Comments on: What I learned from blogging: authority, essentialism, and motherhood http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:05:38 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Mama Tried: A Queer Mother's Day Celebration - Tenured Radical - The Chronicle of Higher Education http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-1454728 Sun, 12 May 2013 15:53:43 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-1454728 [...] of motherhood? Historiann, that’s who! For a long time she maddened the maternal hordes by refusing to say whether she was a mother or not. Finally one of those routine and terrifying childhood illnesses prompted the big reveal.  And [...]

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By: How Will I Know How To (Mis)Treat You If I Don’t Know What You Are? « tressiemc http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-1044516 Mon, 25 Jun 2012 05:41:07 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-1044516 [...] don’t think people deserve to necessarily know such things. A friend forwarded me a link to this blog where the writer does a much better job than I of explaining why that is [...]

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By: Why I had to skip the Berks : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-836347 Sat, 11 Jun 2011 15:39:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-836347 [...] many of you readers know, I haven’t disclosed my parental status previously by design, although I think some of you have guessed–the Sesame Street YouTube clips, the discussions [...]

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By: Blogging, Motherhood, Essentialism (Historiann style) : Kelly J Baker http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-795334 Mon, 28 Feb 2011 17:11:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-795334 [...] has an excellent post up about her refusal to adopt parent or non-parent status as a blogger. The comments section are worth a look for all of [...]

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-795138 Mon, 28 Feb 2011 05:57:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-795138 @Historiann, well you’re not anonymous so if you blogged about your kids, if you had any, it could make them uncomfortable.

I’d never thought about it, does she or doesn’t she, but upon reflection it’s more likely you have them. Married at 23 or so to someone now well employed, both now around 40 or so … you could well have found time to have kids, and many would have. Also, you refer to your husband but also to your family sometimes, so you could have kids.

But I favor the coyness about it, the desire not to have a persona who is feverishly “balancing work and family.” Also, in most places I spend time, it is so normal to have kids that people, even women, don’t let their parent identity overtake their professional one the way it seems to do so much in the US.

I don’t see the not mentioning of kids as a way of blending in with men – they talk about kids – I see it as maintaining an autonomous identity and also leaving your kids some kind of breathing space.

For kids, not having every fiber of their mother’s being wrapped up in the idea that she is their mother, is so important.

*

[On breast feeding -- what about all those wet nurses back in the day? I thought there were all sorts of women who couldn't nurse for various reasons, didn't have milk, were doing something else ... ?]

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-795133 Mon, 28 Feb 2011 05:40:18 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-795133 @Historiann, well you’re not anonymous so if you blogged about your kids, if you had any, it could make them uncomfortable.

I’d never thought about it, does she or doesn’t she, but upon reflection it’s more likely you have them. Married at 23 or so to someone now well employed, both now around 40 or so … you could well have found time to have kids, and many would have. Also, you refer to your husband but also to your family sometimes, so you could have kids.

But I favor the coyness about it, the desire not to have a persona who is feverishly “balancing work and family.” Also, in most places I spend time, it is so normal to have kids that people, even women, don’t let their parent identity overtake their professional one the way it seems to do so much in the US.

I don’t see the not mentioning of kids as a way of blending in with men – they talk about kids – I see it as maintaining an autonomous identity and also leaving your kids some kind of breathing space.

For kids, not having every fiber of their mother’s being wrapped up in the idea that she is their mother, is so important.

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By: Cordelia V http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-794475 Sat, 26 Feb 2011 22:57:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-794475 Yup, you’re right: it was Ruth I was quoting. I am active in online communities that use a very different platform, and the comment threading here is formatted in ways that I’m still getting used to.

“When everyone retreats into their experience of motherhood (or breastfeeding for example, as the case may be), the conversation can get pretty nasty and pretty personal (“women who say they can’t breastfeed just aren’t trying hard enough,” “I’d like to read something from a childless person that doesn’t feel like an attack,” etc.)

Ah. How ridiculous. I have breast-fed and raised children and had extensive (and sometimes oppositional) discussions with childfree people, but God save me from ever making such whiny, silly statements.

