Thursday, 7 March 2013

Boys will be Boys? Well...Women will be Women!

Cue time for another post of the politics of blogging. Oh well, it has been a while...

I attempted a while ago to break into parent blogging networking with disastrous consequences. My face didn't fit and all attempts at communication were ignored. I didn't really put a serious amount of effort into this so I wasn't gutted when my attempts elicited little reaction. I tried to reach out to find way to promote my blog and was barked at by so-called experienced parent bloggers. My questions were derided by one high priestess of bloggers and so I couldn't be bothered pursuing it. My questions weren't banal nor stupid but genuine, I'm not exactly as thick as mince as we say here in the North. I wasn't kissing someone else's feet for information that if I spend half an hour on Google, I could work out for myself. This post in no way reflects sour grapes regarding my experience but a general dismay and musing at the unsurprising (gendered) politics that have invaded and taken over the blogging experience for some.

My readership is wide and features people from all walks of life and I like it that way. My blog is read by cooks, by academics, by parents, by my parents, in laws, friends and writers. This mix makes comments and feedback a challenge which apparently helps to bump up your stats, but I'm not that bothered. I don't bother manipulating a post so that it requires comment. I don't really write constant developmental posts and posts about all of the cute things that Miss B and A do. I would never be off of the computer and would miss all of the things that they do as a consequence. I can take or leave my blog sometimes and don't stress about lacking the inspiration needed to write. As I watch others go through all of this stress over boosting stats and getting free stuff, I ask can they really be enjoying their blogging experience? It looks so stressful worrying about all of this peripheral stuff. I occasionally pimp my blog but see blogs with huge readerships implode as the pressure to post becomes too much, too time consuming.

Despite my half-arsed approach to blogging, this my numbers keep rising and falling and I meet new bloggers all of the time. I am happy and proud of my blog. I am zen about my blogging experience but have discovered that a blogging war has been going on in the background.

Maternal mafias have sprung up all over the internet. A kind of Calabrian vs Sicilian factional war. Ruling one network or another and making the lives of other bloggers unpleasant. For the uninitiated I'll give you a quick run down of the various networks.

There is:
Netmums Bloggers Network
Parent Bloggers
Mumsnet Blogging Network
(I'm sure there are others but you get the point)

So what you (the blogger) do is once you have created your blog, you enroll it on one or all of these networks. Now given the number of networks it may come as no surprise that it takes a HUGE amount of time and energy pimping out your blog on these networks. Creating contacts, bonding with other like-minded bloggers. The amount of time this takes (I don't do it but occasionally trawl through the days events when the kids are in bed) leaves me wondering when do these parent bloggers get time to blog or in fact, parent the kids that they are writing about? This is not a slight, just a general wondering about how these women manage this. I barely have time to blog and I'm not working outwith the house at the moment and I only have two kids. Answers below if you are one of these fantastically multi-tasking women.

Rather depressingly, these networks have bloomed and now because there are so many of them, you get groups of women using whichever one suits them best. From this activity you get cliques. Cliques who decide who is worthy and who is not, crowding round anyone who has an alternative opinion to them. One of them attacks another saying something about their parenting skills or opinions and then a whole crowd come out of the woodwork, reciting "yeah, that's what we think too!" until said blogger is pushed out of the network or banned altogether. There is a general muttering amongst those who have found this activity distressing that have suggested forming new network, creating new cliques because they didn't fit into another one. You can see the vicious circle happening...

I find this depressing because it's such a stereotypical gendered activity. If we were men, we'd all be punching each other and then having a pint afterwards but no, words are exchanged cutting deep and wounding the reputation and pride of others. Why is it in our natures to behave like this? There should be a modicum of solidarity  Although I have tried to keep my blog genre neutral, I am a parent and it is what I post about the most. We're all parents, grandparents, step-parents and we all have aspirations, goals and dreams. To steal the words of a cruel and unusual dictator "we are all in this together", however insincere his words were. I have watched this crap happen online and in real life and it depresses me. Some women are horrid, nasty creatures who keep a lid on things until they pick a moment to unleash their nastiness. It may have nothing to do with you but you might walk into the firing line of their frustrated, angry existence and so kablam! You get it.

