Autobiography in Real Time: A Genre Analysis of Personal Mommy Blogging

Abstract

‘Mommy blogging’ is a phenomenon of the blog world, attracting vast numbers of authors and readers. This paper grounds an understanding of personal mommy blogs in rhetorical genre theory to account for the opportunities and attractions of writing about mothering online. Analysis will focus on a constellation of texts in orbit around an article about mommy blogging published in the Globe and Mail, a nationally-distributed Canadian newspaper. The article directs mommy bloggers’ attention and critical energy toward explicitly articulating community norms and asserting the values that undergird their own practices in the face of hostile commentary that derides their life writing. The fact of the controversy speaks to the contested nature of mommy blogging—its boundaries, that is, are not fully established, its practices not universally accepted beyond those who practice it, its texts not acknowledged as part of a legitimate parenting or writing discourse. Mommy bloggers, though, have attained working consensus on the boundaries of the genre; a form of autobiography in real time, this writing is purposive and deliberate social engagement, a creative as well as interpersonal practice that mitigates the assorted ills and celebrates the particular joys of contemporary mothering.

Bibliographic citation

Morrison, A. (2010). Autobiography in Real Time: A Genre Analysis of Personal Mommy Blogging. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 4(2), article 5. Retrieved from https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/4239

Keywords

blogging; mothering; autobiography; genre

Full Text:

HTML

References

Show references Hide references

Arendell, T. (2000). Conceiving and investigating motherhood: The decade's scholarship. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1192-1207.

Bailey, L. (1999). Refracted selves? A study of changes in self-identity in the transition to motherhood. Sociology, 33(2), 335-352.

Baoill, A. (2004). Weblogs and the public sphere. In L.J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/

Berlant, L. (2008). The female complaint: The unfinished business of sentimentality in american culture. Durham, NC: Duke UP.

Bury, R. (2005). Cyberspaces of their own: Female fandoms online. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Connors, C. [Her Bad Mother] (2008, April 23). Crazy narcissistic exploitative zombie-pimp mom-bloggers, unite and take over. Her Bad Mother. Retrieved from http://herbadmother.com/2008/04/

Cumberland, S. (2003). Private uses of cyberspace: Women, desire, and fan culture. In D. Thornburn & H. Jenkins (Eds.), Rethinking media change: The aesthetics of transition (pp. 261-279). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

De Laat, P. B. (2008). Online diaries: Reflections on trust, privacy, and exhibitionism. Ethics and Information Technology, 10(1), 57-69.

Eckler, R. (2007). Wiped! Life with a pint-sized dictator. New York, NY: Villard.

Edwards, M. E. (2002). Education and occupations: Reexamining the conventional wisdom about later first births among American mothers. Sociological Forum, 17(3), 423-443.

Fowler, C., & Lee, A. (2004). Re-writing motherhood: Researching women's experiences of learning to mother for the first time. The Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing: A Quarterly Publication of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, 22(2), 39-44.

Frow, J. (2005). Genre. New York, NY: Routledge.

Gaughran-Perez, T. [Sweetney] (2008, April 23). Mom pimps r us. Sweetney. Retrieved from http://www.sweetney.com/sweetney/2008/04/

Graham-Scherer, K. [Don Mills Diva] (2008, April 23). Lovers, haters, cretins, and zombified pimps. Don Mills Diva: Take a Walk on the Child Side. Retrieved from http://www.blogher.com/frame.php

Gore, A. (2001). Introduction. In A. Gore & B. Lavender (Eds.), Breeder: Real life stories from the new generation of mothers (pp. xi-xiv). Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.

Gore, A., & Lavender, B. (2001). Breeder: Real life stories from the new generation of mothers. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.

Gurak, L. J., & Antonijevic, S. (2008). The psychology of blogging: You, me, and everyone in between. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(1), 60-68.

Hare-Mustin, R. T. (1998). Family change and gender differences: Implications for theory and practice. Family Relations, 37(1), 36-41.

Heisler, J. M., & Ellis, J. B. (2008). Motherhood and the construction of ''mommy identity'': Messages about motherhood and face negotiation. Communication Quarterly, 56(4), 445-467.

