Liza, at LesbianFamily.org posted today about her experience with Clubmom. Basically, she's disappointed that Clubmom is uninterested in welcoming lesbian moms or including their voices in the dialogues that occur in clubmomdom. After extraordinarily flattering me, she asked me to speak more about my experiences with them, so because I am extraordinarily flattered, I am obliging. Here's what happened to me.
Now you all know about when Clubmom put out their call for bloggers, right? A ripple, a veritible ripple of excitement shimmered through the momblogger community. Well, I missed that ripple. Or mostly. I didn't hear about the excitement until Kik (Kik, where oh where are you?) sent me an email with a link to the announcement and a suggestion that I apply.
So I thought about it. And I thought some more. And Kristin and I talked about it. It was exciting to think about getting PAID for what I do anyway. And it was exciting to think about reaching a larger audience. But mostly it was exciting to think about bringing the voice of a lesbian mother to a group of people who had probably never heard of a lesbian mom outside of sensationalized newspaper accounts of tragic legal proceedings.
But mostly I was scared. I tend to self-sabotage things like this. The thought of am I smart enough, funny enough, entertaining enough, sensitive enough, thick-skinned enough, lesbian enough, mainstream enough, insightful enough, GOOD ENOUGH to do something like this? To put myself and my family out there. So I read the description of what they were looking for. And I reread it. And I had Kristin read it. And we talked some more. And then I decided to go for it. I decided that I was tired of shortchanging myself.
In my proposal, I offered all of myself. I told them that "I am a mother who has not given birth, who is not allowed to adopt. I am mother whom a great many people would not think of as a mother. I offer my family, my experiences, my love, my pain, my joy to the Clubmom women as a way to add to the diversity of motherhood and to let previously unheard voices and visions of family take a place in the dialogue fostered by Clubmom." Or something like that. In addition, I pointed out to them that I filled many of their desired categories: I was TTC, we were in the middle of a large remodel, we were planning a cross-country move. All of these things were suggested blog topics. I included links to three of the posts that friends and readers of this blog had suggested were among my best. I wrote a new post as an example of what I would write for them. (Later I posted that essay here, so you didn't miss out on anything). One post that people had enthusiastically suggested that I submit I did not include. Kristin and I decided that, though once I got started I would not shy away from the harder emotional realities of life as queers, in the beginning I would show them a less politicized version of myself. I regret that decision now.
Anyway, I sent off my little email-application, and sat back to wait for my rejection (I have never been considered an optimist). It was a long time in coming. See, they DIDN'T reject me. At least, not right away. I got an email stating that they were very impressed by my writing, but they had been overwhelmed and pleased by the overall quality of the responses to their call. They had more wonderful writers than they knew what to do with. They told me that though they didn't have room for me in their first wave of bloggers, they very much wanted to work with me. Perhaps in a more limited fashion, with a smaller reimbursement offer. They asked me to be patient while they got the first blogs set up and started, and they would contact me in May with an offer. They asked me to keep the contents of that email secret.
So I did. I felt really good at the time. I felt wanted. I felt vindicated! But as time passed and they didn't communicate with me again, that feeling of vindication eased away. I watched more and more clubmom blogs start up. I started paying attention to the voices that had been chosen. And I noticed that there seemed to be an overwhelming Christian bias to the blogs. Out of the 4 blogs that speak of spirituality, as Liza pointed out, 2 are Christian, one uses the word "spirit" and derivitives thereof, and one is ambiguous. That's not a very diverse spiritual representation there. As if Moms are either Christian, or some mysterious other, or not interested in religion/spirituality at all. And though I try really hard not to categorically dismiss "Christians" as homophobic hate-mongers (no, really, I DO try not to! I have plenty of Christian friends, I do! And they're not ALL bad! Honest!) being stuck in limbo-land and watching as Clubmom paid women to blog about being Christian started to give me a bad feeling.
Perhaps if there were other alternative-type families being represented I wouldn't have felt so funny. But as far as I could see (and remember, this was back in June when it was just getting started, though it doesn't seem much better now) the types of families represented seemed pretty homogenous. They had different trials, different circumstances, but none of them seemed really to challenge prevailing main-stream beliefs about what it means to be a family, what it means to be a mom. I mean, if queers are 10% of the population (to pull that old statistic out of my ass) then shouldn't 10% of the clubmom blogs reflect that? If they really were trying to reach out to all moms?
So, I wasn't surprised when I finally got a rejection. A short little email informing me that clubmom wanted to focus their efforts on their current crop of blogs and that they couldn't work with me at all, but would keep me in mind if they ever found themselves having more room for bloggers. I understood that, this was a big endeavor they were attempting and I am nothing if not sympathetic to overextension. I replied very politely that I was still interested and hoped to work with them sometime in the future. And have watched with more and more disgust as clubmom added more blogs, none of which have done much to increase the diversity of families represented.
Now, some of those blogs I LOVE. And I am certainly NOT picking on the clubmom bloggers. Those women are doing what they want to do and what they (hopefully) love. I wish we could ALL get paid for blogging. I don't think any of them SHOULDN'T be blogging and SHOULDN'T be getting paid. My beef is with the administration for choosing to exclude an entire demographic of mothers. And they did choose to do that. I have no doubt that I am not the only lesbian mom to apply for a blogging position with them. If it were just that they didn't like me, or didn't think I was clubmom material, I'm sure there were others to choose from. In fact, Liza says that she offered to write for them, too. No. As far as I'm concerned it's a deliberate choice. And one I am deeply disappointed in.
So there you have it. I have written clubmom another email pointing out what I think is an egregious oversight and suggesting myself (as well as other bloggers I know and love) as ways they could correct that oversight. But haven't heard anything back. I don't expect to.