We are all women are we are all mothers and this aspect of womanhood should be celebrated. It’s obvious that gender equality is still misunderstood by many, including women. Gender equality doesn’t give women the right to male-bash and womens’ rights is no more a man’s responsibility as it is a woman’s responsibility to propagate. Equality isn’t just about being equally good, it can also be about how both sexes are equally flawed. This aspect of celebrating womanhood intrigues me more.

I love being a woman. I celebrate it when I look at my children and I am continually in awe that my little, knackered body has produced these two wonderful things. This is what makes women special. Nevertheless, I myself know that women aren’t always united. I come from a family of strong women and they fight more than I like. I suppose it’s nature for us lionesses to fight, to compete, to be wary of all others and to circle our prey before a vicious attack. But perhaps we should strive to be more. 
It is most important that this support comes from within not only when necessary but in case it ever becomes necessary. Women are natural nurturers and protectors. Under what circumstances do these instincts diminish?

Is there really no way of avoiding this behaviour? What do you think?


  1. I too find the 'inner circle' thing tiresome. It's fine, I don't think anyone is ever going to be able to change this, so I've decided not to get fussed about it.
    I've tried out most of the networks you've mentioned and just stayed with the ones I feel happiest using. I don't get involved in any of the cliches but if someone is having a conversation that I think I can contribute to I just jump in.
    I don't take it personally. The fact that women form these cliches, or even let them form, says more about them, than you or I.

  2. *Waits quietly for backlash*...!The blogging mafia aren't going to like this ;-)
    I do love it though, and agree wholeheartedly that so many women think that women's rights equals women having some sort of upper hand. I wrote about something similar a few months ago, about how women are up in arms about our portrayal in the media, but we forget that men don't fare very well when matched up to the media's portrayal of their gender either. One of my biggest bugbears at the moment is those Boots adverts where men are shown to be jibbering simpletons who use face cream on their piles or suchlike. It's insulting.

  3. Spot on lady :)

    The more "cliques" that I see popping up everywhere makes me want to run into seclusion and not be associated with any of it. Yes, I have a nice little readership and I am enrolled on some of the networks you have listed, but if being enrolled on these networks means being associated with these soap-box bitchy women, I'd prefer to give it all up.

    At the end of the day, your readers *should* stick by you no matter what network you're in. If they don't, they don't deserve to be your readers anyway.

  4. Your title sums it up - women WILL be women. I remember a former primary school teacher telling me the nastiest creature he's ever come across in all his years of teaching is a primary 6 girl! We learn it at the coal face. If we find ways to attack each other for even the most fundamental of decisions, how to feed our babies, what hope do we have when it comes to the wonderful complexities of life?

    I let myself get dragged into a huge blogger-spat last year and I still question wtf motivated me to get involved. Afterwards I took a huge step away from the computer, I didn't (still don't) have the energy to mend the online persona that emerged thru all that and fix it to reflect the real me.... I just couldn't make it matter to me enough.

    I withdrew from BMB/Britmums several times. I post now and again at Bloggered since I find it more dip in/out (and I get good tech help there) and less "mummy" driven. I don't feel comfortable with the "Mummy Blogger" label and will be steering clear of Netmums and Mumsnet... anything with the word Mum in it I guess.

    I can only imagine what anyone new to this plethora of communities built around Mummy blogging thinks of it all... I think there's a real need for a less niched community... the former British Bloggers looked good but it folded when Ning moved to charging.

    Parenting is simply a minefield of opinions, evidenced by the amount of advice on the subject people seem to both seek out and offer through blogs. I mean, what exactly IS a parenting expert apart from a contradiction in terms?

  5. Sadly true. Many women are just inherently bitchy and they can't seem to rein it in at all.
    I'd much rather people had stuff out, face to face, than all the back stabbing and bitchiness that goes on.
    It frustrates the hell out of me!

