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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mediate Gender: Performing New Momism in the Blogosphere (Part 3)


            Douglas and Michaels (2004) wrote about the phenomenon, new momism, which is occurring in mediated representations on women. New momism can be simply defined by saying "no woman can be complete or fulfilled until she has children" (p. 4). However according to second wave feminists, no woman can be complete without working in a professional field. Motherhood has become the need to, not only work full time jobs, but also come home and preform all of the roles that women traditionally perform. New momism both supported and challenged by mommy bloggers. It is supported by mommy bloggers that present their lives in an idealized manner. They never speak ill of their children or their husbands. However, there is also a movement to portray motherhood as exactly the opposite manner. They talk about how much they wish that they could have kept their job when they had children. They represent their children as parasites that cannot do anything right. In short they present motherhood as a dystopian society as opposed to those that present it as a utopia.
            Both representations do not fully represent motherhood. At its heart, new momism is about fulfilling women. It is about finding the balance between professionalism and momism. While much less common there are representations of this as well in the blogosphere. These representations give a different version of new momism and motherhood in general. Through their autobiographical blogs they "are creating a different picture of motherhood to what we see in the mainstream media. "Instead of the vision of the loving mother, we see women who are frazzled by the demands of their newborn baby, who have no clue what to do when their child gets sick, who suffer from postpartum depression and whose hormones rage uncontrollably" (Lopez, 2007, 732). Although this image is different than the image of new momism that Douglas and Michaels portray of new momism it is fundamentally the same.

Utopian Momism: Nie Nie Dialogues
            Stephanie Nielson started blogging near the end of 2004. Within only a few years she had a highly popular blog where she discussed her children, husband, and their lives. However, in 2008 she suffered a tragic plane accident with her husband and was burned over 80% of her body. Normally this would break any persons will. However, Stephanie used it to inspire other people. She travels around the country speaking at conferences on dealing with disappointment and adversity or on body image and self worth. On her blog she presents her life as she presents her accident: a blessing. In a recent post she describes one of her children's swearing problems. Problems such as this have faced many women in the past. However, it does not bother Stephanie. She breezes through it without breaking a sweat. Even though her child has an imperfection she knows that he will overcome it. Even more, her children's minor imperfections are joyous to her (Nielson). She is a seemingly perfect mother notwithstanding all of her heartache. As inspiring as this representation of motherhood can be, it can also be disheartening for people who have not suffered as much as her yet still complain about little things.

Dystopian Momism: Dooce
            While Stephanie Nielson views motherhood as a blessing in everyway, Heather Armstrong, author of the blog dooce.com, presents motherhood in a highly dystopian way. Her blog is definitely one of the oldest blogs authored by a woman online today (she's been blogging for over then years). In 2005 she became popular enough that her husband quit his job, making her the breadwinner of the family (Armstrong, About Me). Yet even with her success, she is overly critical of anyone claiming to have a happy family life. Her children are represented in a much different way than Nielson's children. In a recent series of posts Armstrong chronicles her daily schedule for her audience. Within the first fifteen minutes she's already telling her kids to go back to bed, complains about her daughter's obsession with her stuff animals, and her dogs usual excitement in the morning (Armstrong, First Fifteen Minutes, 2011). This is far Douglas and Michaels's image of new momism. In fact, it is more closely related to second wave feminists that wanted women's liberation from traditional roles.

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