I got all fired up in an angry sort of way when a handful of my
friends colleagues shared a link on Facebook to this puff piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled, condescendingly enough, The Mommy Business Trip. I knew there was going to be more of a problem when the lead sentence was this:
Katherine Stone, a 43-year-old mother and wife from Atlanta, wants to leave her husband and children.
You see, Katherine Stone is almost single-handedly responsible for creating and maintaining the largest online resource for women with postpartum depression, and other maternal mental health issues, Postpartum Progress. Her blog on Babble is called Something Fierce, because she always harnesses her ferocity to tackle things that matter. She is the original warrior mom… but the WSJ article makes her sound like a desperate housewife.
The entire article focuses on Mom 2.0 – and by extension, any women’s blogging conference – as an escape from the responsibilities of home and family. It focuses on the parties, the mini-bars, the swag brands woo us with… and completely ignores the education and actual work that gets done while we’re there. The “journalist” who wrote the piece clearly doesn’t see blogging as “work,” although I think she needs to take a good look in the mirror. Even the session titles picked out for the article grossly misrepresent the whole of the conference: “How to Keep Blogging After It’s All Been Blogged” and “Help! My 9 Year Old Wants to Be on Instagram!”
On her trip, she will listen to panels addressing issues of concern to mothers, network with other bloggers, and stay in a hotel room that someone else will keep tidy…Event planners, networking organizations, travel agents and consumer-goods marketers are targeting these women by sponsoring conferences and conventions. They have figured out a simple way to make them happy: Give them a reason to go on a business trip.
Yes, the only reason I go to a conference is to stay in a room where I don’t have to clean up after myself, sip mint juleps, and let brands throw swag at me. ::eyeroll:: It has nothing to do with the fact that I want to stay current with the important advances in my industry, or the value of face time with colleagues you only to get to communicate virtually with for the rest of the year. It has nothing to do with my self-imposed duty of sharing what I learn with the people who could not attend, or recap for those who didn’t retain everything from every session they attended, in the form of liveblogging. I run myself more ragged during a conference than I do on a normal work day, and I know many other bloggers do exactly the same thing.
Somehow, no one seems to write this sort of article about NMX or SXSW and all of the men who attend simply to escape the demands of work and family. Why not give equal coverage? Surely, the men who go to Las Vegas for NMX are only there for the alcohol, the gambling, and the booth babes, right?
Did you catch the horribly drawn graphic that goes along with the article? Here’s a tiny version to give you the general idea:
There’s a mom sleeping in, moms dancing, moms taking selfies, a mom watching TV in her hotel room, and a mom raiding the mini-bar. Where’s the conference room full of moms attending speaker panels? Where are the moms exchanging business cards? Where are the moms on laptops learning during a hands-on tech session? Oh right. We’re just moms. It’s so cute that we think what we do is work. Never mind that our work actually gets us featured on national television or radio, or gets us invited to speak privately with the President or members of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“Traditional media” needs to stop painting female bloggers who happen to be moms as silly caricatures meant to belittle us and dismiss us as unimportant except for our pocketbooks.