• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

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Blog Influence

Reading Elizabeth’s and Aeron’s columns this week made me wish more than ever that I had been able to participate in the recent  Organization for Communication, Language & Gender conference. I had originally been scheduled to do so, but a series of insane technicalities got in the way, and in the end it was simpler to stay home and sulk.

October 30, 2011
 

Reading Elizabeth’s and Aeron’s columns this week made me wish more than ever that I had been able to participate in the recent  Organization for Communication, Language & Gender conference. I had originally been scheduled to do so, but a series of insane technicalities got in the way, and in the end it was simpler to stay home and sulk.

Elizabeth had asked me to write a statement to be read at the conference, about the ways that writing for this blog has influenced the ways I think and communicate about motherhood. It was a thoughtful, important question, and I put a lot of thought into my response:

Writing for Mama PhD has sensitized me to a number of issues faced by mothers in situations that are different from mine. The comments section has been a real education for me. At first, when I would write about my own life, and other women would take me to task for writing from a  position of unconscious privilege, saying, "Aren't you lucky to have a partner at home to help with that?" or "Imagine what it's like to be dealing with that as a department secretary who gets no respect from the high and mighty professors," I would resent it. I would think, you have no idea of the difficulties I face in my life. Anyway, I can only write what I know. If you don't like what you're reading, start your own blog.

I have come to see, though, how many privileges I take for granted, and to begin to imagine the struggles of my fellow moms with greater empathy. I think that exposure to these viewpoints has  enriched both my writing about motherhood and my appreciation of the struggles of mothers I encounter in real time.

I drew the line, though, at accepting a male professor's reprimand for omitting mention of the suffering of male prisoners in a post on how campus rape culture affects female students' ability to feel safe on campus. I  took a lot of flak for that, but I remain convinced that as serious as that problem is, women need a safe space to discuss our own struggles and fears without being overshadowed by men, as so often happens.

I have also, of course, learned a great deal from my fellow Mama PhD bloggers. I particularly love the weeks when our posts become a sort of round robin, each reflecting and responding to ideas put forth by the others!

Maybe it’s actually fitting to have been represented at the conference through written words — that is the medium through which I have gotten to know all of you, at least initially, and through which most of you know me. Though I wish we could all talk in person, in someone’s kitchen, with a bottle of wine. I know we’d have even more to say!

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