The Problem With Being a “Lady Blogger”

Shall we all retire to our garrets and come out only to discuss ART (and, not Assisted Reproductive Technology) like Flaubert and Proust?

I recently ran into a discussion about how some prominent online women writers loathe the term “lady blogger.”

I must admit I’d never heard the phrase.

Apparently, there is a theory out there (happy to email you guys a link to the article but I don’t want to put it up here for a variety of reasons) that women writers are becoming segregated into a kind of world where the only major issues being discussed are related to “Aunt Flo,” weight, appearance, style, children (or lack thereof) and reproductive politics.

This was interesting to me. I suspect (although I am not sure) that a lot of Adoption/Loss/Infertility bloggers also write OTHER blogs. The ALI world clearly is a place where there is a unique community aspect to our writing: we share information about our own journeys and write where we are in our battle to have children, live childless/childfree or parent after infertility. So, yes: we write about mostly this stuff, the reproductive details of our lives.

But most of us vary it up somewhat. I have seen a wide variety of brilliant, general interest posts over the years on many ALI blogs about many different things: religion, politics, science, truly great non-fiction and of course, humor.

The posts I have highlighted I honestly believe could be published as articles in print media, or on a broader online platform like Huffington Post or even in a literary journal like the New Yorker. To prove my point, one of my best writer buddies HAS been published in a print magazine, about her budgeting project blog.

I guess the theory is, by mostly writing about ONE topic and getting stuck in a niche, do we miss the opportunity to gain a wider audience? Or, do you believe that great, universal posts go viral and gain the acceptance they deserve?

I have to say that while I have seen a few posts that resonated deeply go viral, I have also seen a bunch that also shot me straight in the heart not go viral and I think that is a shame. I guess being a writer means that rejection is the main defining feature of our lives (as my dad always says) but I do have to ask the question:

By writing in one category, do outstanding writers miss larger opportunities for their words to be read? I know most of my readers are very modest, but all of you have written a truly great post. Just like everyone has one book in them, I truly believe that each blogger has at least one truly great post in them. I’ve read too many to dispute that theory…



Filed under Blogging, writing

14 responses to “The Problem With Being a “Lady Blogger”

  1. Being called a lady always make me feel like 80 years old, don’t know why, maybe it just sounds old fashion since English is not my first language.
    guess it depends why you write and what audience you wish for, if any at all. But I agree there are some great posts that would touch and educate people from different walks of life if getting the chance. Yours included.

  2. Personally I don’t care what anyone thinks of or pigeon hols my writing into. I write what I feel, and whatever the topic may be it is genuine. That is all that matters to me.

  3. I’m not a lady. 😉

    Like Leslie, part of me doesn’t care where I “fit.” But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I would like a larger audience. I see other people who draw a crowd, and don’t understand why … and wonder sometimes if it’s my subject matter, or my inability to market myself, or just plain humility.

    It does make me second guess that I have Things to say, though. 😛

  4. St. Elsewhere

    I have never heard that phrase before either.

    And we blog, which means that there is a writing bug in us for sure.

    But, in answering your concern, I would like to say that two points are very relevant about ‘us losing out on fame by sticking to one topic’:

    1. Why do I write?
    2. Who do I write for?

    Answers to that would hold the key. I do not dream of becoming a hugely famous blogger. For me, the consistency in my readership, is the key to the camaraderie I have within the community. I, in loose terms, know the folks around here. And I am just small-town-blog kind of a person.

    My primary sense in writing is writing for self. And rather than being an opinionated, forecasting or brilliant blog of the problems of the world, I choose to write on some daily tidbit of my life. That’s it.

  5. This is a very interesting post. I’ve been thinking about it since I read it, not sure what to say. I worry a lot that I pigeon-hole myself as a blogger. I write about what interests me and it seems that what interests me is just a few topics. I’ve realized since starting my “new” blog that I write about parenting much more than I’d hoped or expected to. Isn’t there more to me than that subject? I guess not. I don’t know what else to write about, truthfully, I worry that keeps me from forging a larger audience. I also worry it says something about me that I’d rather not be said: that I’m nothing more than a mother, even when I strive to be others things equally well.