They should put on their big-girl pants and suck it up. But hyper-sensitive, passive aggressive comments can come in any discussion; Leslie was pretty much making the same point, upthread. It’s not a reason to distance yourself from the authority that comes from your own lived experience and vantage point (whether insider or outsider, as the case may be). Eh.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-794392 Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:26:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-794392 Cordelia–I think it was Ruth who made the comment you quoted at the top of your latest comment, not Leslie.

This is a good point: “Outsiders often are able to perceive things and contribute points of view that people caught up in the process (or subculture of motherhood, if you will) might well miss. They can perceive things that might have been normalized for those who are “inside,” and might pick up on aspects of the process that are culturally-mediated that I might have missed. They have their own “authority,” from my perspective.”

You also write, “I understand that discussing one’s childrearing in the academic workplace might well be ill-advised. But online, there is much less risk, which helps to explain why you see it so much more often in online discussions, perhaps.”

The problem is that people say things (and make accusations about writing in bad faith, etc.) online that they wouldn’t dare say face-to-face. (At least, this is not my experience among academic feminists anyway–the nasty face-to-face exchanges I’ve seen or witnessed were not among academic feminist women!)

I think the blog format is largely responsible for why some of the conversations about motherhood got quite heated a few years ago. When everyone retreats into their experience of motherhood (or breastfeeding for example, as the case may be), the conversation can get pretty nasty and pretty personal (“women who say they can’t breastfeed just aren’t trying hard enough,” “I’d like to read something from a childless person that doesn’t feel like an attack,” etc.)

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By: Cordelia V http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-794375 Sat, 26 Feb 2011 21:15:30 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-794375 Leslie, I think you misread me. You wrote that “There’s a huge difference between saying that being a parent changes one’s perspective on things, not just on parenting (I don’t want to claim this for everyone, but I don’t know anyone for whom it isn’t true), and saying that it gives one authority to speak on the topic that people who aren’t parents don’t have. ”

I wasn’t asserting that having raised children gave one *sole* “authority” to speak on the topic. It gives you *one* sort of authority: the authority of personal experience. That is exactly, precisely the sort of “authority” that Historiann and most other academics I read stand on when they post about a variety of issues that affect academics and students—they are not drawing on their own dissertations or publications, mean to say. They claim expertise based on lived experience. And so do I.

But experience raising children isn’t the only sort of experience or authority that exists on this subject (or for any topic). There is authority grounded in professional training and published research, which some academics do have on almost any topic we can name, including motherhood.

And there is the experience and point of view of being childfree. I have a colleague who has thought seriously about this topic (she is gladly childfree) and even published (in non-scholarly venues) on it. She speaks from her own personal experience and observations, and has her own “authority” on this topic: the viewpoint of someone who stands outside this transformative life process.

Outsiders often are able to perceive things and contribute points of view that people caught up in the process (or subculture of motherhood, if you will) might well miss. They can perceive things that might have been normalized for those who are “inside,” and might pick up on aspects of the process that are culturally-mediated that I might have missed. They have their own “authority,” from my perspective.

The last project I published on was a history of a group of women (from another culture) where I was definitely an outsider (as most historians are, vis-a-vis their topics). My experience (and that of the women from inside the group who read my book) was that being an outsider gave me a different and useful perspective: some of them commented that I had noticed and discussed the origins of practices that they had normalized and naturalized. I think that childfree people can have the same useful perspective, vis-a-vis mothers in our culture.

Sorry to be so verbose! But to sum it up: I think that everyone–whether a parent or not–has his or her own sort of “authority” on this and on a variety of topics, but the type of authority must always be mediated by personal experience. It makes sense to me to own that experience and authority in debates, just as we would usually own other aspects of our identities (gender, race, educational status, etc.). Why should we shroud only our parental standing in online debates?

I understand that discussing one’s childrearing in the academic workplace might well be ill-advised. But online, there is much less risk, which helps to explain why you see it so much more often in online discussions, perhaps.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/02/24/what-i-learned-from-blogging-authority-essentialism-and-motherhood/comment-page-1/#comment-794356 Sat, 26 Feb 2011 20:20:09 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=14273#comment-794356 I guess you’re right, Leslie! If one doesn’t like the opinion being expressed, one can always find a way to dismiss it or challenge it.

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