I entered a twilight zone last night when I accidentally googled Dooce instead of typing her address into my web browser. What came up as I finished typing the “e” was that now-ubiquitous list of google suggestions and number three was “Dooce Haters”. Intrigued I clicked and was lost to the world for two hours.
What I discovered (besides the usual spectacle of women tearing each other apart over bathroom tiles and parenting styles) was a fascinating discussion about the rise of mommy-blogging and whether or not these blogs prolong or exacerbate the Feminine Mystique, the happy housewife ideal. Women desperately doing everything in their power to maintain a perfect facade while everything beneath crumbles behind closed doors.
Here discourse seems to be split down the middle, with some arguing that the mighty Dooce was one of the first to break through this barrier by writing openly about her struggles with depression, checking herself into a Psych ward post-postpartum and her frequent feelings of being overwhelmed. Half of the blogosphere holds her up as a shining beacon of truth, honestly relating the experiences of motherhood, while the other just as enthusiastically denounces her as a fake, a sell-out. The latter half argues that Dooce is pushing a sort of reality unattainable to most. They charge that her blog has grown to such behemoth proportions that the content has become wholly unrelatable. Earning a rumoured $40,000/month from blog ads and endorsements, the subject of Dooce’s posts has remained much the same -life’s daily foibles and frustrations- but these days her readers (some of them at least) are painfully aware that this is the woman with the power to simply tweet her dissatisfaction with her Maytag washer and have it replaced free of charge by a rival brand. This is a woman who now earns a million dollars a year, still blogging about mess and children while simultaneously posting pictures of an immaculate magazine-ready home.
Do mommybloggers, at least the successful ones, unknowingly contribute to the idea of the perfect home, the happy housewife, even if they themselves admit their occasional dissatisfaction? Is it disingenuous to continue marketing yourself as just another mom-down-the-street when you now earn six figures? When does a blog become a brand?
Jess and caught up on gmail chat the other day and ended up discussing this while talking about another big-time blogger, SouleMama:
Jessica: What else, I commute to work by bike (45 mns each way)and i still hate london and want to live on a farm like Soule Mama
me: Oh me too. Don’t you just DROOL every time she posts a pic of her gorgeous floors and organically painted walls?
Jessica:I know, it’s disgusting isn’t it she even makes motherhood look nice.1:08 PM And she has maple trees! And pigs! I want pigs
me: Oh my. it’s too good! I almost wish she would occasionally blog about the struggles, the hard parts…it’s too easy to believe that everything is perfect
Jessica: i knooooooow I think she doesn’t because it doesn’t make sense business-wise you know?
me: yeah, she’s selling a brand, an image
Jessica: Like,she’s not Dooce, she can’t cash on the drama, it needs to be lovely and nice and positive1:10 PM which isn’t bad per se, but you’re like… surely your life isn’t THAT great yo! her husband sounds real nice too her knitting makes me feel inadequate
To be fair Soulemama does have a section in her “About Me” page where she offers the disclaimer that there are frustrations in her life, there is yelling and mess and discord. But, she explains, her blog is a place to escape that and record the good times.
Still. Here we are, women (millions of us) reading each of these blogs and being presented an image of perfection. Dooce with her designer styled house and steezy clothing, HGTV endorsements hiding behind the scenes. SouleMama with her earth-mother sewing, cooking, crafting it all from scratch lifestyle.
Do we feel inadequate? I would argue that presented with these images, if one is prone to comparison, yes. But is this their fault? And would we do any different? I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t jump at the chance to quit my job and write all day. Isn’t that the dream? Isn’t that why we’re doing this?Is this just another case of women tearing down those of us who have succeeded at what we have not (yet)?