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Sunday
Aug292010

Part II of Detoxing From 31 Day Better Blogger Challenge: Overcoming the Urge to Douche My Vagina  

As I discussed in my last post, I spent the last month participating in the 31 Day Better Blogger Challenge that was conducted by the Sits Girls community, which I explain in further detail here.

I started out with a bang as I rubbed fallopian tubes with other blogging women and felt inspired by the communal spirit.

But it didn't take long for my new found inspiration to turn sour as I became lost among a plethora of never ending recipes, crafts, organizational tips, nuclear family romanticism, and an overwhelming use of the word "mommy". That's right, I was water logged in a sea of mommy bloggers.

Before I go further into my mommy blog angst, I feel that I should clarify the following points for the purpose of self defense:

1. Some of my favorite blogs are parenting blogs, or at least blogs written by people who are parents and regularly write about their children and child rearing in general.

2. I know that child rearing is extremely important, not only in regards to the development of children, but also in regards to the overall health of a society.

3. I perceive parenting as an extremely challenging, yet rewarding commitment and I empathize with the compromises that parents make.

4. I have full respect for stay at home parents and see great value in what they do and perceive them as equally as purposeful as people who work in the public sphere. When/if I have children, I intend to stay at home with them when they're young if at all possible.

5. I am no hater of stereotypically feminine hobbies. I watch HGTV. I talk to cats in a voice that makes me sound like I am a midget high on Ecstasy. Sometimes I even like to talk about my feelings and then cry afterward and blame it on my hormones. Although I will admit that I do not like cleaning. Did you know that a bar of soap that sits unused on the edge of your bath tub can go moldy? It can. Fascinating, really.


That being said. . .

This challenge opened my eyes to a wide demographic of mommy bloggers, and I got to the point where every time I was designated a blog to visit and comment on, I would hope to God it wouldn't be another mommy blog. And it always would be. At two and a half weeks into the challenge, I found myself wanting to wrap my lips around the barrel of a gun in hopes that the misery would end.

I do understand that blogging has given stay-at-home parents, particularly moms, an outlet to express themselves, socialize, and develop an easily accessible community. Totally surpasses Tupperware parties and is way healthier than abusing Lithium. And as a result, mommy blogging has given stay-at-home moms a sense of purpose that extends beyond the private sphere, which can be perceived as progressive and empowering. But for me the blogosphere's saturation of mommy bloggers quickly became stifling as I struggled to find my footing within this demographic.

My breaking point came when I stumbled across a number of particularly aggravating blog posts. One was written by a stay at home Wiccan mother of six children.

Her blog post was an attack on those who perceive staying at home with children as being a luxury (mother's of course, not father's, because according to another mommy blogger, although women would be better suited than men to run the country (US), it wouldn't work because no one would be around to raise the kids to become good people). Her argument was that staying at home with children is the furthest thing from a luxury. BECAUSE HER FAMILY IS POOR AND LIVES ON A TIGHT BUDGET. HOW IS THAT LUXURIOUS?! IT WAS A COMPROMISE SHE MADE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF HER KIDS, OKAY? SHE ACTUALLY CARES ABOUT HER KIDS.

Cough. Not that she'd make enough money to surpass the cost of child care for six kids, anyway. Cough.

I, of course, wanted to respond with two, passionate and meaningful words:

Fuck off.

But I maintained an aura of class and refrained. Not for the sake of my own mother, because my own mother is probably thinking the same thing. And my mother's mother would have actually responded with "fuck off" if she had ever used that kind of crude language. No, I refrained because some stay-at-home moms write letters and form campaigns against popular musical artists for wrecking their children's minds. Because they enforce things like ineffectual gun control regulations that cost Canadian people millions of dollars. Because they scare me.

And then there was the woman who believes that gay marriage should be segregated from the church and religion altogether, because Jesus Christ our Savior only acknowledges heterosexual marriage. In fact, those who want to marry outside of the church aren't really even getting married, as true marriage is defined by religious devotion, so these people are free to officially unite, but should be using a different term altogether, like maybe love buddies? Special friends? It would be a simple solution to the gay marriage debate in the States.

