This is a post about how I fucked up. And other stuff that I think is way more interesting than that, unless you’re some sort of strange person who actively wants me to fuck up (hi, my 10th grade English teacher who probably still hates me), in which case you can just focus on that part.
With every Annual List that comes out, comes the Annual Inevitable Backlash Against The List. I’ve been a part of both. When Babble first introduced a top bloggers list in 2009, there was a lot of talk about it. It had some gravitas. It was early in the mom blogging cycle of cycle-like things having to do with blogging (or something). I thanked the editors for including me, because it always feels nice to know someone likes your writing; but my immediate next instinct was to feel bad for all the great writers whose names I did not see.
In response, I wrote a post called the Top Mommybloggers Who Didn’t Make the Babble List and are Probably More Fun Anyway. The sole qualification: I asked on Twitter, Hey! Who wants to be on a list? First 50 to respond….
And there you go.
It was a fascinating experiment because it forced me to click over to each of those blogs, and get to know the writer a little better. Some of them I even continued reading. A few have stopped blogging. Some have become great friends. And a few of them have grown to be some of the mainstays of annual lists that people complain about, so whoo for Kelly Wickham and Joanne Bamberger and Marinka and Laura Mayes and PHD in Parenting.
(I still really like that post. You should check it out.)
Also yay for Kim Tracy Prince who I totally forgot until now was mentioned there too, but I’ll get back to her in a moment.
In that time, the various list-makers and publishers have gotten smarter in some ways: Seeking out more racial diversity, acknowledging single moms, including newer bloggers. I have learned to mostly step out of the post-mortems because whether I am on the lists or not, there will always be someone missing who shouldn’t be and as with many things, constructive discussion often devolves into complaining which devolves into personal attacks and who has time for that? There’s a whole new season out of Luther on Netflix, you guys. With way way more bloodshed if that’s the sort of thing you like to see.
And obviously, this is not a phenomenon exclusive to blogger lists. People criticize the Oscars winners and the AdAge Top Agencies article, and the Best Doctors in NYC in New York Magazine, and the speaking roster of CES in 2013 which included only male voices.
In other words, lists are good. Lists suck. Lists make you feel good. Lists make you feel terrible. Lists are inclusive. Lists are exclusive. It’s all kind of the nature of a curated, subjective list.
(Don’t worry, the fuck-up is coming.)
Yesterday was a little different. I saw a thread on Facebook from Deb Rox (I mention her with permission) who is rightfully outspoken about such things, and called out the 50-slider slideshow du jour of top mom bloggers for entirely omitting any LGBT voices.
She was right.
A few tweets and emails alerted me to the fact that my name appeared somewhere in that tangle of sliders, and so in there was some clicking (oy, the clicking) to find where I might have been mentioned. (Answer: 24, which exceeds my usual click-tolerance level, and probably yours.) During that process, I also skimmed the other 49 names on the list.
I knew a bunch of them, some of whom I call friends, but many more were unfamiliar to me, which I took as a pretty great sign that the mom blogosphere is evolving–or at least that a certain group of editors somewhere were reading different things than the editors of other websites. I also noticed right away that there was a great deal of racial diversity, more than And for our token Latina blogger… I took this as a pretty terrific sign of progress.
However, here’s what I did not notice in the five minutes I spent on that list:
Whether or not any of the women might have been queer.
How few of them were over 40.
How probably, none of them were over 50. Or if they were, man, they all look terrific.
How they were all American, as Annie noted. (Oh, Annie…you Canadians are so happy to skip around waving your awesome socialized healthcare system at us but when it comes to American press, you really want over that border, don’t you?)
I did notice these things after they were pointed out to me by various people.
So I guess this is what you could call my position of “privilege”–although I would like to think to some degree in this case it was my position of busy-ness; when you skim through a list, and look at the big pretty pictures, it’s easy to notice race. It’s easy to notice blogs that refer to race in their titles, like Hapa Mama or Mami Talks. It’s harder to notice sexuality until you step back and say, “wait…where’s this person who I read? And this person? And this LGBT community leader?”
And that’s what Deb did. And many of her own readers.
However, as I panned down the comment thread, the (overall thoughtful) remarks started with the LGBT inclusivity discussion at hand, and moved onto a few “I hate lists” and “what’s the point of lists?” and “isn’t it just linkbait” (yes) and “why do they always pick the same people for the lists?” and then finally one comment that stuck in my head more than others:
Kim Tracy Prince wrote, “Well, I’m on it after 10 years of being overlooked. So there’s that.”