    I am absolutely a “lady blogger” though I had never before heard the term. On the one hand I want to be “more” than a lady blogger, on the other hand I don’t care enough to make that happen. I just keep writing what is easy for me to write, and that is things “lady bloggers” write about.

  6. When I read this, my first thought was “women make up half the population.” When you talk about reaching a larger audience, do you mean men? I am not being facetious, but I think that when we talk about something appealing “only” to women, we are ignoring that important fact. A lot of people out there are women. We’re not a minority.

    I guess there are some women who aren’t interested in these particular topics (motherhood, fertility, etc). But that would be true of any topic we chose to blog on. Personally, I’m okay with appealing only to women. I think that by worrying about it, I’d be implying that things that appeal to women are less important that things that appeal to “the general population” (which is who? men? they’re only half the population, too, like we are)

  7. Julie Anita

    My mom and I had a brief conversation the other day relevant to this topic– she was talking about how Ellen DeGeneres is so popular, and my mom thinks people see her as a comedian first and a lesbian/woman second, which was interesting to her. And I said, well, it IS interesting, because most women are seen as a “woman ________” instead of just a “________” like a man would be, and maybe Ellen’s androgyny is part of what adds to her universal appeal (her femininity doesn’t get in the way of men relating to her, and women don’t find her threatening). I added that being a woman usually adds a layer on top of whatever else a person is that distracts from the other things they do that people enjoy or respect, so it IS a bit of a damaging thing to have “woman” or “female” added on to someone’s title.

    Of course, by that time my mom was halfway across the room asking someone else a question about who knows what. She wasn’t particularly interested in my feminist musings. Oh well.

    But yes… I do think that terms ilke “lady blogger,” while accurately descriptive, are just evidence that “man bloggers” are the norm and anything else is somewhere between a deviation and a curiosity. Saying “lady blogger” isn’t inherently harmful in itself, but it’s part of the larger problem, which IS harmful.

  8. Julie Anita

    Forgot to add the rest of my point, because I got so invested in the first part– I write what started as an infertility blog which became a parenting blog, but there’s other stuff in there, too. I think we categorize ourselves, and there’s no reason why we can’t have, say, a political or crafting or homesteading blog with some personal entries. I see that all the time and those are the blogs I enjoy the most.

  9. I guess I’m a lady-blogger. I’d rather be called that than a mommy-blogger, which, to me, has a pinch more judgment in the name. Either way, if one of my posts went viral, I’d be pretty tempted to freak out and make a lot of my posts private.

  10. To be a Lady Blogger, I’d first have to be a lady.
    *hawk-up a lung and spit*
    *lift a cheek and lett’er rip*

    I am SO honored to have a post in such illustrious company. I clicked over to each post, some of them new to me. And your assessment of them is spot on.

    I’ve been thinking along these lines as I prepare for a BlogHer12 panel on “My Blog No Longer Fits Me.” One of my musings is that we try to get the best of both worlds — write about what interests us, no matter if it fits with a “niche,” but also have a tribe that comes from some sort of niche blogging. Maybe that’s infertility or parenting or women’s issues.

    Writing from your interests is like using a scatter shotgun and writing with a niche in mind is like using a rifle. Coverage AND precision.

    Uh, not that we’re trying to shoot anyone.

    Thinking out loud here. Thanks for a post that makes me do that.

    * Truly, I never do these things. Ask my sisters.

  11. Another great and thought-provoking post! You are on a roll/seem very inspired lately… I have been reading, but horrible re: commenting. That said, in light of Nora Ephron’s death I was reading the NYT piece and her 1996 Commencement Address at her alma matter Wesley and in the last paragraph she talks about “being a lady!” If you haven’t read the whole thing, check it out, especially the ending as it made me think of you and this post immediately. If I can find the time I will write multiple blog posts inspired by and quoting parts of her commwncemtb

    • My phone decided I was done commenting before I was… But was just trying to say how many awesome things she says in that commencing speech!

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