddler?” I say of course! If anyone complains we’ll tell them to get stuffed! Children are part of the world, and a vital part — they better just get used to it. Your kids are your FAMILY — in what universe would your family not be welcome?

    Casey:

    The man bent over his guitar,
    A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

    They said, You have a blue guitar:
    You do not play things as they are.

    The man replied, Things as they are
    Are changed upon the blue guitar.

    And they said then, Well play you must;
    A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

    A tune upon the blue guitar
    Of things EXACTLY as they are.

  44. Cristy

    BiLB no I have never read an engineering blog. But not do I dismiss their relevance or mock them, which was the point of my post. I don’t care whether any individual chooses to actually read personal blogs written by women.

  45. Loup

    From the MSM point of view from the birth to preschool is a non commercial zone rather than a taboo zone, although there are many taboos in there.

    Non-commercial? How do you figure, with the endless and incessant diet/fashion/sex ‘advice’ that usually culminates in something along the lines of ‘you are not doing enough to be acceptable’ that is juxtaposed, almost immediately, with what one should be buying in order to be a good mother (not parent, mother) and how the best mothers never ever spend a cent on themselves when they could be buying X for their child. While working out. And not eating anything remotely pleasurable because ‘you don’t want to become a frump’. And looking adoringly at the child instead of, y’know, the news or email or something like that. Yet not being so engrossed in motherhood that you forget to perform as a woman too.

    Motherhood is highly commercialised in the exact same way womanhood is; you are never enough, you must buy this to be better.

    The mainstream ‘culture’ has a vested interest in depoliticising the actual experience of motherhood, and in isolating the experiences down to ‘personal!’ over political. Because if it’s just personal, then yeah it makes sense for me to stay at home…until you start wondering why my feminised career choice was my choice, why it’s paid less than masculinised career choices requiring similar (or less!) training and education. Why his career paid so much more in spite of requiring far less training and education, for similar levels of ‘work’.

    And, apropos of your first comment, how many people become engineers? How many engineers are isolated from their peers by the expectations of society about how they will do that engineering work? How many engineers are harmed during the process of becoming engineers by the wider expectations around that process and the politicised system? How many engineers are simultaneously told that they are the most important part of society (since all societal problems can be laid at their feet) but also told their stories are unimportant since, y’know, even dogs become engineers, and their engineer did it so much harder with far less complaining?

  46. Cristy

    *Nor* do I (rather than not do I). Thanks autocorrect.

  47. Helen

    Engineers. So disrespected, so low in status, so marginalised. And they do it all for no pay.

    *Whips out tiny violin*

  48. Cristy

    I agree that Australian culture ought to get better at including and fully accepting children (and, by extension, parents). Fortunately for me, I currently live in Hanoi, where children (and, indeed, parents and the elderly) are included and accepted in all aspects of public life. The contrast is quite striking.

  49. paul burns

    Cristy @ 48,
    But they’re C..C…C…Communists!!!. [Turns purple, splutters and dies]

  50. Cristy

    Believe me. The market now reigns supreme here in Vietnam. Democracy not so much…

  51. BilB

    Yes, ….yes, Loup. Engineers are underappreciated, are undervalued, …and underpaid. And….we are not allowed to listen to violins, no matter how small, while we struggle at our burdenous workload.

    The worst moment in a mother’s life…

    Mother: Doctor what is it!
    Dr:I’m afraid that it is worse than I thought. Your son has…the knack!
    Mtr:The knack?
    Dr:The knack! It is a rare condition characterized by an extreme intuition about all things mechanical…and electrical,….and other ….social ineptitude.
    Mtr:Can he lead a normal life?
    Dr:No!…he will be an engineer!
    Mtr:Ohhh, Ahh..Noo..ohh..ohh(deep sobbing)
    Dr:There there, Mam. Don’t blame yourself!

    Cristy, you bring up a good point. Our European style culture is far too compartmentalised. Divided and manipulated.

  52. Cristy

    My father thinks he has it the worst by ending up with two lawyers.

  53. dylwah

    On ya Cristy. I’ve found plenty of aspects of staying home with the kids confronting and have a lot of respect for so many bloggers who discuss often very personal issues in their blogs, mummy blogs or Sharons, as Helen Razer puts it.
    http://justbaustralia.com.au/news/blogging-helen-and-sharons-excellent-adventure-15496/

    I enjoyed keeping track of an online poll for best mummy blog, held last year for a US analogue of mamamia. It lasted a month and for the first two weeks Blue Milk (who prob needs no intro here) was within striking distance of the top spot. Then some party partisan mommy blogs got out of second gear and blitzed the field. It was a fine illustration of the perils of online polls.

  54. Chris

    Cristy – great post. I’ve personally found quite a few mummy blogs useful. A few years ago I ended up with 50% shared care of a 2 year old, spending half of the week as a single guy, the other half a single parent. And not having many friends with children of similar age nor access to things like a mother’s group I’ve found them a great source for more information about every day life with young children and how parents handle various situations that crop up.

    I find the single parent mummy blogs tend to have a friendlier atmosphere than single parent forums which tend to get very polarised with either a strong anti-male or anti-female culture.

  55. BilB

    That is pretty well the perfect comment to this thread, Chris.

    For many people if not most, the primer for parenthood is the first child ante natal classes and followup connections in the years following, but for someone who enters the field unexpectedly and un prepared mummy blogs have to be a great resource. Even for the most experienced parents there can be so many things overlooked, and to be able to crowd source solutions is pretty powerful.

    Little things can make a huge difference. One thing that we discovered was that with much of the children’s clothing coming from low budget locations the labels are often made of prickly materials or they are cut with a hot wire which can leave the equivalent of a prickle sticking into the baby’s sensitive skin. So when a baby is crying persistently it is not necessarily for the usual things. A lot of parents pick this one up but not all figure it out, so mummy blogs can share around really valuable information.

  56. Maxabella

    There are a lot of really clever, really switched on ‘mummy bloggers’ out there. Those that dismiss them just because they talk about being a mum are the same people who probably dismiss the role of motherhood altogether. x