And yes. There’s that.
There was no comment in response to her at all.
So I jumped into the conversation and, in the most indelicate, oafish way, made a comment along the lines of when I see a list I’m in I say thank you, and when I see someone I know make a list I congratulate them and then I move on to more interesting things we can talk about.
In my head, I just wanted to congratulate Kim. I wanted her to know that it’s true, however flawed every single Top-50-Anything will be, it still feels good to know someone out there likes what you have to say. Someone is reading. Someone took the time to help get you in front of more readers.
But wow, what I said came out wrong.
It came out like, “shut up because we have better things to talk about.”
It’s not what I meant. So, mea culpa.
I hate moral relativism more than even tuna fish sandwiches and that’s saying something. If I’m talking about gender issues, don’t tell me kids are starving in Africa. If I write about kids with AIDS in Ethiopia, don’t tell me that kids also have AIDS in Detroit. And when someone’s talking about privilege or exclusion or why yes, a Black woman has the right to ask why more white people don’t publicly discuss Trayvon Martin, don’t say “there are bigger issues in the world.”
It’s all important. It’s all connected.
It’s true, there was an important voice of motherhood missing from those 50 slider pages: The voice of LGBT mothers. An essential community voice sharing a parenting experience that in some ways is exactly like mine, and in some ways is as different from mine as homeschooling moms, or moms with six kids, or moms who write about citizenship, or moms who write about infertility or the horribleness of losing a child.
So if a list (and I swear I’m trying to find synonyms for the L-word so I don’t have to use it one more time) is really less about “top bloggers” by its inherent subjective nature, and more about a list of diverse, enjoyable voices sharing the myriad experiences of motherhood, then damn. We need to look at it with those eyes, despite the headline.
Then, overnight, something crystallized for me.
This is why we need blogs.
This is why we need the writing of mothers in more than 140 character quips.
This is why we need more than blurry pictures of lunches on Instagram.
This is why we need discussions like this to appear on public pages–and not private or semi-private Facebook timelines–the way they used to, back when we chiseled our blogs into stone tablets and waved them in the air, hoping someone would see.
This is why we need comments and not just tweets and shares.
When you read a blog, you get to know a person. Maybe not the whole person and maybe not the entirety of her experience with regards to every aspect of her life. But you get to know an experience that may be entirely unlike yours, and still may touch you or entertain you or enlighten you in the most profound ways.
That’s why, as I was reminded yesterday, you should read Vicki Reich from Up Popped a Fox. I’ve loved Vicki’s voice for years and was so happy to finally meet her in person this year. Read If You Give a Kid A Sword which I totally wish I had written, although I was not raised with handguns in the house and I don’t have a son named Miguel so there’s no way I could have at all.
Read Polly Pagenhart of Lesbian Dad. Now she’s no stranger to the “The Top blah blah blah” kinds of articles because she’s amazing and more people are seeing it every day. From personal reflections to book reviews, humor and political posts–every post has me nodding along. But if you really want to know who she is, read this sponsored post for Barilla. Yes, that Barilla. It’s not what you might expect.
Read Deborah Goldstein from Peaches & Coconuts, who is witty and sarcastic and I really want to get to know her better. How can you resist a turn of phrase like, The other day, I unearthed an old lipstick – like Y1K old.
Or if you don’t have a whole lot of time, start following the family category of Village Q, a website co-published by all three of these parents, with contributions from many, many more. Readers of parenting blogs might recognize some of the topics: Grappling with baby fever, Minecraft addictions, Father’s Day memories, being sick when you’re a single parent, and whether to leave the kids home alone.
(LGBT parents and celebrities! They’re just like us!)
Oh, and you think you get bad pitches in your inbox? Check out Extreme Couponing, Sperm Edition from Sarah Gilbert.
So with respect to Deb, who called me on my shit in her very Deb way, thank you. For reminding me that we do have to keep talking about diversity–all of it–because as the bloggers of color will tell you, it makes a difference, if slowly. And for reminding me however indirectly that I need to make more time to get off social media and read more blogs. More kinds of blogs. So I can know more kinds of women.
When I do, I never regret it.
