Moms online

I was reading through a BabyCenter discussion yesterday on whether slogans, ranging from “I still live with my parents” to “The condom broke,” are funny or inappropriate on babies’ and kids’ clothes. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions, but what struck me was the diversity of responses the post generated. I think of BabyCenter as being a fairly suburban, upper-middle-class website, from all the hawking of Maclaren strollers and doula services and “fab mom” gear, and yet the responses on this topic were all over the place.

There were responses that I recognized as coming from very young moms, like some of my students: “BE ALL THE U CAN BE DAT’S DA BEST MAMMA.” There were also responses saying things like, “Since my husband is very involved in our church council, we have to be careful about the image we project in public.” There were very crass statements, like from those who did think that “The condom broke” was hilarious. And, perhaps most bizarrely to me, multiple posts from mothers who have taken their babies to horror conventions and purchased some of this merchandise there. (Seriously, horror cons? First of all, “-con geek” and “mom” strike me as sort of fundamentally paradoxical, but that’s probably just my bias in thinking that -con geeks can’t get laid. But secondly, who takes a baby to a convention, particularly for horror? “Hey, kid, get a load of the different fake bloods over here! Scared yet?”)

I realize that mothers come from every corner of society, obviously. There are few requirements for reproduction (all evidence to the contrary, in our case). I guess what surprised me was the diversity of moms on this particular site. I think of the Internet as playing host to niches of people that gravitate like toward like: programmers over here on Slashdot, high school and college kids over there on Facebook, and a particular type of mom on BabyCenter. Clearly, “mother” is its own category, though, and joining the club of motherhood trumps other boundaries, whether they be educational, taste-based, or even moral.

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