It’s been two weeks. My newer, hotter, more authentically me’er blog is suddenly making me uncomfortable. It’s all sex sex sex sensual massage cleavage lookit me I’m so trampy I HEART THE PATRIARCHY blah blah blah.
Ewwwwww. Who chose this brand? Who’s brilliant idea was this? I’m going to fire my people. That agency sucks. ass.
I have no people. I have a genius graphic designer, but I don’t really “have” her because we’re both pretty clear that arrangements like that aren’t legal OR ethical.
So it is me. This brand is alllllllll me.
And I’m getting lots of feedback on my approach.
For example, when I posted a picture of my actual – not existential – cleavage, some weird gorgeous degenerate with great cleavage and a wardrobe full of skimpy shirts (I know because I may or may not see them daily because she may or may not live downstairs) emailed me (instead of coming upstairs?) to lovingly, gently, stridently encourage/command me to stop “prostituting your cleavage”.(Definitional problem. I am not getting PAID. Does that make it better or worse? And hello, pot.)
About the site redesign and sexy new brand, though, mostly I get a belly laugh and “YES! It is so you!”
Yeah, it is. No word of a lie.
I’m all about The Cleavage and The Sex and The Money and The Thinking (usually about The Cleavage and The Sex and The Money…hence the accusation of virtual prostitution?).
My brand is therefore authentic, and authentically problematic.
I want to tell you why, complete with case studies, but I’m getting irritated cautioned by an inner dialogue with my imaginary Gretchen Rubin.
In case you missed it, the real Gretchen Rubin reminded me not to be snarky critical of other writers and bloggers (but not Chris Brown, it is totally okay to criticize him because he’s not even a real person and I might be putting words in her mouth) because one day I’m going to go to Blogher and be wildly snubbed by all my imaginary friends (again, words in mouth, maybe). Also it is just wrong.
Gretchen Rubin is my Jiminy Cricket.
Hold on while I put Gretchen/Jiminy in the bell jar. I mean s/he’s right, I know s/he’s right, but there is a point here that needs to be made.
The Bloggess (Jenny Agita) and Dooce (Heather Armstrong) and the (former) Childless Whore (Heather Havrilesky) and all of us pretty solidly* middle class white women bloggers use our hot-stuffishness as window dressing. It gives us an edge. You think I’m so surburban soccer mom-ish but really I’m a whore! I can call myself a whore because no one else would dare, ever! Because I’m fucking respectable, y’all!
See, that’s it.
If I wasn’t a good girl, I couldn’t be an unrepentant bad girl.
Like, if I was an actual sex worker – or just less privileged – this blog would be getting a different kind of feedback.
- Which means I’m appropriating scandal to give myself ‘edge’ while insulating myself from the real consequences and criticism that would be directed at me if I were anything other than who I am: white, white collared, and middle class.
- Which also means, quite possibly, that I am rhetorically reinforcing the “middle class white mothers, good” and “sex workers and/or non-middle class un-white mothers, bad” thing.
(Imaginary) Gretchen Rubin/Jiminy Cricket has a few pressingly urgent things to say:
GR/JC: You might want to make it clear that you don’t think Dooce and the Bloggess and (former) Childless Whore are willfully contributing to the marginalization of sex workers and that they just run around calling themselves offensive, sexist names and that’s the extent of their contribution to the world. For one thing, you fucking love them. Also there’s a whole school of thought/action about reclaiming slurs to reduce their power. And these women are ridiculously funny and imaginative, creative writers. And, if you’re not going to say so on principle, be pragmatic. They have cult followings. Someone will HURT you. And please please please leave Naomi Dunford out of this discussion. She has a shaved head.
GR/JC: You should also mention that Heather Armstrong writes about post-partum depression (up yours, Mr. Cruise!) and brushes with cancer. She is a (anti?) cancer ambassador. She writes about real, messy life and all the scary points and makes it amusing. In short, she’s an uberbitchy public service announcement.
GR/JC: Heather Havrilesky –
[Kelly interjects: my formerly slutty married friend Heather is frank and bitchy and pro-alcohol and in shock that she has two kids too! It’s a trend. Raw, funny, sexy, begrudgingly domestic women are always called Heather! Did you guys go to Catholic school, too? OMG there was a MOVIE about the three of them when they were teenagers! Except in the movie they were bitches. OMG IT WAS ABOUT THEM!]
GR/JC: (Sighs) – Heather Havrilesky makes TV intelligent. If that’s not a PSA, I don’t know what is.
GR/JC: Jenny Agita wrote about attending a Planned Parenthood press conference which implicitly means she is a gender rights revolutionary, worships Joan Walsh, makes fun of republicans/her husband, all while living in Texas. She’s bravery incarnate. She’s a fucking hero.
(The mouth on my imaginary Gretchen Rubin! She’s such a bad ass!)
(After just typing JC repeatedly, I realized that Jiminy Cricket, an official conscience – the blue fairy dubbed him so! – has the same initials as Jesus Christ.
As does John Chow.
To recap: I’m not entirely comfortable about copping a little cachet and fleshing out my online identity based on a sexist, pandering-to-the-patriarchy, lady in the street/freak in the bed formulation.
And, sometimes, I think this is what the mommy/drinking/blogging/whoring thing is about. We use alcohol and sex as short hand for youth and freedom. We use it to indicate that suburban, middle-class mommydom hasn’t paved over our multifaceted identities. We use it to say, I’m still a person, dammit.
I worry about this.
I even worry about being unapologetically, publicly sexual herein (how unapologetic is that, really?) because maybe one day there will be a child custody battle and my blog will be used as evidence as to my unrepentant sluttery and my very bad children will be taken from me. Unlikely, because who would want them?** but you know, I worry.
Also: I’m not married so my adventures don’t have “acceptable” stamped all over them. Like, it is okay to be pretend to be trampy within the context of a heterosexual, legally-binding union, but not okay to ACTUALLY be trampy (ie unmarried, or even worse, DIVORCED, aka me).
Take, for example, The Bloggess and heroin. She can write about heroin pantsuits (and I’m sooooo glad she did) but I’m a little more careful about this sort of thing because I’m not married. Seriously. It is not a huge leap, in our cultural imagination, from selfish-don’t-need-a-man-manhating single mama to unrestrained intravenous drug user and probable cleavage-prostituter. So I’m careful about the pharmaceutical thing.
To recap: I am off the meds. Entirely.
To recap, again: I’m worried that my blog/brand has strayed a little from my noble intentions. I was kind of aiming for Mae West with a graduate degree, if she had kids, remorselessly gained a lot of weight and lived in the suburbs. Sexxxxxy.
Instead, I’m wondering: is mommy blogging – and my brand? – about acceptable, respectable, middle-class, grown up girls gone wild?
Gawd, I hope not.
But if it is, I hope it makes money.
It probably will. I’ve heard there is a successful franchise dedicated to this very idea. Less the ‘grown up’ bit.
* I’m tenuously, nail-breakingly, clutching-at-branches-whilst-falling-off-the-socioeconomic-cliff middle class.
** I didn’t really mean that. I’m sure lots of people would want them. Their father, for example, feels quite strongly about them. I do too. I even want another one, to replace the bad one. There is an exchange policy, yes?