Edited to add: If you know a fantastic parenting blog (of any kind) with great writing that deserves more attention, don’t be shy to leave it in the comments.
55 thoughts on “The other L-Word. Well, both L-Words.”
For parenting words and lovely life photos that make up a childhood of the stuff that all children need to feel loved and valued, daily entries on raising a kid in the most beautifully accepting way so she feels her worth, follow Life with Roozle, by Casey Carey Brown. Riley is a little girl with two mommies who make up one of the most in the moment parenting stories I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing.
I second the suggestion of Life with Roozle.
Alexandra truth, unfortunately some people despise children, lack humanism in some humans, we need to give greater attention to children. A hug my lovely.
My level of indignation about lists depends on who has made them. The bigger and more supposedly authoritative the source the more I desire diversity because I expect them to be mindful of such things much like professional conferences should be. Still, there are so many lists and so many people who could be on those lists that not everyone will ever be happy.
Mostly I look at “best of” lists the way you do. When I know people on them I congratulate them. Then I move on.
Just like my weekly shopping list does not contain all the delicious foods of the universe, these lists are just a few good blogs that came to the mind of the editor(s) at that moment in time. Inclusion on the list can be imbued with some meaning, but exclusion should not be.
Really well put. All of it. I expect a Time Magazine piece on best websites for women to be well-researched and inclusive. I don’t really expect that from sites that have more Google adsense on the pages than actual content.
I admit freely that I have seen myself on lists that embarrass me too much to acknowledge because the person who wrote it was easily on crack. Or did a search for “mom blog” and included the first 10 that came up. Probably both.
Usually when I comment on a Liz post it’s with a lump in my throat or a tear in my eye and a lot of gratitude. Gratitude remains but this time I’m grateful for the strong, thoughtful perspective of this post. It’s so easy to get stuck in blog habits as Liz described and equally easy to, with the help of a post like this, knock ourselves into wonderful new blog territory. So two weeks from seeing you at BlogHer here’s a virtual h/t and thanks to the ever gifted, ever-wise Miz Liz!
Thanks for the shout-out. First. Well-said, second. We’re all imperfect, forgetful and ignorant in our own ways, which is why I love this discussion and bad pitches in my inbox. And this post is way better than being including on any list that I didn’t know about in the first place.
I completely checked out of this discussion yesterday, because every time I see the list cycle begin I get uncomfortable, and because I’m never on parenting lists (because you know) I can easily remove myself emotionally from the situation. Except for stuff like this, when my friends remind me why it’s important not to remove ourselves from larger discussions that arise as a result. Yesterday was like this:
1. See subtweets and Facebook updates about a “list”.
3. Cruise around social to see if I can come across it without shame spiral of researching it myself.
4. Silently thank first friend who is on said list who takes one for the team and thanks list-makers, for ending my suffering of not knowing. That may have been you, Liz. So thanks.
5. Congratulate self on personal growth because I no longer seek out and look through list, but instead wait for news of who and who is not on it to trickle through my feeds as the day wears on. Because I try to love everyone the same, and I don’t want to know.
6. Wait for inevitable passive-aggressive subtweets and Facebook updates from those who are not on list.
7. Congratulate internet on personal growth because I saw fewer of those yesterday than ever.
8. Realize from conversation with friend that entire sizable kickass community within group of parenting bloggers got no mention, so appreciate the people who speak up about this, primarily the LGBT bloggers, because they shouldn’t have to but every time they do it reminds everyone else that when we overlook them it’s our problem.
9. Scratch head that people don’t read some of the very people you list above because they are some of the best writers on the internet, regardless of sexual orientation or parenting identity, and congratulate myself because they are my FRIENDS. 😉
10. Consider the win of this list cycle (love that) that some needed conversation will continue about this, and hopefully people will start understanding that inclusion is crucial. And more people will read some of these amazing queer voices on the internet.
11. Get urge to blog again like I’ve been avoiding, because of this post.
12. Therefore make list cycle all about me.
Thanks, Liz. That was healing for me.
PS You will love Deborah as much as you love Vikki. They are almost as funny together as Sarah and me. We have been in a fight about this for a couple of years now.
There are no losers amongst friends who battle for the most funny. It’s the happiest competition around. When will we get in the ring again?? I’d really like to see that Most Funny lucite plaque displayed on my mantel next to my Lladró ballerina.