And then there was the comment to that post from another mommy blogger who believes that divorce should be outlawed. In case you missed that, THAT DIVORCE SHOULD BE OUTLAWED. 

THAT DIVORCE SHOULD BE OUTLAWED.

Because that, of course, would remedy things like domestic abuse and spousal murder. And of course children being raised in households with parents who hate each other but cannot escape each other and are perpetually filled with rage and lose all will to live is a great environment for children to be raised. And suddenly I found myself gripping my computer monitor. Violently. And overwhelmed with the urge to douche my vagina, again and again (and again) for no other reason but to cleanse myself of the shame I felt in that particular moment for being a female blogger.

 

Instead, I closed the window and walked away from my computer. And I officially became emotionally detached from the Sits Girls 31 Day Better Blogger Challenge. So while I still finished the e-book on my own time, I stopped posting on the forum and participating in the community.

I dropped out.

I deeply debated writing this. Discussing topics related to female domestication are things I have learned to steer away from-- the "don't go there" topics. Because I haven't endured labour, and because I don't want to  march myself to my own stake burning. I am all for people sharing their views, but when conflicting view points seem to be perceived as anti-social and the only responses to these posts, which I will now refer to as "bubble posts", seeing as how many of these women seem to live in bubbles, are complacent ones, and agreeable ones, and fully supportive ones that offer no further discussion or deeper dialogue, I start to feel like my soul is being smothered by a pillow. That is adorned in a home-made, floral pillow case.

So I soon came to the realization that for many women participating in this challenge, blogging was more about celebrating motherhood as a bourgeoisie, middle class idealism than anything else--  mass masturbating to a mid-century celebration of a time when a woman's identity was revolved around cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and other stereotypically feminine interests like fashion, trinkets, keeping house, consumerism, and ignoring the negative social attributes historically bred from that one-dimensional role.

And while these women pow-wowed in celebration (and defense) of their choice to stay at home with their children, I was disturbed at how they had unknowingly created a limited paradigm (that I believe they originally intended to avoid) by reinforcing narrow notions of what it means to assume the role of stay-at-home mom, like arguing that they are not trying to adhere to a house wife ideal by weighing their worth on things like house keeping, then boasting about how awesome they are at house keeping in a 1000 word blog post. And then posting a ten point list post about house keeping strategies the day after. And then 65 other women leave comments about how the post was so insightful. Ironically, while celebrating their own life choices, which, more often than not, seemed to be made possible by the financial stability of the men in their lives, they seemed to overlook the fact that their boisterous pow-wowing was alienating women who had made other choices, or women who have no choices at all.

According to many of the mommy blogs I visited (and don't get me wrong, maybe I just had really bad luck at which mommy blogs I was designated to hit), poverty doesn't exist beyond budgeting within a one income household. Women who have to work to keep themselves and their babies fed? Apparently they don't exist. Single mothers? What are those? Domestic abuse? What's that? Undependable, unsupportive husbands? Huh? The fact that so many of these women seemed ignorant to what's going on outside of their own rosey suburbanism demonstrated that they do experience luxuries that many women don't. And that's great, except for the fact that many of them are oblivious to their blessings. And that makes me want to hold a Tupperware burning.



And I would if Tupperware wasn't so practical.

And expensive.

And if lighting it on fire wouldn't release toxins into the atmosphere.

Obviously I don't fit in within this niche.

In fact, I don't fit in with a lot of women. During this challenge I started having my recurring nightmares about my best friends from high school, and I have finally realized why I have those dreams.

I have women issues.