  6. Echoing what others have said: I just stay out of it. Did that at school, doing it now! Of course you'll find competitive alpha mummy bloggers, you'll find them in ANY group of women, ANYWHERE - what you need to remember is that there's nowt wrong with being a beta ;)

    And, for every uber-bitch, there's ten lovely ladies who'll make up for it. Win!

  7. I agree that where you get groups of women you can get power cliques whether it be school, college or work. I personally don't like them; never have done since my school days and avoid them. Saying that though I have joined various mum forums and have found some interesting information and links. However, I would not describe myself as a typical mum blogger but rather a blogger who blogs about autism/aspergers which I know isnt everybodys cup of tea. But I'm happy with that. Deb (previously aspergers, family life and me)

  8. I don't ever tend to fit into any Cliques,I am a sociable person but tend to only have a small group of close friends.I am usually polite.When it come to blog Networking,I am very new-I've only been blogging for 7 weeks but have already noticed certain affiliations.All I want to do is write about a topic I love-my kids and review some nice things.That said I made a fab contact via twitter tonight-pure fluke but it could be very promising.

  9. I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience trying to 'break into' 'Mummy blogging'. Perhaps I'm a bit naive but I haven't experienced cliques as strong as you describe - yes, there are groups of friends on Twitter, bloggers who have a history and naturally talk to each other a lot, and people who use particular networks or forums will know each other better, but generally I haven't found them difficult to chat to. I don't want to be part of any cliques, I just do my own thing and if people want to read it, good for them.

    I think that getting too deep into 'mummy blogging' communities has actually been bad for my blog - I read too many things the same and thought that I had to be a certain way. I'm now making an effort to read blogs that aren't 'mummy blogs', and to write as a person as well as a mummy.

  10. What a horrible experience. I haven't been aware of those cliques, but it doesn't surprise me. I lash my blog up on a few of those sites but I don't hang around to get involved as I have hungry children to feed and a house to bulldoze into submission.
    I used to be a nurse, and sadly you often get the same carry-on there too.

  11. Well said, fantastic post. I agree that there is a blogging mafia out there and to be honest, the bullying is just getting boring now! Perhaps bullying is too strong? I just hate cliques thats all! Great post, love it

  12. I never understand why people want to be nasty to each other IRL or the blogging world :(

  13. I am fairly new to blogging. I whole heartedly agree with your post I have noticed certain sites where there are said 'cliques' but on others its more care free and I have been made to feel welcome.
    Sadly at the moment I have far to much time on my hands to blog as I am bed bound until I have an op and have recovered. Once I have recovered I know I will have less time to spend as you say pimping my blog and writing it.
    Very much enjoyed reading what you said as I did wonder for a moment- is it just me being sensitive!

  14. As someone who is completely unsociable and hides behind a computer screen, I could never get wrapped up in cliques even if I wanted to. Which I don't. I see the occasional spats on Twitter and wonder what it's all about as I did with the more recent falling out concerning Britmums, but I stay away from it all. I blog because I love to blog and I network socially because I love to network socially. Once the bitching and the snidy comments start up I move on to the next conversation. My blog and my time spent online is too precious to me to worry about being involved in cliques and playground rows.

    There is enough pressure in the world as it is and we as bloggers, never mind mums, really don't need to be put under any more.

    CJ xx

  15. In haste - I'm busy writing a book about blogging that includes a chapter on community and how supportive bloggers are. Or should be. My deeply unscientific conclusion is that the best blogs are all about the blogger not the groups he or she joins... unless that really lights your candle. It's an online diary and no one but the diarist decides what's in the diary.

  16. Yes I agree I have seen a few instances of ganging up among bloggers on facebook and I would never get involved with netmums or mumsnet as i have always found them too dictatorial ( I used to use the sites to find case studies as a journalist long before I blogged). I've tried to stand up for someone being bullied ( I've not been a victim myself) and I like to think as an outsider making a " hang on a minute" comment it did rein it in a bit.
    However, women can be incredibly supportive and nurturing as I have found both online and at women in film and television - WFTV is a face to face networking thing rather than online and maybe this helps but it really has reaffirmed my faith in our sex at its best. Those good women are out there! x

  17. Not seen it myself. But I'm not on anything other than Britmums - which I'm not sure of the point of tbh. I used to write on Netmums a lot way back in 2005 but it started getting bitchy on certain threads and then they started to clamp down on people putting anything interesting in their signature and it all became a bit fascist ;-) lol. Protecting their advertising and the whole thing lost it's way. But I've not seen anything bitchy on Britmums.... not about to look for it either.

