Last week I got a call from a reporter writing an article for the New York Times. We chatted briefly. She wanted to confirm a quote from me, something I’d mentioned while paneling with Stephanie Schwab, Stefania Butler and Amie Adams at Mom 2.0. I was flattered. Many of my friends were also quoted in the article.
Not everyone was so happy when the article came out.
The complaint asserted by more than few people, was that the article was condescending. That it belittled mom bloggers, despite (curiously) the fact the the author herself is one of them. Many women read the title of the NY Times article as a judgement. “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand” - my (and everyone else’s) emphasis on the “too”. In an era of epic female self loathing over the unattainable goal of Supermom, that one word was enough to douse the entire article in gasoline. Throw in a quote from a mom whose spouse considers her blogging an “expensive hobby” and we have ignition. Is this controversy real? Or manipulated? It’s easy to predict the reaction to such fightin’ words.
My take on it was different.
Personally, I found other points of the article more interesting, and oddly, inspiring. History-in-the-making inspiring.
Central to the story is Tiffany Romero of The Secret is In the Sauce and her “Bloggy Boot Camp”. Tiffany is described in the article as:
“A summer-camp director from Los Angeles, she steered the proceedings with the good-natured sass of a sorority social chairwoman and the enthusiasm of a, well, summer-camp director. (She went barefoot for much of the day and said “You guys!” a lot.)”
The article also makes reference to women “splayed” at laptops, sipping breakfast cocktails from brightly colored “plastic sippy cups”. Splayed and Sippy Cups. Alliterative. Begging the question: What kind of business model is this? Hardly the sort to take seriously? Women who go barefoot, who splay, who drink from sippy cups? And yet, like Google, Zappos, and Facebook whose quirky, unconventional cultures are inseparable from their corporate success, Tiffany Romero is a success. A true role model to many.
Make no mistake, at this moment scores of parents are clamoring for their kids to gain entry into the summer camp that sorority social Tiffany runs. It’s one of the oldest, most successful, and most respected camps in the highly competitive LA market. This summer camp is a thriving business that allows Tiffany the time to run her blog empire and spend scads of time with her kid. She is the modern Superwoman.
If I wanted to look for it, I’m sure I could find plenty to object to in this article. However, I choose not to. This argument is not going anywhere. I’m not fond of the title of the piece and feel my lunch coming up at the characterization of Tiffany, but I’m going with a quote from Gandhi, that puts it all in a positive light.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win”
Traditional media, marketing, and business professionals are clearly having a problem with the rise of social media. Moms are an easy target. Straw dog easy. The mom blogger community is a large and diverse one. It’s easy to pick fights from within, to stir up controversy, to pour some gas and light a match. We don’t need another conflicted author from the NYTimes to whip us into a frenzy about new media vs old and working motherhood. As mom bloggers pass from the “make fun of” stage to the “fight” stage you can expect more of this. But it will get better.
There is no question in my mind that mom bloggers, perhaps as part of a larger force of social change, will “win” in the end. Mom bloggers are too prolific, prominent and influential to ignore. Mom bloggers are a modern, dynamic force. Don’t believe it? Take a look at this impressive list of things that mom bloggers are doing, compiled by Liz Gumbinner of Mom 101.
Feeling slighted by the NYTimes? Surely a sign that mom bloggers (and the 23 million women who engage with them, according to the article) are doing something right. I raise my brightly colored plastic sippy cup in a toast of congratulations.