Great post. Now I want to see lists that include non-mom, female life bloggers!
I thought we made one once.
I think Laurie, in the Top 50 non-Babble list I did, I referred to you as the only non-mom to make a mom blog list. Or something. Mentally adding Elan in too.
Thanks for the shout-out, Liz and thanks for continuing to do this years and years after it should no longer be necessary.
Thank you for all of your smart thinking on this, for always going the extra mile to support other bloggers, and for always calling me on my shit, as well. The process of seeing that you described so well is what draws me to blogging too, and to this type if meta conversations even if prompted by LISTS, because there is so much leverage always for each of us to increase our capacities to see and understand. I sure need it, time and again, and in this case really hate if it came across that I’m not infinitely happy for many women to be celebrated (I am!), especially those who have been overlooked in the past and especially Women of Color, even while examining other parts, premises or outcomes of the project. I think there’s room for all of it, but I can also count on failing and trying on cycles as predictably as the dang Top Blog lists. Truly grateful to the way you elevate good out of threads of tangled stuff in your gifted Liz way. And yes, read those women! They are excellent, and the world is better off because they are parents and bloggers.
Thank you Deb.
And everyone here. Please don’t take my (unusual) silence to mean anything but I’m sitting back, listening, smiling, nodding, and learning. You are all amazing. And one of the things I love most about writing here, is that it leads you guys to write even better stuff in the comments.
Yes, lists are weird inclusive, exclusive things. Yesterday I was happy to see some friends who have been blogging a while on that list, I was slightly bored at seeing some of the same ones over and over, I heavily noticed the women of color, and then I got a wonky feeling about never being on any of those lists myself.
Then I moved on…
until I saw Deb’s comment too.
She’s good like that. She often reminds me to pick up the rock and look at it’s underside.
Also – Life With Roozle rules!
Thank you for all of this but more than anything, thank you for being accountable and bringing this out into the open for discussion. We all make missteps but the people who own those and help us all learn are the people I respect most. Love to you!
Standing ovation, Liz. Blogging continues to be so important…not in the way it used to be, but in the way it always has been.
You may have made me a believer in blogging again.
I somehow missed all this yesterday, but I apparently coincidentally tweeted last night that I’d like to be on some kind of list, like a 40 under 40 or something, in response to an in person conversation I’d had with a friend. I meant it more as a “wouldn’t it be nice if we could toot our own horns sometimes?” So many people are feeling defeated and unworthy. I wish there was more opportunity to publicly say, “hey, you’re awesome!” on a regular basis. We all need it, regardless of any labels that apply. So congrats for making the list, and to the others as well, and for taking the opportunity to point out what was missed.
Not really a mommy blogger, so many of the names in this post/comments are new to me (got here via Alexandra), but wanted to say: Thanks for noticing that older bloggers are also often overlooked. Feels so weird to know I’m in that camp, but I am. And I feel it online.
Thanks for your comment Rita. I was pointed out to the great Forty over 40 list by Joanne Bamberger yesterday (even though she says it’s not a list, ha), so age was definitely on my mind. As someone who has posted high school photos and had friends comment, “I wasn’t born yet”….oof. I get it. But as my kids get older, I start to look for more voices of women in my situation and beyond. There were so few when I started blogging, and more –like you — now. So. Progress!
Liz, first, thank you for this thoughtful post. You are a courageous writer and I’m proud to know you.
Second, I didn’t read your “thanks and move on” comment as dismissively as your concern suggests. I took it as a way of acknowledging being someone often on those lists, who also recognizes the limits of them. I enjoyed your contributions in the original conversation, and here, expanded upon.
Thank you for your thoughtful contributions to hard conversations. And for being a great and ongoing ally for queer parents as well as more visible forms of diversity. I know you’ve been in our corner for years, and that makes a big difference.
That’s really nice of you Liza. I’m glad you took it that way because I felt unsettled about it for way too long after I wrote it. You are amazing. I wish you wrote on your own blog more but now I know I can find you at Village Q.
I read Deb’s post about the list before I ever saw the list so I wasn’t sure who was included and who wasn’t. I saw your comment and didn’t think much about it to tell you the truth. I certainly didn’t read it as dismissive.