It's taken years to make this correlation, but now I know that my nightmares about my old best friends aren't actually about my old best friends. They're about my feelings of alienation from some of the women is my life. Now. Currently. Like Mommy Bloggers. And in a way, that's a relief, because I was starting to wonder if I had marinated into some sort of woman-baby who was unable to get over her ex-girl friends. No. I just have women issues. Obviously my old best friends symbolize female rejection to my subconscious.  And ostracization.  And because I don't feel like I fit in with a lot of women, and then endure this fucked up, inner tug-of-war between frustration, guilt, and a repressed wish that I could just belong, I end up feeling really shitty. And dream about torture. I mean my last year of high school.



I've been at this fork in the road before, where one path leads me to fakin' it and fitting in, and one path leads me to staying true to myself even if it means being lonely sometimes, or at a disadvantage at promoting my blog in the women's corner of the blogosphere. Inevitably I always choose to stay true to myself because deep down I know that throwing myself in with a bunch of women who make me feel frustrated will inevitably just make me feel more frustrated. So, I made the decision to follow the churning in my gut, and accept the fact some women may be offended that I am challenging what I perceive as the revival of the cult of domesticity, and may not want to read my blog or be my friend.

I write critical blog posts like this in honor of the people in my own life whose voices tend to get lost among the buzz of the bandwagon: my mother, who also shares critical views about cookie-cutter, mommy culture; for my home girl Laura, a separated mother of three young kids who works night shift with me and who I have seen so exhausted that her eyes don't properly align;  for my best friend who is a lively and successful career woman who craves life partnership and worries that she will never find it; for my boyfriend who lives in camp three weeks out of the month and stresses that if he becomes a father he will be a stranger to his child; and for myself and my own clumsy struggle to get where I so desperately want to go. I salute all the people out there who have tripped and fallen and forged ahead on bloodied knees, and despite uncomfortable disappointments, still laugh, joke, share, speak honestly, and find pleasure in the simple things, and even though we may bitch, and moan, and lose our shit and cry sometimes, we still appreciate our blessings, although diverse and sometimes unequal, and we realize that there are so many people out there who have is so, so, so much worse.

In my next post titled, Part III: Life After Rehab, I will discuss some of my own blessings and struggles, and how they relate to my experience participating in this challenge. I will also go into further detail about trying to find my place within the blogosphere, or if finding a place to fit is even necessary, and the difficult road ahead in my attempt to transform my aspirations into something more than just a hobby.

In the meantime, I will overcome the urge to douche my vagina.

 

Reader Comments (8)

Goddamn, that last part gave me goosebumps. I'm quoting you on Facebook, you're just gonna have to sue my ass :P

Aug 29, 2010 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony

I think I posted once for the challenge and then said, screw it. Maybe I give up too easily, I just couldn't get into it and I didn't find one blog I could relate to. With that being said, I suppose I didn't explore as many blogs as I could have. Like you, I get the impression that the SITS girls community is centered around the mommy blogging niche. I'm not sure how representative this is of the female blogging population - however, like you mentioned (in a post or comment, I can't remember), several blogs that I am invested in are females who blog about parenting, their family life, and their children - and because I feel a personal connection to them it is different.

I don't know where my blogging niche is either. I rarely blog niche? I write about random shit and hope for the best niche? Lately, it's been a lot about pregnancy and my experiences thus far - more related to the interactions I've had as a woman who is pregnant.

I just wanted to say, I really admire you, your writing, your values. Always have. Do i wish I could publicly write as candidly as you do? Why yes, I do. Do I give a shit about what people will think if I were to be as candid as I am in own brain? Yup, there are times where this definitely is a fear of mine. I appreciate your critical blog posts about domesticity and parenting. I appreciate that there are blogs that make me think rather than elevate my blood pressure with their disgusting values. (NO DIVORCE? WTF IS THAT!)

Looking forward to your rehab post. Thoroughly enjoy this trilogy of detoxing!

Aug 29, 2010 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered Commentertrista

Maybe it truly is where our old age is at right now... AHHH 30.. NOOOO... NOT YET!?>!! But the baby thing just seems to get dumped on woman. From being a tomboy, even then, the moment you get with a guy it's when are you getting married, to the "when are you getting knocked up." I don't know if there is one set of ppl but it seems as though there is a divide between those with kids and those without. And it's if those without don't want kids, or people can't see past the fact that just because one isn't there, doesn't mean you don't want one. Sometimes we just get bodies that don't work the way we want.

