Paula F. sent in a link to Babble.com’s list of the top 100 ‘mom blogs’ of 2011. Mom blogs have become wildly popular in recent years as a way to document and comment on the experience of motherhood, and this particular list illustrates some interesting things about social privilege. Paula was struck by the lack of racial diversity among the selected blogs and noted how women of color are vastly underrepresented. For example, only 7 of the blogs are written by African-American moms, and 4 of those refer to the mother’s race in the title (although the same is not true for any of the blogs written by white women).
A quick review of the blogs reveals some other interesting issues related to social privilege and motherhood. In addition to the lack of racial diversity, the blogs included in the list show very little variation in terms of class, sexuality, age, and marital status. (The blogs were chosen by a panel of “experts” that took into consideration nominations from Babble readers, so it’s unclear how representative they are of mom blogs in general.)
While there is the more obvious privilege of the “digital divide,” or the disparate access that people have to technology and the internet, there is also privilege in having the spare time to devote to intensive writing/blogging and the connections necessarily to draw sponsorship and advertising. Moreover, while some of the selected blogs do offer narratives that deviate from traditional ideas about mothering and motherhood (for example, several blogs discuss mental health issues, the struggles of parenting, and forming blended families), they nonetheless reproduce a narrow image of who mothers are, what they look like, and what they do.
Christie Barcelos is a doctoral student, a mom, and a blogger, but not really a mom blogger.
Anonymous — February 23, 2012
I have noticed this. Every time I stumble upon a "mommy blog," they seem to fit the same general formula: white, of a certain age (older than me, younger than 40), upper-middle class (whether they say that or not). A majority of them seem to be stay-at-home moms, and they tend to be rural (or idealizing a rural lifestyle) or what I'd call a grown-up hipster. It's completely disconnected with the working/middle-class, urban/suburban reality I grew up with: women of every different color all went to work in the mornings. The few that didn't spent a lot of time cleaning, running errands, or spending time with school involvement.
Something else I've noticed is that mommy blogs is the age of the kids. They very often focus on kids of toddler to preschool age. I always wonder what's going to happen a) when their kid hits 6 or 7 and has to go off to school full time (and thus they won't have time for nonstop playdates and home-made activities, and Mom will be home alone), and b) when their kids get a bit older and aren't necessarily going to want to participate in things like "make a pioneer dress out of daddy's old work shirt."
Yrro Simyarin — February 23, 2012
I just can't imagine anyone having time to blog as a single parent.
John Gunter — February 23, 2012
My wife tunes into a few of these blogs. The production value of these blogs is incredible and after I troll through a few of these sites I often wonder, if mommy invests all this time documenting her life and regularly composing elegant blog entries, who the heck is parenting?!?
Anonymous — February 23, 2012
I would think a "top mom blog" is a top mom blog because the people who write them are excellent writers and have displayed skill and influence in their ability to portray the motherhood they're experiencing. Are we really bringing race into this?
Also, I am a white mommy blogger in my 30's and work two full time jobs from home. I get to stay home with my kids, I get to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while checking my email every morning, I get to write about the cute things my kids say and do...I'm very privileged. And I work my ass off for it.
My youngest is 4. I have no idea what I'm going to write about when he stops being cute...which reminds me, I've got to go make another baby STAT. Toodles!
Penny — February 23, 2012
It is interesting that so few mummy blogs I have read are from urban mums - life is obviously busy in the city!
I do sometimes shake my head at how out-of-touch with ordinary life some mummy bloggers are. I enjoy crafts and have seen some unbelievable 'budget' projects on these blogs. My favourite was a project to make 'frugal' clothes and the mum used $30 a yard designer fabric!
Kate — February 23, 2012
Something that has stood out to me is the number of mommy bloggers who are Mormon. I've even seen this trend discussed on some of their sites with the popularity of blogging of Mormon women attributed to their cultural history of recording life events, being resourceful (hence all the crafts), etc. Even Dooce, one of the most famous mommy bloggers is an ex-Mormon.
Anonymous — February 23, 2012
Note to the site editors: The blogger responses to this post would make a great future post.
Anonymous — February 23, 2012
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Dad bloggers (at least as of when I'm writing this comment.)
The Babble link does make a _passing_ reference to Dad bloggers (and I noticed there are some men on the panel), so hopefully some were at least considered.
