In case you missed it over the weekend, I wrote a few thousand brutally honest words about why mommy blogging is a dying industry and the women in it should find something better to do with their lives.
In other words, I lit the deepest pits of internet hell on fire as the torches came out and my name was typed thousands of times with the @ symbol in front of it.
Like any good Saturday, ours was spent disconnected, visiting friends at their lake a few hours away, hiking and teaching the kids the patience required to catch a fish. We drove back home covered in mud, soaking up the silence of sleeping children in the backseat. I caught and replied to only a handful of the responses to my post in the patches of road where we had cell service.
I saw enough though. Enough so that when my eyes closed to fight back tears under the hot shower water at midnight, all that ran through my head was this: “What if they are right?”
What if, in being bold and truthful, I had isolated myself from my career? What if, in burning all the bridges I did, I found that I was really just burnt out? What if these other women really were truly that happy with their lives and, and found a joy I could not in writing mostly sponsored posts about the trivial parts being a mother? What if I was just not able to balance my life the way they were? What if there was something wrong with me? What if I really was just an attention seeking whore that bitched too much?
Wait. This sounded too familiar. I’d heard all these things before. All the venom spreading about me online, I’ve heard them for years, a lifetime ago in an emotionally abusive relationship. I’ve had my personality attacked and I’ve been objectified down to the core, left to feel like nothing more than a collection of female body parts and impossible expectations in every role I ever played. But that was with a man. A man who knew me intimately. Women though, in a professional context defending an inherently feminine industry, resorting to the same belittling tactics and evoking the same walk-on-eggshell response?
A little voice in my head reminded me ‘You’re tougher than this.” like it often has to do when I’m physically and emotionally exhausted and really need some fucking sleep. So I spent the next 24 hours tangled up under bedsheets until noon and getting sunburnt digging in our new garden bed.
Then I sat down with my headphones, The Civil Wars, and a giant fucking chocolate chip cookie and decided to dig through the trenches. I started with replying to the hundreds of “fuck yes, amen” messages from non-blogging readers and respected writers who agreed with my sentiments about the over-saturation of inauthenticity amongst mommy bloggers and influencer marketing trends in the advertising industry. Then I moved on to the negative threads and the dozen or so blog posts that have been published throughout the internet, comment sections sprinkled with nodding heads and defense of the exclamation mark.
And I read every comment I could find publicly available, for one reason mainly – I noticed a disturbing trend.
//The Things I Deserved To Hear?
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions while reading them below. But I’d like you to ask yourself a few questions while you do so, and again after you are finished.
- If I was a man, who wrote an honest, strongly opinionated critique of an industry in which he had years of experience, would any of these specific responses have been said as debate against the points he made?
- If you are a woman reading this, and a man said any of these things to you, would it be worse than a woman saying them?
- If these women pride themselves on being professional and positive, is their behavior justified in this specific case because they disagreed with my opinion? Why?
- How can you expect the rest of society to take women seriously, to value the opinion of any woman, if our work can be so easily tossed out as lacking credibility because she is more easily assumed to be seeking attention, emotionally unstable, or hormonal?
- When is it ok to say these things to a woman? What is the criteria that must be met in order for this type of behavior to be socially acceptable?
- Which women deserve sexism then, if you can so easily choose to use it yourselves when convenient?
Although I singled no one out in my original post – I didn’t “bully” any individuals – I did say some really harsh truths about mommy bloggers as a whole. I stand by my words, and what’s interesting to me is that even the critics and negative comments mostly started their thoughts with something along the lines of “She made some valid points, I agree with a lot of what she said about blogging, but..” and things went sharply downhill from there.
Several people missed the point entirely, lecturing me that now I’ll never be able to work with brands again, or that I’ve lost my “biggest readership” as though mommy bloggers are the only human beings consuming digital content in the world. They argued that they’ve never heard of me before, so why read what I wrote now? Point proven. Of course you wouldn’t have heard of my blog when it was just a mindless, never-ending carousel of commercials rather than genuine writing. Of course it is hypocritical that I called out the exact type of blogs I myself published, until you step outside of that box and remember that I knew that all along. I played by the mommy blogger rules, sure, but I am by nature a writer with a passion for the marketing industry, not a sorority girl turned tupperware party attendee.
I completely deserved, and welcomed healthy and heated debate (including as many swear words as you can throw my way, sure). I appreciate reading the opinions of others that varied from mine. I even respect that the things I said were taken personally – I get it, I pissed them off – so the defensive tone and instantly disliking me is more than understood and frankly, expected.
I still welcome criticism of the points I made. I’d love for someone to tell me why I’m wrong, and that the influencer marketing industry will thrive longterm rather than collapse into itself. I’d absolutely deserve to hear that in response to the points I made.
I deserved to be told that you think I am wrong, because you love your blog and you disagree with the way that I write. I deserved to be completely ignored, even.
But what I did not deserve was to have my voice tossed out the window simply because I am a woman.
None of these things would have been said about a man, his personal life, his emotional stability, or his ability to parent. Not a single one.
//Things that women have said to and about me:
“Attention whore much?”
-Katie Sanchez, wife and mother of 1, KatieTalksAbout.com
“You demand respect and yet you treat others this way? No wonder you never got far. Ugh. You’re a sick sick person and I feel horrible for your children.”
“If her kids are being raised by someone who has no self respect or respect for others, I feel bad for them. I said nothing to offend the children. Respect is a two way street. If she continues in this path her children will not respect her.”
-Maria Briggs, wife and step-mom to 3, TheMammaHomemaker.com
“You come across whiney, jealous, and insecure… You are miserable in some part of your life and you just want to make everyone else miserable around you. And you’re hormonal. I mean I get it.”
