Lisa Belkin's New York Times "Mom Blog Jinx"

21 days ago

I just saw Lisa Belkin's latest Motherlode post over at the New York Times. Headline? "The Mom Blog Jinx."

I know Lisa Belkin -- we've chatted and emailed, I've spoken on a panel with her -- and I think she's smart. I appreciate her avid participation in the parenting blogosphere. Which is why it was with honest incredulity that I read this piece.

Belkin writes:

Does the universe scoff at those who have the hubris to share their lives so completely? Or is it just that bad things happen, all the time, to families everywhere, and the Internet has given a window into randomness that we might otherwise not have?

Belkin lists a half dozen or so mommybloggers -- parenting bloggers, whatever you want to call them -- and the tragedies that have befallen them, as though the fact they were blogging somehow had anything to do with those tragedies. She ends the post with a plea for help for a blogger who has insurance problems, leading me to believe that was really the point of the post.

But still. My first reaction was that highlighting these issues under the headline and lede of "jinx" is kind of ... irresponsible. Women struggled silently for thousands of years before we took our voices public.

It's very common in our community for us to highlight someone who is having trouble. We do it here at BlogHer all the time, most recently for Ashleigh Burroughs -- a blogger Belkin mentioned and someone whom I've syndicated here on the site and have corresponded with via email. Lisa Stone wrote a post asking for BlogHers to head over to Ashleigh's site and lend a little support. I don't see anything wrong -- and a lot of things right -- with pointing out if someone has already stated publicly that she's going through a tough time and offering support. But to frame up the problem as though it had been manifested by the woman recording her thoughts online is blaming the victim.

I'm pretty firmly in the camp of "bad things happen" and "when they do happen to someone in our community, we should offer our support." I'm adamantly opposed to any suggestion that a woman brings bad things upon herself by openly sharing her struggles and triumphs in writing in the public sphere. I find it very dangerous to insinuate that by writing our truth we could rain tragedy down on ourselves and our loved ones.

Every single situation Belkin described was random and had nothing to do with blogging.

Updated 4 p.m. CST: I commented on the Motherlode to let Lisa Belkin know I was writing about her piece. She responded to my comment and clarified her intent in writing the piece. It's a nice explanation -- I recommend reading it. I also appreciate the opportunity to question another writer's work and have my questions responded with such civility and class.

What do you think about her piece? Am I off-track?

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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