Reviews of Homeward Bound

“3.5 out of 4 stars” - People Magazine                                                               “The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories … into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing.” -The New Republic                                                       "[P]rovocatively explores what the movement says about the role of women in society today.” – The New Yorker                                                                       "I unreservedly loved it…It’s empathetic and funny and thoughtful and smart, and I encourage all of you to read it."– The Hairpin                                                         “Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle – family farming, canning, crafting, can, without sacrificing feminism’s hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when ‘people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.’” - ELLE                                                               “[I]ntelligent and insightful...essential reading.” - Christianity Today                                                       “A lively and perceptive reporter… a valuable and astute assessment.”—Publishers Weekly                                                         “A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”— Kirkus Reviews

What is New Domesticity?

This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex & the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?                                                                                     My book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, which explores New Domesticity in greater depth, will be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

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The secret lives of mommy bloggers and their anonymous haters

 

via c-ville.com

In C-Ville, Charlottesville, Virginia’s alt weekly, writer Marissa Hermanson takes a long look at the mom blogger phenomenon – its origins, its appeal (both for bloggers and readers), and its detractors. (Full disclosure: I’m quoted in the article). Especially interesting in Hermanson’s look at the snarkiness and critique mom bloggers often face:

The idea of women sharing their domestic activities, family matters, and social interests on the Internet may sound liberating and empowering, creating a domestic dialogue that never existed before. But the mommy blogging culture isn’t all sunshine and cinnamon toast. A whole world of snark has grown up around it that, in its worst moments, involves cases of Internet bullying and online voyeurism.

In particular, Hermanson looks at a Charlottesville blogger named Kath Younger whose food, nutrition and parenthood blog is so hated by some it has earned an entire parody blog mocking its alleged smugness.

Women like Younger, who have hugely popular lifestyle blogs incur many forms of judgment, often experiencing personal attacks in their blog’s comment sections or sent to their e-mail inboxes. The rise of mediated public forums like getoffmyinternets.com (GOMI) have raised the stakes dramatically, amplifying critique into a performance art of its own.

To me, this raises some really interesting questions about the nature of bloggers: are they private citizens, or public figures? If a blogger is simply an amateur, blogging to show off her baby to distant relatives and share her coconut cake recipes with friends, critiquing her seems nasty and personal, a form of outright bullying. But if a blogger, like, say The Pioneer Woman, is more of a Martha Stewart-esque businesswoman who simply uses a lifestyle blog as a tool in her business empire, it’s easier to see her as fair game along the line of any other public figure. But many bloggers fall into a gray area. They’re ordinary civilians, but they’re carefully showcasing their lives to meet a public goal: making blog ad revenue, promoting their writing, angling for a cookbook deal. Is it OK to critique or parody them in public forums?

Thoughts? Who has spent some guilty (or not guilty) time on GOMI?

7 comments to The secret lives of mommy bloggers and their anonymous haters

  • I’ll admit to reading GOMI, though I’ve never posted. There’s a similar site for YouTube “gurus.” I find GOMI is mostly interested in calling popular bloggers out on being shady or inauthentic. Sure, it gets a little nasty sometimes, but it’s not really different than gossiping about someone you know in real life who is making their life out to be something it’s not. As a fledgling lifestyle blogger myself I would definitely hate to end up on GOMI, but I don’t see that happening since I’m not trying to present my life as something it isn’t.
    And as far as bloggers being public figures, I think if they are earning any sort of income from their blog then they are absolutely fair game.

  • Katy

    I think the most interesting moment of the article, for me, came when one of the Mommy Bloggers mentioned having to patrol GOMI at least on occasion because people started posting personal information that would allow people to track her family in real life. Moms who blog about their kids have to worry about protecting their kids’ privacy and safety – and the idea of part of that having to be reading through their own trolls to make sure no one has figured out where they go to pre-school and posted it online as (hopefully unintended) molester-bait.

    I don’t think I’ve ever thought of the Mommy Bloggers as so intensely vulnerable until that moment. After all, if you don’t want to post a certain aspect of you and your child’s life, then you have the power to keep it to yourself. If you do not want to expose yourself to a torrent of judgment about your parenting, turn off your site’s comments or don’t go on GOMI. But if you’re worried about the safety of your child, that can be taken away as an option.

