Yes, You ARE A Mommyblogger. And That’s (More Than) OK.
A recent AdWeek article (hat tip: Mir) cites a study done by eMarketer that defined mommybloggers (for the purposes of defining ad verticals, that is) as “adult female Internet users with children under 18 in the household who write blogs about any subject at least monthly.” The total number of “mommybloggers” by this definition — now at about 3.7 million — is projected to grow to 4.4 million by 2014. This small(ish) increase in the number of mommybloggers is attributed to the rise of Twitter and Facebook, which are much easier to maintain than are blogs, but far more interesting is that while less women are likely to start blogging in the next few years, the study projects a 9% increase in blog readers over the next few years, which is good news for people who already have blogs.
The first response to this definition of “mommybloggers” is to be infuriated, naturally, that any other achievement of the woman is, once again, being overshadowed by her uterus. That is the textbook first wave feminist response to this classification and while I do not want to overlook or dismiss the problematic word choice above, I also don’t want people to throw out the metaphorical baby with the bathwater here (pun very much intended).
First, “mommyblogger” is an ad term, and it’s an ad term that benefits anyone to whom it is applied. You might not like that they chose to refer to it as “mommyblogger” instead of . . . “household CEO” or “controller of family budget” or some term that has less to do with one’s ability to produce babies, but the bottom line is that “mommyblogger” is a category that corresponds to a vertical that goes along with the person who does most of the routine household spending in America. This is a coveted advertising demographic, and it is one that you should want to be in, stupid name or otherwise. Secondly, though the study sited suggests that it’s only women with children, we know that there are many bloggers within the “mommyblogosphere” who don’t actually have children (yet) or who have suffered from infertility who are still grouped into the “mommyblogger” category because of their general appeal to the same type of reader/ad demo. So, name is troublesome, yes. But ad demo is good. The ad demo is what makes our niche so coveted, despite being not particularly traffic-heavy, or useful, or even interesting to the internet at large. People who have not spent much time outside of the mommyblogosphere really do not understand how good we have it in terms of ad money, possibility of advancement, book deals per capita, and the like. You think it’s tough to make it among the mommies? You have no idea, friends. Trust me, you’re going to want to stay here where the money’s good and the water is shallow.
Second, I think that too often we get caught up in the politics of generations past without thinking about what we are saying. Maybe forty years ago we needed to remind people that women were more than just mothers. I think that at that historical moment it was revolutionary to do that. But I’m not sure that today, in America, that is essential to do anymore. While I’m sure there’s still a stray “barefoot and pregnant” believer out there, most people are well aware that women are capable of doing a lot more than bearing children. Motherhood no longer inscribes your existence unless you allow it to do so. When we react to these things as if they are horrific instances of sexism, we’re wasting time on wars that don’t really need to be fought anymore. There are so many other issues that we can worry about. Let’s get started on those.
Finally, in my mind, objecting to the term “mommyblogger” is another of the same problems. While I was at BlogWorld Expo, I was discussing the mommyblogger vertical with some guys from a new ad startup called iSocket (Cool idea that I will discuss at length later), and I noticed they were tripping over their words to avoid calling it the “mommyblogger” vertical. This was probably smart on their part, given the way people deal with it in this niche, but they wouldn’t have to bother with this for me. The way they explained it was that it had to do with what kinds of blogs would appeal to the same people looking at a bunch of them listed next to each other — they wouldn’t necessarily all be mommies writing about their kids, but they all tend to have the same kind of readers. Those are the people who are thought of as being within the “mommyblogger vertical.” My thoughts on being called a mommyblogger are basically: who cares? Am I a mommy? Do I blog? Does it describe the whole of my existence? Of course not. But nothing does. What could? The hairsplitting and minutiae all over a name is exhausting and unimportant. Instead, when I hear “mommyblogger” I embrace it. That is the ad vertical of Dooce, of Pioneer Woman — I think of all the money in that vertical and I happily say, “Yes, I am one of those!” That is all it means to me. And that’s all it should mean to you.