I don't have children, so I don't seek out or read parenting blogs unless they happen to be written by friends, so maybe someone who is knowledgeable about the field could fill me in. Is there a significantly larger number of Mom blogs than Dad blogs out there? Are there just not that many that would meet the standards of the list? If Mom bloggers are predominantly stay-at-home, as commenters have suggested, I can see that skewing the numbers as well.
cielo — February 23, 2012
Check out this (archived) blog "Love is Blind". Megg wrote from the perspective of a single mom raising a daughter who is visually impaired. http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/loveisblind/default.aspx In line with this discussion of who wires mom blogs, her blog is offline now. I find mom blogs through my mom friends. If we spread the word when we find a unique perspective, the audience will grow. What other mom blogs do folks here follow?
Erika Klein — February 23, 2012
no one would want to read a blog about a mom struggling in poverty AND dealing with a mental health issue. it's taboo in momblogger world.
Quiet riot girl — February 23, 2012
If 7 of the top 100 are by Afro American moms and the percentage of afro-american people in the US population is 12, it's not quite as bad as you imply.
Dogger — February 23, 2012
[irrelevant observation]Since "web log" got mashed into "blog" for brevity I'd have thought "mom blog" would've been similarly condensed to "mog" and would naturally be written by moggers.
I guess the same wouldn't work so well for "dad blogs" though. [/end irrelevant observation]
Valerie — February 24, 2012
One of my favorite blogs. Single unemployed anthropologist mom of a small gaggle of adopted special needs kids. They are living in a trailer (the kind that pick up trucks tow) and spent some time in a tent. She has been long term unemployed, although I think she has found some kind of work recently.
jpe — February 24, 2012
I'd wager that the demographics of the audience track the demographics of the top 100. In light of that, I'm not sure what is supposed to be interesting or noteworthy about this.
Layne — February 24, 2012
I'm not a regular commenter, but wanted to jump in quickly here. This post is doing good work in bringing some problems with Babble's rankings of social media writers and the "mom blog" phenomenon to a broader audience. However, this conversation about privilege, race, and gender performance in the "mom blog" community has been going on for quite a while within the community itself. I'll leave a few links from mom bloggers who wrote about Babble's rankings of top Twitter parents:
While the Babble list is ripe for analysis and criticism, I think it's important that we realize that a lot of "mom bloggers" are aware of and participate in conversations about the privilege issues that have become common criticisms of that genre.
Valerie — February 24, 2012
2 things that really stood out to me (I just looked through the top 14, #15 didn't show up): Besides one or two that I couldn't be sure about, they are all women married to men
The styles are all similar. Clean lines on the blog, cute kids in pictures (not surprising for a blog). Also, the houses are ridiculously clean and the moms post with self-deprecating humor about how messy their houses, lives, and/or kids are. It is interesting that women are not fully allowed to revel in the success that is a clean house.
LMH — February 25, 2012
If they are upper middle class white women at home with their children, then what other persona should they create to write about mothering? And it seems as though these women are being criticized for finding time to write?
I hope no one ever checks out my teaching blog. I am the stereotypical (I guess) white middle aged woman teaching high school English. I hate to think what everyone thinks about me taking my life seriously...
Michelle — February 25, 2012
Thank you for noticing this and writing about it. I've been a mom for 7 years, and noticed how all the "popular" blogs that earn a living for someone are ran by white moms, too. I fit a lot of those descriptions, but I'm not blind so find it irritating that again, in another area of something I so easily fit into, people of color are underrepresented because of things like racism (institutionalized and personal) and class differences. Grrrrr.
Bex Groebner — February 25, 2012
I read and follow several blogs that are written by mothers of color or mothers who would be classified as having lower economic status (though privilege comes in many forms/varieties). Those blogs just didn't make it to that specific Top 100 that this article is referring to. It doesn't necessarily mean that blogging about parenting is a "privileged white thing" as much as it means that the voting readers in that magazine choose to read and enjoy the blogs written by "privileged white women." I'm putting privileged in quotes because there is no such thing as a white woman who is not privileged in this country. If a white person were to write a blog, that's an automatic. The important thing to me is whether or not they see and acknowledge that privilege in their writing and daily life....Btw, thanks for mentioning that only 7% of those blogs are written by AA mothers. I'm wondering if you spoke personally with those mothers and asked them how they identified? Also, did you speak personally with all of the other mothers and do you know if the 93% that is left there all identify as white? "People of color" is a much larger grouping than "African American," and I wonder whether or not any of the other mothers on the list would identify as such? I certainly hope that the author of this article didn't decide to identify the racial characteristics of these women based on a perusal of their blogs (rather than speaking with them).
Some Links | Naturally Contrary — February 25, 2012
[...] link to Social Privilege and Mom Blogging, was shared by another mom-to-be on Facebook. Interesting observations about the general lack of [...]
Joe Ker — February 26, 2012
More bullshit leftardism.
