Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Drivel

Someone somewhere had shared an article called "Just ignore my kid's meltdown - please," and I thought, OK, another one to keep track of for the parental-overshare files. But no! That's not what it is at all! Exactly all that we learn about Bethany Mandel's child is that he or she is four months old and has been on an airplane. And that, even by my stringent standards, doesn't constitute parental overshare.

A headline writer took some liberties, it seems, and referenced an entirely theoretical tantrum.  If anything, it's an anti-overshare piece. Mandel's real beef is with the people who observe a child they don't know mid-tantrum and decide to film it. But that headline got that way because - I suspect - overshare sells. I mean, I clicked on this thing because that's what I thought it was, although in my defense, I keep track of that genre with the end goal of stopping it. I was pleased to see it was something else.

Note: I'm not Googling the author to see if she's parentally-overshared elsewhere. What interests me is the headline implying overshare where there is none.

What also interests me, though, is her bio: "Bethany Mandel, a New Jersey-based stay-at-home mom, writes on politics and culture." Now, we all get to identify as we see fit, and I'm not the bio-police. But it would seem that if you write on politics and culture, even if you're doing so from your home, and even if you're multitasking that with bringing up your children, you could, if you wanted to, use something like "writer" or "journalist." Would a man who writes about lofty topics and has also reproduced define himself in this way?

It could also be a time-ratio thing, of course, although "writes" suggests this isn't her first attempt. But what struck me about it was mostly that I'd just been reading a different piece, one by a male writer, the gist of which was that because literary agents don't like his manuscript, the marketplace will only accept drivel. And as I was reading that one, all I could think was how incredibly unlikely it was that a woman would have that level of confidence. A woman would think the problem was that her writing was drivel. I've even heard rumors of women who have literary agents, who persist in the belief that their writing is drivel. But then again, if said dude is correct about the marketplace, it would kind of have to be!

2 comments:

Daniel said...

I don't know if the writer was religious, but conservative catholic and evangelical women (and occasionally men) tend to lead with parental status. http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/AboutMe.htm has an unusually self-conscious example.

Phoebe said...

Daniel,

She appears to be Jewish and conservative. So yes, it may be a political statement, which complicates matters. A secular/liberal woman might be more likely to call herself the professional-sounding title, even if she's spending 90% of the time doing something more domestic. Might...