That being said, I am a blogger. I am over 40. I am a mom. I am a lesbian. In 2006, when I started my blog, I was a straight mommy blogger. Kind of. My kids were featured in my blog all the time. Then I came out, got divorced, and started a new blog. Not necessarily in that order! Now, I rarely mention my kids. Of course they are ages 14, 16, 18, and 21 so they would rather not be blog fodder, and I found that I have blogged about the coming out journey, my christian faith, and everyday life more than anything. It’s what comes out. So what kind of blogger does that make me? A female life blogger as Elan suggests? I have no idea.
Since reading about the list, I have since seen the list, and I only knew 3 of the bloggers listed. This doesn’t surprise me, though, since I feel like I’ve been quite self-centered when it comes to blogging lately. I still have a hundred bloggers in my reader, but many of them aren’t blogging anymore. I still faithfully read every post by those who are. I need to branch out and read others. I need to comment more to show my support. Words are powerful. Deb’s, yours, mine, and the countless other women who share themselves in this crazy media circus. I love it!
Now YOU have a story to tell! That’s the kind of thing that should be heard. Not for any sort of quota reason, but because it’s fascinating, it’s enlightening and you tell it well.
I love blogs and blogging. Absolutely love them. I write the sort of blog that will never, ever, ever be on any list, mainly because I refuse to find a consistent theme. I bounce all over the place, and my blog has evolved as my interests have. I’ve recently set up as an independent contractor in my field, and am starting up a web presence in that capacity. I’ll be moving some of the things I want to write about over to that new site, under my real name. But I am keeping Wandering Scientist and intend to keep it active, because I want a place to write about parenting, travel, and random unprofessional things, and I need a place to rant about the sexism and other injustices in my field and in the wider world. I need a place where I can be the whole me, not just the professional me. I’m active on twitter, too, but it can never replace blogs and I still try to click through and comment when I have something to say in response to a post. I’m old school. OK, I’m old. I’ll try to evolve with the times and learn the new things- but I don’t think I’ll ever let go of blogging or commenting on other people’s blogs.
Wait, YOU HAVE A NAME? Breaking news!
(Congrats on the new ventures – huge!)
Thanks! I’m still getting things set up, but I’m pretty excited by the new career direction.
I’ve tiptoed up to using my real name before. My books may or may not be published under my real last name and initials….
Us too with the not being on a list, unless it’s like a “random bloggers without a theme” list and even then I’m not sure we’d qualify. But if we do, I expect we’ll be on that list with Wandering-Scientist.
Amen. And thank you for continuing to chisel such thoughtful and articulate words onto your stone blog all these years.
Here, here! All over the place! And also very much thank you for the time you took to single out not just a few of us LGBT parenting bloggers, but sources for folks to find many more of us (namely VillageQ).
Like Sarah, methinks your super-thoughtful, contextualized shout-out here is way better than being on a list.
Two of the brightest-shining gems here I want to say an especial “here, here!” to. Brava first for your bracing reminder to us all what it is that distinguishes blogs (the writing and the reading and the commenting) as a powerful tool for heart-and-mind expanding, way more comprehensive than micro-blogging a handful of words or a single image. You SO hit that out of the ballpark (as you do). I’m with Cynthia: let’s find that wonderful new blog territory together!
Brava, too, for your open, honest, insightful self-evaluation. It’s a fantastic example for all of us (to whichever degrees, over whichever it is that is harder for us to see). None of us has the luxury of never making a mis-step or oversight or misrepresentation of ourselves. Few take the time to make such an event an opportunity to deepen and expand. Thank you, Liz. Very proud to call you a friend.
Okay now this is the comment that choked me up. Thank you Polly. You are a brightest-shining gem yourself.
You are so positive, it’s remarkable. Do you ever have a bad day? Geez.
Your post today is about the difference between what you did: apologize, explain, and resolve to grow and Bundy and Sterling and Christie, who not only refuse to apologize but double down whenever they speak untruths.
…”To know even/one life has breathed easier/because I have lived”.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I rest my case.
I have never been to your blog before (maybe I don’t pay enough attention to lists to find new people), but I will definitely be back. Your thoughtful introspection and public acknowledgement of a mistake is truly inspiring. Too often, we make mistakes (myself included) and, when corrected, don’t take the time to understand how we made the mistake. And, if we do take the time, we (myself included) certainly rarely share the new found insights with the world and admit culpability and, you know, being human. And, if we do manage to make a public mea culpa, we certainly don’t (and here I am absolutely talking about myself) do it as eloquently as you have.
