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:
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 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.