As Trista mentioned too, I like to think my blog isn't just about my bitching, or if it is (ha ha!) that some what can be relate able so that I don't feel like a ship out on a path going over a waterfall alone. As life goes on I guess we write about what is relevant in our lives. I very much enjoy reading about your daily struggles/life/blah-de-blah. Sometimes it's just nice having a different perspective and at the very least even if I think we are on the same wave length, you can at least make sense instead of my verbal diarrhea. You have no fear with your writing, but at the same time you are able to be elegant with your verbal body slams and I dig that!

I never got into the 31 day thing. Although I did wonder if it was some kind of birth control/cycle daily log thing.

Aug 29, 2010 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterChandra

I'm so glad that you decided not to burn the tupperware. It IS so practical.

I liked this post. And I wish I could come up with a lot of really insightful shit to say. But unfortunately, I'm feeling somewhat yucky inside today and I've got nothing. I will try again tomorrow!

Aug 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSuzRocks

It can be tough to remain well-rounded with regards to blog topics when you have kids, because your life really does tend to revolve around them. And more than anything, you want to document all their firsts and cute things and daily activities because those are the things you’ll want to reminisce about with the kidlets when they’re all grown up. Or at least that’s how it is for me!

I try to blog about things beyond just my life at home with the babe, not just so people don’t get turned away entirely from my blog if they’re not totally gung-ho about the-daily-lives-of-kids, but also because I WANT to have other interests and things going on to chat about! It’s still tough though, and even I am guilty of dedicating entire posts to things like cleaning and recipe-posting and other stereotypical stay-at-home mom realities.

But wow, the blogs you’re talking about sound almost cult-like. And without wanting to sound rude here, perhaps a tad uneducated. OK, perhaps quite uneducated. While obviously there are exceptions, I would hazard to guess that if one has 7 children all still living at home, there is a strong possibility having a bundle of kids happened before or in replacement of higher education…Not to mention religion factoring in – insert narrow viewpoints and intolerances here. I’m not trying to stir the pot here for any readers who might be religious and/or not educated beyond a high school level. I’m not intending to stereotype or judge, although I have a feeling that’s how it comes across. So I’ll apologize in advance! It is what it is. From what you mentioned regarding some of the posts you read, these are my observations!

It’s strange to me that one would be sooo wrapped up in their own life as to not be able to see the bigger picture. As in, recognizing how different people’s lives can be based on their individual circumstances. And that while staying at home with the little ones might not always FEEL ‘luxurious’ (not even close!) it’s important to put things into perspective…and if you can stay home and dote on your family and be the primary caregiver when your babes are small and need you the most, feel grateful to have been given that opportunity. I know that while there are times when I wish I could run away (during the more difficult tantrum-y days, for example), I do thank my lucky stars every day that I get to be home with my boy. I also thank my lucky stars that I was able to go to university, that I have a supportive husband and family, that I live where I do, and so on.

It’s tough though…I imagine there are various levels of ‘mommy blogging’ out there…mine I would think (and hope) being at the lower spectrum just in terms of the fact that I’m not madly networking to meet others in my situation and in general don’t promote my blog for being any particular thing (or promote my blog at all, as it happens!) It’s just my personal journal and if someone happens upon it, great, but if not that’s fine with me too!

But while I can’t relate to being totally narrow-minded and happy to just dance about in my own little bubble world, I guess I can relate in some ways to posting about seemingly mundane things, like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my little family. It’s hard because like I said before, I do think of myself as a feminist and I do uphold the belief that a woman shouldn’t have to rely on a man for support and so on and so forth. Yet I would not be living the life that I am right now if not for the monetary support of my man. Do I like the fact that I have zero income of my own? No, not really, but to me it’s the far better option given I HAVE the option – to be able to raise my son as opposed to picking him up after daycare each day. I can’t imagine any job in this world making me feel more fulfilled than raising him and therefore taking care of the house and everything that goes along with ‘staying home.’ I still believe women should have equal opportunity though…and in many respects I think I personally do – it’s just the route I chose (for now) ended up being the fairly stereotypical one. One day I’ll go back to work though, unless we win the lottery! Of course, many of the stereotypical female ‘roles’ will still pertain, although that’s a topic for another day!!!