Honestly, I am really glad that Deb started the discussion and that you said what you said because it lead to this piece which I hope will get others to think. It certainly made me think.
I think the online lists make us anxious in a “getting picked last for teams” kind of way. It feels more important than it is, and in the long run it only matters what you continue to do, list or no list.
That FB thread and your post made me sit up straight, pull my shoulders back and breathe in self-satisfaction for continuing to blog for the reasons you identified.
I was never interested in fame – so I’m doing that right – but I also didn’t start blogging to make new friends. The whole online community thing really weirded me out before I understood how much I had to gain by reading bloggers I never would have met in the real world. I found my own people, and even more importantly, I found people I never would have considered to by my people. And that made me happy. Clearly, I needed people. That makes me one of the luckiest people in the world…
While Barbra’s voice serves as the soundtrack to my comment, I say AMEN to your conclusion that there is value in sharing our voices and our perspectives and engaging in conversation that brings us together despite our differences. Lists shmists.
Also, thank you for reminding me that I really do need to pull my shoulders back more often. Blogging is good for conversation – bad for posture.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a LGBTQ, Hispanic, Millennial small business owner with a great social presence?
Seriously, I am asked to identify social influences with diversity all the time. I might joke about it a little but it really is one of the things I really love about my job.
Thank you for speaking up to congratulate me, Liz.
My point in piping up on Deb’s discussion wasn’t to call attention to myself, exactly, but to point out that this list at least recognized a different bunch of names, and oh look, several people including me who have been around a while but don’t usually make lists. For what that’s worth. It’s not perfect but what is?
I’m not gay, or single, or ethnically different from all the other white mom bloggers out there. I don’t have a gimmick, or take amazing photographs, or rant about the news events of the day with a polarizing opinion, and I don’t share TMI (usually). It’s a lot harder to get noticed. I’ve had to quietly nurse my corner of the internet and love it for what it is, and make it my own, all these years.
You know what? I do it because I love doing it, and obviously I’ve kept on doing it despite not getting on lists. Like SO many of us, whatever background or description fits us. That’s what I do love about the internet: it’s a room of many corners. We can all have one.
“A room of many corners. We can all have one.” That’s a great line.
See? That’s why you’re on a list.
As usual, we’ve all forgotten that there’s only one list that matters:
The Top 25 Sexiest Mom Bloggers!
I really should update it for 2014.
I would let 2011 live in infamy, Shawn. You really can’t top perfection.
So, if so many people have problems with lists, then why not ask to be left off them? I know that emails were sent in advance of this list being announced, why not ask to be left off? I know many commenters here have been on these lists, if there are so many problems with them, ask to be left off.
I think ultimately, we always have problems with lists we aren’t on.
On the one hand, I can understand frustration that voices that represent us or people we love aren’t, well, represented. But also, like so many people on the internet, I’ve been here a while and the rallying cry of disagreement seems to be, “This doesn’t represent me!” Why is that always necessary. Not one thing can represent all people at all times. Isn’t that why we are on the internet? To represent ourselves?
I think the mistake is that we assume people on the list deserve the acknowledgment more than others. In reality, it’s a crap shoot.
I can only speak for myself in that I learned about this article after it was published when I was alerted to it, as I said. It may be flawed, but it’s not morally offensive to me. Overlooking a group (one hopes) inadvertently is not the same as deliberately mistreating them, and I don’t think anyone needs to pull a Marlon Brando at the ’73 Oscars and rise up in righteous indignation…over a blog list.
As for your question about why is it necessary to try and promote a more diverse and accurate representation of a community? I’ll let someone else take that.
Well I can take a stab at that “why is it necessary to try and promote a more diverse and accurate representation of a community” thing!
It’s helpful, for starters, to underline that the critique is not that the list overlooked a given individual, for instance the person leveling the critique ( “Why was *I* not on this list?”). The critique is that a whole dynamic community of bloggers was overlooked, surprisingly so. The implicit point is that this oversight indicates LGBT bloggers seem invisible to the group who compiled the list. That’s a problem when the list is ostensibly representing a subject area in which LGBT bloggers are a dynamic part.