Herring, S. C., Kouper, I., Scheidt, L. A., & Wright, E. (2004). Women and children last: The discursive construction of weblogs. In L. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/women_and_children.html

Herring, S. C., Scheidt, L. A., Bonus, S., & Wright, E. (2005). Weblogs as a bridging genre. Information, Technology & People, 18(2), 142-171.

Howard, C. (2007).Introduction: The whole motherhood thing. In C. Howard (Ed.), Between interruptions: 30 women tell the truth about motherhood (pp. 13-20). Toronto: Key Porter Books.

Jackson, M. (2002). The mother zone. Toronto: Random House.

Kennedy, H. (2003). Technobiography: Researching lives, online and off. Biography, 26(1), 120-139.

Killoran, J. (2003). The gnome in the backyard and other public figurations: Genres of self-presentation on personal home pages. Biography, 26(1), 66-83.

Kitzmann, A. (2003). That different place: Documenting the self within online environments. Biography, 26(1), 48-65.

Ko, H. C., & Feng-Yang, K. (2009). Can blogging enhance subjective well-being through self-disclosure? CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(1), 75-79.

Kotecki Vest, E. [Queen of Spain] (2008). About the queen. Queen of Spain. Retrieved from http://queenofspainblog.com/all-about-the-queen/

Kroska, A., & Elman, C. (2009). Change in attitudes about employed mothers: Exposure, interests, and gender ideology discrepancies. Social Science Research, 38(2), 366-382.

Lamott, A. (2005). Operating instructions: A diary of my son’s first year. New York, NY: Anchor Books

Marshall, J. L., Godfrey, M., & Renfrew, M. J. (2007). Being a 'good mother': Managing breastfeeding and merging identities. Social Science & Medicine, 65(10), 2147-2159.

Martin, K. A. (2003). Giving Birth like a Girl. Gender and Society, 17(1), 54-72.

Mathews, T. J., S., M., & Hamilton, B. E. (2009). NCHS Data Brief 21—Delayed Childbearing: More Women are Having their First Child Later in Life. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db21.pdf

McKay, A. (2007). Motherhood Unplugged. In C. Howard (Ed.), Between interruptions: 30 women tell the truth about motherhood (pp. 35-41). Toronto: Key Porter Books.

Mercer, R, T. (2004). Becoming a mother versus maternal role attainment. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 36(3), 226-232.

Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as Social Action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70, 151-67.

Miller, C. R., & Shepherd, D. (2004). Blogging as social action: A genre analysis of the weblog. In L.J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/ blogging_as_social_action...

Morrison, A. (2007). Blogs and blogging: Texts and practice. In R. Siemens & S. Schriebman (Eds.), Companion to Digital Literary Studies (pp. 369-387). Oxford: Blackwell.

Morrison, A. (2010, July). Hiding in the Crowd: The Intimate Public of Mommy Blogging. International Auto/Biography Association Conference, Sussex, England.

Paris, R., & Helson, R. (2002). Early mothering experience and personality change. Journal of Family Psychology, 16(2), 172-214.

Pearce, T. (2008, April 22). No, I fine. I put pee-pee in the toilet. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology

Savage, D. (2001). Foreword. In A. Gore & B. Lavender (Eds.), Breeder: Real life stories from the new generation of mothers (pp. vii-ix). Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.

Serfaty, V. (2004). Online diaries: Towards a structural approach. Journal of American Studies, 38, 457-71.

Smith, J. (1991). Conceiving selves: A case study of changing identities during the transition to motherhood. Journal Of Language And Social Psychology, 10(4), 225-243.

Sorapure, M. (2003). Screening moments, scrolling lives: Diary writing on the web. Biography, 26(1), 1-23.

Statistics Canada (2010, April 23). Mother’s Day … by the Numbers. Retrieved from http://www42.statcan.ca/smr08/2010/

Statistics Canada (2008). Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada: 2005 and 2006. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-209-x.

Stefanone, M. A., & Jang, C. Y. (2007). Writing for friends and family: The interpersonal nature of blogs. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 123.

Valkenberg, P. M., Schouten, A. P., & Peter, J. (2005). Adolescents’ identity experiments on the internet. New Media and Society, 7(3), 383-402.

Walter, C. A. (1989). The timing of motherhood: The challenge to social workers. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 6(3), 231-244.

Wei, C. (2004). Formation of norms in a blog community. In L.J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/formation_of_norms.html