I don’t know if I’ve expressed everything I intended to here. It’s a complicated issue. I guess the bottom line is, as you said, there’s nothing wrong with mommy blogging, or any other niche blogging for that matter. It’s just important that we also recognize that there is more out there than just that.

Sep 1, 2010 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

You are always welcome to whore me out on facebook, Tonytar. Thanks, buddy!

Trista: I am not sure if the Sits Girls community is a fair representation of the female blogger demographic, either. I somehow doubt it. Although in retrospect, I could see how stay at home moms may out number moms who are working full time and doing the double shift-- just wouldn't have the spare time it takes to maintain a blog. I am going to do more investing around the blogosphere and I'll see what I can find. Glad you're digging the writing!

Chandra: I know what you mean, buddy. I think at a certain age there comes to be a lot of social pressure regarding having children. Whether it's a person who doesn't want children, a person who is having trouble conceiving, or just a person who wants children but is waiting, all scenarios have their own challenges and unique stresses among certain groups. I find that those of us without children don't tend to openly discuss our inner struggles regarding this, and it makes it a bit harder, I think, especially when surrounded by many peers who are entering that phase of life.

I am glad we're on the same verbal diarrhea wavelength. Lol at the verbal body slams comment.

Suz: I love you, Lieutenant.

Liz: This post definitely isn't a slam on stay at home moms (I totally understand why their lives are predominantly centered around their kids, and why many of them subsequently blog about their kids), nor is it a slam on stereotypically feminine stuff. Or mundane stuff. I write my fair share of stuff on seemingly mundane topics. No, what inspired this post is really the "cult" vibe you noted. You have to trust me when I say, dude, these women are hardcore. And I am not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with that, either, it was just incredibly overwhelming being bombarded with so much of the same stuff for a month straight.

Totally know what you mean about the "uneducated" thing. It's not even about being formally educated, but more so just having an understanding of what you're writing about and promoting. So many of these bloggers took the most basic, stereotypes and assumptions and ran with them. And when you have that many women promoting naive ideologies about one of the most life impacting experiences we endure, it gets a bit creepy. And no reason to apologize for your observations. If people want to stick to strict political correctness, this blog is not for them, anyway. As you said, it is what it is.

Even though you blog a lot about your family life, you regularly discuss the various pressures and struggles you endure, and how your changing roles impact your being as an individual. Etc. You're awake. Many of the women I generalize in this post seemed to be asleep. Or at least with their fingers in their ears yelling "LA LA LA LA LA."

Again, this post wasn't meant to bash the private sphere of the home or downplay the role of stay at home moms, or even domesticity.It was the powerful momentum behind this narrow vision that irked me. So hopefully everyone who reads this understands that.

I mean, seriously. I love Tupperware.

Sep 2, 2010 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterLojo

I participated in the challenge, but didn't complete all the activities. I did start reading some new blogs (like yours), but I too find that MANY mommy blogs are just... not worth my time. If nothing else, I think it's awesome that you got some really great posts out of the challenge, like this one!

I hesitate to call myself a mommy blogger. I do blog about my children sometimes. But I also am a writer, and my blog is my outlet for that right now. I think about politics, and women's issues. I volunteer for a domestic violence and sexual assault services nonprofit and think about that kind of stuff all the time. And I write about it all. I don't want to be shoved in this corner with women who write about how cute their kids are and how great swiffer sweeper is every day. Or whatever.

Sep 7, 2010 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRachael

For the help please use http://www.google.com

Sep 13, 2010 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterfriellera

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