For all minority groups, invisibility to the majority is a big ole problem (c.f. Ralph Ellison’s 20th century masterpiece *Invisible Man*). There’s no need to improve the conditions or remedy inequities if you can’t or don’t actually even see the group. Invisibility for gays in particular has been such an elemental part of our disenfranchisement and cultural erasure that we all have a short-hand for it: “the closet.”
All that sounds way more intentional and broad-scale than a simple little list. But that is definitely the larger cultural backdrop.
On the bright side: when arbiters of excellence are not limited as selective a vision, when they benefit from a frame of reference that’s inclusive of the amazing range of people telling their stories online, we all win. Deborah above zeroes in on that element as a central value of this medium: “I found my own people, and even more importantly, I found people I never would have considered to by my people.”
Polly, can I just follow you around all day and listen to you say stuff?
You might have to check with my kids first to see what that actually feels like IRL. They’ll give an unvarnished account, though by now I think it’s just that we have a white noise kind of background talk radio station thing going on.
I like lists. When I’m on them. When I’m not, I silently think “why wasn’t I on this list?” I was once considered one of Babble’s Top 50 Mom Bloggers, which I can say with absolutely no sense of martyrdom, I was not. Because I read mom bloggers and while I like my writing, I don’t think I’m “the best.” That said, it impresses people outside the industry when they see that little badge on my site.
But really, lists are so super subjective. It’s somebody’s opinion. Or it’s simply linkbait. Everyone’s writing matters for a reason and that reason is almost NEVER because it’s been mentioned on a list.
(Insert heaving sigh)
I’ll admit to pining for recognition, a little flicker of hope crackling as I see a link to a list. “Maybe this time…” I go, I click, I nod, I lift my eyebrows (which is hard for me because ever since the days of Magnum PI I have tried to waggle my eyebrows and waggle they will not, but still)
I’m never on them, but often times there are people whose voices I deeply respect listed. I am happy for them, but just as often I wonder why certain people go unlisted. Then I get to thinking about what being on the list would really mean. Would it mean as much as a comment on my own blog by someone who was moved to tears, or as much as a tweet sent out by someone who just wanted to say that they were grateful for an online friendship with me? I don’t think that it would. In fact the weight of feeling like I needed to measure up would probably give me a sour stomach.
I’m kind of tired of the persistent efforts to neatly box up the best and define entire communities by a few faces chosen by a nameless group of people charged with getting clicks.
I am happy for everyone who is happy, sad for those who feel slighted, and hopeful that when the dust of this list settles and before the next list hits, we all trust in a more meaningful gauge of quality writing—because damn, there is some writing out there that will change you.
Amanda, you’re on my list. Always.
I will admit freely that there can be some benefits to being named to lists, especially if the source is reputable. But when I get a comment that says “I had to delurk for the first time in 7 years…” or a private email from a reader thanking me for something, or a comment from YOU that makes me smile/laugh/think/sigh, well that’s the stuff that really makes me want to keep writing.
When I’ve been too busy to write for a week, it’s not the list-makers of the world that inspire me to find the time to jump back in; it’s my readers. Always.
I was on a list once. With you as well, if I remember correctly. I was blown away at the time because it was 2009 and I was just a little blogger (still am) and it came outta nowhere. I didn’t even own my domain then. The “good old days”, as they say… And sure, it felt good for a little bit to say I was on a list (with amazing company!) but it did not catapult me into instant fame (dammit!). 😉 All this to say, I understand the allure of lists, they pump you up (if you’re on them) and hopefully give the reader a nice sample of blogs to read and follow. I’m sorry to hear that this one missed the mark in a BIG way.
Thanks for always bringing these types of things to light, Liz.
PS. Autostraddle.com is quite fabulous as well.
PPS. Slightly off topic…I’m openly bisexual and people always forget that. They never forget that I’m a mom though even though I write about being a mom less than I write about dead animals. These pigeonholes have too many pigeons in them.
Thanks for the tip. Looks like a great site.
And Jenny! You are the token!
In seriousness, that supports the point I made about not easily seeing if someone on a list is LGBT, unless the title indicates it somehow. “Lesbian Dad” makes it easy. “The Bloggess” not so much. Unless that’s some sort of euphemism that goes over my head.
Although now that I think about it, maybe “Mama Drama” was a hint?
A long and hearty applause for you. Truly and genuinely I’m crying. I know how much this post means to people, especially my sister. I’m crying really. thank you so tucking much
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