It used to be me.
I was the one who sat at my Madison Avenue desk (whch was rarely anywhere near Madison Avenue, truth be told) and thought, “how do we talk to moms?”
I was the one who sat in the dark behind the two-way mirror in focus groups rolling my eyes at the housewives on the other side.
I was the one who thought that moms were women with children first.
I could march for women’s rights and write papers on feminism, and read Ms. Magazine all I wanted but while the women I admired I knew may have also been moms–I didn’t think of “moms” and conjure up women I admired.
Mostly I thought of carpools.
It’s an easy group to dismiss, I suppose. Because when marketers talk to moms they think of us in terms of that which we consume: Dish detergent. Hamburger helper. Tile cleanser. Minivans with cupholders and built-in DVDs. And why not? The vast majority are not interested in our hopes and dreams and mental well-being, so much as these things are a conduit for selling stuff.
It’s why, in part, I’m so defensive of us. It’s my own mea culpa. It’s my own attempt to make up for misguided beliefs. that were in part informed by a very narrow peer group sharing a very narrow lifestyle. Kids? Those are for 40-somethings in Westchester.
Last week’s AdAge editorial on mommybloggers and swag has stuck in my craw, and not because of the points in it itself, or because the writer omitted a fact that changed the tone of the piece.
But because of the nature of the comment thread.
The men in the thread (with very few exceptions) didn’t comment on the piece. They didn’t shed light on the discussion. What they did was attack the commenters. Because we are moms. And therefore we must be fucking idiots.
The comment that got me the most came from someone I may have even met before. I may have had a glass of Pinot with him at an award show or made idle chithat at an industry loft party on New Year’s Eve. We probably engaged in the proverbial Showing of the Dicks advertising ritual and decided that based on who we knew in common and where we’d worked and what awards we’d won and what clever little spontaneous quips we could toss out on cue, that we could be seen talking together.
Maybe we even liked each other.
In the comments of the AdAge article, he wrote:
I still haven’t been able to find any mommies I know who read these blogs.
They’re all too busy, it seems, trying to keep Junior from exploring the wall sockets with the cat’s tail.
And all at once he marginalizes motherhood, he demeans those who choose to write (perhaps radically?) about the important business of motherhood, and he insinuates pretty plainly that us “mommies” who blog reeeeally should get a life and leave the writing to the professionals.
(Of course he also uses the really trite and dated “Junior” as generic stand-in for “child,” even while everyone knows by now that it’s far funnier to write “Little Madysynne Kayleigh.”)
Do you know what the great irony is?
This is someone who has earned his living (and his awards) from writing ads about Campbell’s Soup.
I know what happens when a marketing professional insults his client. But what happens when he insults his audience?
Let me say here that I’m not writing this to create a pile-on situation in comments where everyone finds a new and more clever way to express what a douche he is. (Which I know you could all totally do and rather well, I might add.) He may be. He also may be the nicest guy you’ve ever met; maybe he’s even a dad himself. And if we do attack him, we’re doing just what he did to us – creating a charicature based on a few sentences.
I’m writing this because the comment is emblematic of how very, very damaged the the marketing and advertising industry can be in how it looks at moms. So damaged, that a professional can leave a disparaging comment on a very public trade publication website, and not anonymously either. Why be anonymous? He was proud of his comment! It was funny! C’mon guys, lighten up! I love moms! Some of my best friends are moms!
Maybe you don’t care what other people think of you, but I do. I always have and it’s my own cross to bear. And it pisses me off to no end.
I’m also writing this because I think it’s exquisitely emblematic of why I keep ranting about how we have to be better (and probably better than we should have to be). More thoughtful. More professional. More aware. And certainly less easily dismissed.
I know. I’ve been on the other side.