"BAWW WHAT ABOUT THE WOMENZ AND MINORITIEZ!?"
Onlinesichtbarkeit und “Mama-Blogs” « Wolkenkuckucksblog — February 26, 2012
[...] hat Sociological Images einen interessanten Beitrag zu Privilegien und Online(un)sichtbarkeit. Die Autorin hat beobachtet, dass in einer Hitliste von sogenannten “Mom Blogs” (deren [...]
Diverging Development: Blogs and School Boards | family and society — February 28, 2012
[...] the top blogs as determined by experts and the general readership; which generated the critical contribution to Sociological Images. By simply looking at these mom blogs, “…reveals some other interesting issues related to [...]
The face of mom blogs « New Domesticity — March 1, 2012
[...] excellent Sociological Images blog had an interesting piece this week on “social privilege and mom blogging,” written in response to Babble’s “top 100 mom blogs” list. The post mainly [...]
Mädchenmannschaft » Blog Archive » Sexismus, Rassismus – von allem zu viel: Die Blogschau — March 3, 2012
[...] macht sich anhand dieses Beitrags auf Social Images Gedanken über die mangelnde Diversität sogenannter [...]
Alyle — March 5, 2012
Well, I don't know about the majority, but I'm a single mother, 34 years old, not even upper middle class, and I my son is 8. I blog honestly about it, maybe there are others?
just a mom — March 6, 2012
I live in Washington DC aka the mecca for navel-gazing privileged moms. When my son started school, I was the only single mom, certainly several rungs under the other families financially, and a good 8-10 years younger, although I was 29 at the time. The competition amongst this group of moms was intimidating and fierce. I innately understood that most of the mom relationships were born of networking and I obviously didn't have much to offer in terms of prestige. Still, I couldn't understand why no one ever talked to me when I waited in the pick-up line (on the rare occasion that I could get off work early). Finally, almost a year later, one of the other mom's expressed surprise when she discovered I was [my son]'s mom. They'd all thought I was the nanny because I was "so young". It was then that I looked around and realized that most of these moms were stay-at-home moms as a second career. These were little corporations with pie charts and measurements as much as any other business. In my mind, I associated those poor kids with accessories. Now, I'm not saying they were bad moms. On the contrary, they went at this new role with gusto and their children had plenty of time, attention, and extra-curricular enrichment. By they also had this unspoken set of standards they grew up being pressured to adhere, even exceed. By the time they were in high school, they were pretty burnt out by the pressure and scrutinization.
Mom On A Spiritual Journey — March 9, 2012
Coming very late to this particular discussion, I see. Must have been spending waaay too much time on Facebook, or something. There are multiple reasons I'm sure why moms end up blogging. Fact is, there are now multiple social media platforms which are continually evolving, moms can use them with just a small amount of technical experience, and (if we get really good at it) influence social media at least, change something in the world for the better at most. Whatever our message, whether we are 'privileged' or make the choice to make time amongst everything else to write, share and connect, women are using social media and doing a great job at it. Blog moms, blog!
Pauline Gaines — April 2, 2012
Really interesting article. I'm a mom blogger but often feel like a fish out of mom-blogging waters. While I'm white, my resemblance to the typical mom blogger ends there. I'm in my late 40s, divorced, with a blended family, one child with significant behavioral challenges AND I work full-time. I don't have the time or the money to go to BlogHer. Most of the mom bloggers I know are privileged in that their husbands are the breadwinners and they're able to stay home and write. I'd love to find more bloggers like me.
Links vom 10.05.2012 bis 11.05.2012 | endorphenium Links vom 10.05.2012 bis 11.05.2012 | photography & other stuff — May 18, 2012
[...] Social Privilege and Mom Blogging » Sociological Images – via Read it Later [...]
Stathamjohn82 — September 10, 2012
I'm sure you're all very nice with your own thoughts.
I see this as an extension of a societal problem as well, not just a mommy blogging problem
A majority of them seem to be stay-at-home moms, and they tend to be hard and strong. If they had their maid then she expressed his angry with maid service but what can anyone do?
Mütter im Internet. Oder: wenn Unsichtbares sichtbar wird. | aufZehenspitzen — September 16, 2013
[...] Sociological Images konstatierte anlässlich einer veröffentlichten Liste der 100 Top Mom Blogs des einflussreichen Online-Elternmagazins Babble.com: “Moreover, while some of the selected blogs do offer narratives that deviate from traditional ideas about mothering and motherhood (for example, several blogs discuss mental health issues, the struggles of parenting, and forming blended families), they nonetheless reproduce a narrow image of who mothers are, what they look like, and what they do.” [...]
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