  • I have spent some time reading GOMI, and I don’t think they are all the haters they are made out to be. I think there is some constructive criticism , but they also don’t hold back which can be confronting. I believe a lot of members are blog readers, who don’t feel they can leave a comment on a blog without it being deleted, and readers who became disillusioned with the blog they read for whatever reason.

  • I don’t read GOMI, mostly because it just seems kind of mean-spirited to me, although I did visit it a few times in the past. I’m not saying that the site is “mean” (FFS, we’re all adults here, lol), but I don’t like the tone of it, and while there are bloggers that I’m not particularly a fan of, nitpicking their blog posts until Sunday, like on GOMI, isn’t very appealing to me.

  • I find this really intriguing. I have a guilty pleasure habit of looking through mommy blogs (Rockstar Diaries, Nat the fat rat, Bleubird) as well as more than a few lifestyle blogs and I find that whenever I happen to scroll down through the comments there are plenty of the happy “good job” praises but also quite a bit of criticism posts as well.

    I’m not really sure how I feel about it.

    On the one hand, you’re absolutely right, these women (and men) have placed themselves out there for the purpose of earning money, so they are indeed a business and businesses are open to critique. However, these people have made their lives their businesses. I think this is something that they have to consider when moving forward with their posting. While I certainly hope that this is an consideration they put some time into, I don’t think they realized how open they were making themselves. In that vein, I’m also not sure they realize how much this could effect their children down the line either.

    I’ve spent a few sad (and terribly guilty) hours looking through GOMI and I’m kind of at a loss for how I feel about it. In one sense, it’s absolutely negative in a lot of ways, the writer does make fun of clothing choices and content. However, there are also posts that are valid critiques of what these bloggers are saying. Pointing out inaccuracies and opinions that I think are indeed important to know about the person one may be spending a good amount of time reading about. It did open my eyes to some very disturbing things that a few of the people I’ve read have said. These sorts of things would immediately dissuade me from further conversation with someone “in real life” but yet, I still read their blogs. Agree with Tammy in that I feel it is indeed mean-spirited, but perhaps it’s also something that in necessary to keep a line of criticism open for those instances when something is said or published that is, in fact, totally wrong or truly character reveling. I’ve had many a moment where I’ve compared my life to that of a blogger and found myself coming up short, I’ve had to stop and realize that these people are editing themselves into a tiny pretty catalog looking world that makes them money. Seeing through those cracks into serious flaws in logic or outright backward views makes me feel that accountability isn’t such a bad thing. If that makes sense.

    • Emily

      Totally. I think the criticism can definitely go overboard and be too cruel, but parody is the price of being famous, and it helps keep people honest.
      And I wouldn’t feel too guilty about reading GOMI! You’re definitely not alone ;)

  • Interesting article! I had never heard of GOMI before…I’m not a mom & don’t ready Mommy blogs. So! I went to check it out!

    I find it disconcerting that the writers behind the site call out other bloggers while remaining anonymous themselves. That could be for security, but I find it a bit of a double standard. There is a blog I read…or used to…called The Mad Stationer. She basically does the same thing. She is anonymous because she works in our industry, so she feels protecting her identity is crucial. Understood. She takes a lot of heat for that. Probably deservingly even though so many of her points are right on.

    Should someone be able to vent? Yes! Do you have the right to disclose what you want? Well, yes…you control what is revealed to the world when you hit the publish button. You are therefore shaping how other people see you. And, as the commenters here have discussed, everyone has their reasons for disclosing (or not) the things they post about. The first post on GOMI today is about a blogger who is separated from her husband. I don’t know the blog or the writer of it, but I think it’s a little callous to make fun of her situation. I’m sure, as Jamie points out above, this blogger didn’t mean to open herself up to this criticism, but I’m also sure that when she started posting about her kids & family life that she didn’t anticipate posting about the dissolving of her marriage.

    I don’t know that I’m adding to the dialogue here…I’m trying! Perhaps I need to be a bit more familiar with the subject matter or I’m just in complete agreement with Tammy’s comment above. I’m all for keeping each other honest, but don’t throw stones at others behind some disguise. That’s not very honest.

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