  18. I think if you're passionate about your blog, then that's all that matters. I often wonder if other groups of similar bloggers have the same problem as us parents? To be honest, the spats on Twitter just make me feel really uncomfortable, and it's at those times that I turn the computer off and spend time with my RL friends and family.

  19. well, I love the post. I totally agree with you.

    I have always been concerned with the bullying that goes on amongst certain blogging communities. Concerned because I think the bullies get away with it with their snide comments and bitchiness. The other thing I don't like is, other bloggers being up the arse of these bullies. In fact, that pisses me off even more. A lot of people encourage them-they join in with their memes and gush over their shite posts. You don't really have a right to complain if you're doing that.

    Also, why should anyone keep away from these communities like fb, twitter, netmums, Britmums? They are all excellent networking sites and I have met some amazing people through them and wouldn't dream of being bogged down with it all.

    I say fuck the bullies! We should all stay strong and laugh at their pettiness and embarassing behaviour! I would love someone try to bully me because they will have met their match....

    However, sometimes it's easy to misunderstand people through twitter etc and some things are taken out on context too but then again that makes it an easy excuse to deny being a bully.... xxx

  20. It's such a relief to read posts like this when it feels like you have to join those sites to even get noticed. I've only been on the mummy blogging 'scene' for a few months and have found it difficult to get anywhere with networking. I too barely find time to blog, let alone socialise on multiple sites.

    I'm also quite shy and I don't like to promote my blog as it feels too much like spamming - even if that's half the point of all this networking business.

    Most of my visitors come via google searches. I'm quite happy with this as it means people are actively looking for something I have written about. I'm not keen on the over-commercialisation of blogs, it so often seems all about making money and getting freebies. I intentionally don't do sponsored posts or freebie reviews for that reason. I just want to blog about whatever I feel like whenever I have time.

  21. Just do what I did and resign from them all- I'm not on BMB (Banned, over a joke at Twitter, how cult like is that that I was being watched on my own time?) Blogger.Ed (too many "I have no sense of humor" people there unfortunately) or the Parent Bloggers bit of Facebook (found it dull and too many of those who feel its a sport to gang up on me to please the Highest priestess of blogging). I blog cos I enjoy it, I am myself, and I have a sense of humor and even swear the odd time too. But in blogging, people can read out inappropriate posts as a key note at Cybermummy yet bemoan me using the word "tossers" on my Facebook status.
    I actually find the nicer people are those who realise how messed up and unsupportive it really is as a parent blogger- its all caused by jealousy, which is just playschool!

  22. There are definitely some 'strong' characters out there, vocalising 'strong' opinions, but I think I am either naive or following the wrong people, as I've not seen any bitching or bullying, although I have read lots of blog posts recently on this subject.
    It's really quite saddening and shameful that women, women who have the reponsibility of bringing up children, behave in such a way. And as for those who berated and ignored you when you asked for advice, that's really nasty and quite unacceptable behaviour. Are they really so worried about competition? Are they really so insecure in themselves?
    I love this post. I love your blog. And I love your attitude to it all.

  23. I'm not a "popular" blogger. I don't register high on the great blogger lists. I think it's to do with not doing memes. I like to write, and to debate, i write about some quite serious stuff, so i'm not everyone's cup of tea in the mummy blogging sphere. and i'm trying to widen my horizon. but i haven't really experience any gangland behaviour. I do post some pretty strong opinions, i reckon some people have unfollowed me on twitter, but i've never been harrassed. and i've never really noticed any awful cliques. Thank god.


  24. This is one of the advantages of not having any spare time is that my blog is a hobby and as such doesn't give me delusions of grander and has to fit in around everything else going on in my life

    And it means I haven't the faintest clue how to be in a clique or the time to try and be in one


Thanks for taking the time to comment!