Two promises. Firstly, that after this I really am off on my holidays. And secondly, this is the last time you’ll see Liz Jones mentioned on my blog. Two posts in two days is more than enough, but I was already half way through writing this when I got Motherventing’s brilliant guest post through. Hers was farking hilarious. Mine is just a bit ranty. Sorry.
Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. Even a stab in the dark sometimes finds its target. And even a batty old bint like Liz Jones occasionally writes something that we shouldn’t write off entirely just because it was her wot wrote it.
Attendees of Mumsnet Blogfest (and indeed many non-attending parent bloggers) spent most of Sunday raging about a post that lovely Liz had written in the Mail. Some of them – like Cambridge Mummy and Ageing Matron– wrote extremely good blog posts about it.
But was the post really worthy of our outrage and ire? I’m not convinced.
I mentioned it to DorkyDad on Sunday night, and passed him my computer so that he could read the article. He hooted with laughter, and by the time he’d got to the end, and read out a couple of pertinent sentences, I was almost crying with laughter too. There is nobody who is more supportive of my blog than DorkyDad. No-one more willing to boost my ego by telling me when I’ve written a decent post. But something in that article resonated with him, and on second reading it resonated with me too.
We should always be able to laugh at ourselves, and if we lose our ability to do that it’s a worrying thing. The best thing to do with the Liz Jones article would have been to have a giggle at it, and then instantly forget about it. If we lose our ability to poke fun at ourselves, then we will end up as out-of-touch and conceited as her, spouting lines like “I’m sorry – but I do consider myself an artist.”
But we haven’t done that. We have made a big fuss about it and driven lots of traffic her way. We have taken her seriously, and with that in mind, I think we need to do a little soul-searching to work out why.
Just because we don’t like the way she said it doesn’t mean she wasn’t saying something worth hearing. My instinct is that if you strip the hyperbole out of that article, she is not saying anything we have not said to ourselves on numerous occasions.
We DO need to use our blogs for good. We DO need to sometimes switch off the computer and pay more attention to our families. There ARE some really dull blogs out there which are poorly written and full of crap amateur photography. And on that note, we CAN be hideously bitchy and competitive at times.
(You don’t think so? Then why is there such a drama every month when the Tots scores come out and we discover that we’ve dropped down the league table? Why are there now FIVE different Facebook groups for Parent Bloggers to post in, because we couldn’t all play nicely in just one of them?)
The reason it has gone down so badly is that she is not one of us.
There are many, many wonderful things about the parent blogging community. I am proud to be a part of it, and it brings immense pleasure to my life. But there are some silly bits too, and I’m slightly ashamed that it has taken an article in the Mail to make me reflect on that.
I’m ashamed that we were only prompted to criticise the Mail in any great numbers when the Mail decided to criticise us.
As a friend said on Facebook last night, when I mentioned the number of posts that had been written about the Liz Jones article yesterday, “There are so so many things I wish women would be up in arms about, and what one Daily Mail columnist thinks about cupcakes is not one of those things…”
After a couple of days pondering it, I am inclined to agree.
Liz Jones, along with numerous other columnists, has been writing bile in the Mail for years. It is a racist, misogynistic rag, which spreads lies and misinformation about women, asylum seekers, benefit claimants, Muslims and just about every other minority in the country.
At least when they have a pop at us, our blogs provide an easy way to publish our right to reply. What about the people who don’t have that right to reply – the people who have been the target of the Mail’s vitriol for the last few years with no opportunity to respond? Why haven’t we been so outraged about that?
It would be all too easy to shrug off the points made in Liz Jones’ column as the ridiculous ramblings of an outsider, and return to our blogs without thinking about how we can improve them.
But it would be more interesting, I think, to see her post as a challenge. To be more ambitious, more united, and more willing to take advantage of the opportunities our blogs provide.
My only note to Liz Jones is a word of caution. She should be careful what she wishes for. If the blogging community does close its laptops and set aside its knitting to rise up and take on a campaigning role, the paper that employs her may well be our first target.
Photo credit: Anna Brown