“I think baby #4 is messing with her normal human brain. The part of it that tells her it isn’t nice to call other people names just because she is an unhappy person.”
“She wasn’t being honest. She was being whiney because she had indigestion or some shit.”
“Don’t play the victim in a drama you started honey. And FYI – I was totally imitating your post. And have made that abundantly clear. And it wasn’t in a flattering way.”
– Brandi Best-Fletcher, mother of 5 and step-mom to 5 more, LifeWithFiveMonkies.com
“I think she is jealous, hormonal, and just plain unhappy.”
– Karen Eidson, 63 year old grandma to 6, FabGrandma.com
“I kinda just want to know if this whole flipping out thing is just your hormones talking? Like really?”
“..it seems to me that after all the drama you have had lately you should be more worried about that baby you are growing, those kids who you moved across the country whose dad is not in the picture..”
– Lisa Sauter, wife and mother of 1, GoofballMommy.com
“I think Josi Denise is not in a good place […] maybe a mitigating circumstance?”
“She’s pregnant. Maybe it’s the hormones. IDK.”
-Jill Robbins, mom of 3, RippedJeansAndBifocals.com
“I have no idea who you are, but kiss my ass.”
“We aren’t defending ourselves. We’re doing very well. We’re laughing your insecurity and stupidity. You’re showing your ass.”
“STFU, dumbass. Seriously, this is the biggest load of shit I’ve read in ages.”
“Honey, our reaction is strong because you’re trying to throw a whole industry under the bus when your real issue is you suck.”
“Or some don’t allow comments because they don’t have the balls to get called out on their nonsense.”
“It’s so adorable how you try to be condescending and just end up sounding ridiculous.”
– Kelby Hartson Carr, CEO/Founder of Type A Parent the “world’s premier conference, influencer network and community for mom bloggers” with “highly influential, business-minded and professional bloggers”
Cat Lincoln, CEO Clever Girls Collective: “No one else thinks it’s hysterical that she started in 2013? HAHAHAHAHAHA – I’m so glad she could get in at the start /sarcasmfont”
Kelby Carr, CEO Type A: “Pahahahahaha bless her heart.”
Cat: “At least she’s a fast learner”
“Also, I have a feeling she won’t be “bothered” by a lot of sponsored opportunities ever again. Just a feeling.”
Me: “Hmmm… I wonder how the screenshot of this thread would make all the new bloggers feel when they are trying to decide whether your blogging conferences and courses are worth it? Don’t pay me, I have no advice for you except that you should’ve started a decade ago. Good luck!”
Other blogger: “Seriously. You’re talking to a bunch of bloggers and business owners who are really supportive, do really well, and employ a lot of people. But when we’re being attacked as a group, we back each other up.”
-Cat Lincoln, CEO and Founder of Clever Girls Collective “A respected market professional […] Founder and CEO of Clever Girls, an esteemed influencer marketing agency specializing in connecting top brands with influential women online.”
(I’ll preface this one: I thankfully do not struggle with depression, nor have I ever written about it. Spreading lies about someone’s mental health on the internet, including an entire blog post dedicated to me, because you can’t accept that they have a differing opinion or they don’t like the same things and people as you? How much lower can you go? After 50+ comments, I eventually chose to block this woman from my social media profiles.)
“Don’t play the victim when this is exactly what you wanted […] I’ve already said I agreed with your points, but you presented it in such a desperate way I just feel bad for you.”
“I see now your other post came from a place of hurt and self-hate, maybe even a place of jealousy because so many others seem to have their shit together.”
“I wasn’t being condescending. I understand more after reading about your struggles with depression, adhd, etc. I thought you were being hateful, but you’re just hurting. People lash out when they’re hurting.”
“I’m sorry you’re in such a dark place. I hope you’re able to look back on this soon and realize how wrong you were, trying to drag so many down just because you felt down.”
“We are standing up for those that are being bullied by her. […] Don’t play the victim after being the attacker.”
“I read some of her other posts and kind of understand why she’s so hateful in this post. Her last post talked a lot about self doubt and depression. She needed to hurt others as much as she’s hurting. […] I hope she tries to do the right thing by reflecting before she writes anything else.”
Jen Grenier, mother on Facebook in reply to Sadie: “That worriers me that she is unstable like that and trying to influence a group. This is why we have to take bullies with a grain of salt. I feel bad that she is hurting. I hope she gets the help she needs. This was clearly a lashing out/cry for help…and all those applauding her bullying are not helping.” Sadie: “Agreed.”
-Sadie Lankford, mother of 3, SlapDashMom.com
“…just a show of how badly her life is falling apart. “No ones husband can love them that much cuz mine left” type sh*t…[…] Jo, I hope somebody hugs you…soon!”
-Yah’Zahra Adira, nspiyahdlife.com
“She discovered that bitching about her ex got her a viral post..so she’s bitching about a larger group this time.”
– Jenn Chapman Hethcoat, mother of 3, SuperJenn.com
“Shame she never seemed to […] make a choice to NOT whore herself.”
Kelby Carr: “Pretty much.”
-Erin Kotechi Vest, currently disabled, formerly QueenofSpainBlog.com, Social Media Strategist for BlogHer, SheKnows Media “with a mission of women inspiring other women […] revolutionizing the publishing industry”
“I honestly feel for her now that I’m learning more of what’s going on in her life. I bet she will delete this post and go about trying to be a better mom blogger after the drama dies down.”
-Danielle Faust, FitNoire.com
If women perpetuate this type of sexism amongst themselves, how do they not deserve it everywhere else it may inconvenience them?
Oh, and no, you will most certainly not find me trailing breadcrumbs back to the mommy blogger world.