Firstly, GOOD ON YOU women speaking out against this kind of bullying. I think that rocks, because it’s not okay to bully anyone for anything. But, yet again, the media has sensationalised something in this space, like the “mummy wars“, that serves only to perpetuate the notion of bitchy, panicky, insecure women being unkind to each other.
There is a lot of chatter at the moment about the perceived abuse of mummy bloggers. It seems geared slightly toward those who make money from the gig, but there is mucho complaino* about it everywhere.
I have a couple of thoughts that may just come out as further mummy blogger bullying, but I’m going to give it a bash anyway. Obviously I am not speaking about anyone specifically, but the notion as a whole.
Let me start by qualifying myself as a kind of mummy blogger. The mean, angry, weird kind, maybe, but a mummy blogger nevertheless, because I blog about my kids, sometimes in ways that are not flattering to any of us. People have said things to me that have got under my skin or made me have a small teary or given me reason to consider flouncing away from the internet FOREVER. So I’m not just kicking mummy bloggers with hurt feelings in the shins and telling them they are a bunch of dicks.
That being said, the very nature of blogging is to put yourself out there. It’s a kind of celebrity, in the same way that being a politician or an author or a sporting team mascot is a kind of celebrity. As soon as you give your work to the public, they are within rights to scrutinise it. If you don’t want to be scrutinised – which means taking the good with the bad – then you should keep your writing private.
If you’re thin-skinned about it, you are perpetuating the perception that mummies are pretend people. You know, when you go to the office and people ask what you did on the weekend and you say “WE WENT TO EIGHT BIRTHDAY PARTIES AT AMF BOWLING” and they laugh at you because you’re not a person, you’re just someone’s mother. That’s the kind of person we’re trying not to be on the internet, isn’t it? If we get all “AND ALSO FOUR PEOPLE SAID I AM A BAD PARENT ON THE INTERNET”, we’re even further away from our goal of legitimising ourselves as writers and as people.
But most importantly, this type of bullying behaviour isn’t even close to being exclusive to mummy bloggers, and the fact that they/we are so up in arms about it speaks quite loudly about the egotism at play here (please put down your molotov cocktail). Let’s maintain some perspective. In some industries, women are physically violated. In others, they are ignored or vilified just because of their gender. I know women who have been told to “tell a man to put forward the same idea”, because then it will be a valid one. Women (and men) across all industries are bullied because of their background, their appearance, their intelligence, their race, their religion, their age and on and on it goes. If you go into a traditional workplace, like an office block, and say “Hey you guys my kid totally SHIT ON ANOTHER KID!” they will “bully” you. They will say “your kid is a wanker!” and they will say it to your face. The internet is not designed to protect you any more than it is okay for these “bullies” to hide behind their anonymity. The fact that people – the public – have a direct line to you via social media or comments on your blog or your email address does not mean you are more bullied than anyone else in any other field. It doesn’t mean you are being targeted because of what you do to make a crust. It means that you are a person with an idea who is dealing with other people with other ideas, just as you would be if you were working in a school or an office or a construction site.
I have my knickers in a twist because actually we are very lucky to be able to do what we love and sometimes make money out of it. Bullying anywhere is horrible, but the public doesn’t owe mummy bloggers less bullying just because they are saying things on the internet, does it?