Ladies, We Are Only Hurting Ourselves.

There was another Twitter fight last night.

This time, over the fact that a mommyblogger is going to the White House to discuss flexibility in the workplaces. Apparently she is not representative enough, not replicable, too successful… oh, and probably too tall and skinny to boot.

Last time I checked, Heather used to work as a web developer, got fired for writing her blog, and then slowly – yes, slowly – built her media empire over the last decade.

Her blog has enormous popularity, but her company itself has 3 employees – herself, her husband and an assistant she hired about a year ago. My company, started roughly the same time her blog started to take off, has 35 employees and is the 60th largest woman-owned company in Colorado.

Who is better suited to tell the White House about small business?


Not JUST because of her personal experience, but because of her ACCESS to all of us.

Ladies, I am generally not a GIRLPOWER! kind of gal who always puts women first no matter what. But we do ourselves a disservice to bitch and moan when one of our sisters has a great opportunity and all we do is question her right to be there. Yes, there are people who get picked for stuff time and again. Yes, some of them do NOT deserve it. But do YOUR thing and someday someone will see it.

In the meantime, cheer on the people who cheer for us.

This article has 71 comments

  1. Boston Mamas

    Aimee, well put. I hopped on Twitter last night to check in and got so depressed seeing the toxicity about this matter that I quickly left. The bashing behavior not only is embarrassing and unseemly but it is totally unproductive. As you astutely say, yes, people should focus on doing their thing instead of trying to bash the achievements of others.

  2. Mom101

    I’m just so thrilled that a MOM BLOGGE–and a smart, thoughtful one at that–is once again going to the White House. First Loralee, now Heather.

    How awesome to show the world that our blogs can lead to really amazing things, including a voice in the political system.

  3. zipper

    Go Aimee, go.

  4. Amanda

    There seems to be an abundance of sour grapes in the world of late. Pity. Let’s choose to hear the positive and let the other stuff loll in its own funk.

  5. sam {temptingmama}

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I think Heather is a great choice because of her following. What other blogger out there can reach the numbers she does? Not many.

    Great post, Amiee!

  6. Stephanie

    I missed the mess, and I’m glad of it! I’ll gladly cheer on any mom getting such an opportunity.

  7. Amanda

    I don’t think the question was about Heather’s qualifications, but why she was picked.

  8. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Damn, Holly – why didn’t you write the post for me???


    Excellent post Aims. People should learn to be happy for others.

    And this is an excellent point made by Maria Melee

    “What really gets me upset about this entire argument is that ultimately, those who TRULY need to be spoken are the ones who don’t have the luxury of spending time on Twitter fighting about it.”

  10. jonniker

    I fail to see how comments critically asking what the forum is about, and is this our best representative? can be construed as a Twitter fight. Maybe I was witnessing a different discussion, but I didn’t see anyone in my group say anything negative about her or her situation, just that perhaps it was an odd choice, given how many women struggle MUCH more than she does with this issue.

    Honestly, that language (“Twitter fight”), and the notion that criticism of any kind — even constructive comments that were not in any way critical of Heather’s work ethic, professional situation or personality — was viewed as “bashing” or somehow being presented against women is worse than the original comments.

    I’m angry that some of my comments are being read as bashing. I’m angry that my words were re-tweeted by you in a snarky, snide way without you addressing it with me directly.

    But most of all, I’m disappointed that even when a situation isn’t as bad as it’s being presented, it’s viewed as lady-on-lady hate.

    I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am in how it all went down last night, and I don’t think, if I may say so, my questioning of what examples are most appropriate for which topics, was in any way inappropriate or “bashing.”

    I like Heather. I think she does great things for us — for everyone. I also like myself, and I recognize that I would not be the best representative in that situation, either. And by saying that, I’m not devaluing a damn thing about either one of us.

    And finally, what MariaMelee said is dead-on.

  11. helenjane

    Thank you Aimee. I’m cheering for any presidential flexible workplace discussion from over here. Heather’s as great a representative as I can think of.

  12. Alli Worthington

    Luckily I missed the bruhaha.

    The last thing the community of women online need is public ugliness. Why must every thought be launched publicly. Forethought and discretion are two things sadly missing on Twitter.

    And on a happier note, it was fab to finally meet you at SXSW. 🙂

  13. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Helen and others – exactly. Love that we’re even *talking* about flexibility in the workplace. What a cool forward-thinking thing to do.

  14. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    And Alli – yes! Another tall one!

  15. Anonymous

    I agree with Jonniker and Maria. It is OK w questioning why, it is not about tearing them down.

  16. Megan

    Oh, Aimee – SOOOO with you on this one. Sick of everyone having to tear others down to make themselves feel better. Go Heather!

  17. Beth in SF

    I can’t imagine anyone ragging on Heather for that. How sore loser is that? Why can’t women be happy for other women? It’s like we don’t really have that gene or something. Sad.

  18. María

    Katie (motherbumper) stole my comment. Dammit. I agree with you, and this post, but also with Maria above. I didn’t read any of the tweets last night, and I’m happy for that – I don’t follow anyone that jumps on her for everything she does. I can’t take those people, they’re bullies, plain and simple.

  19. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Jonniker, I am sorry if the word “Twitter fight” was too harsh. It was easier than saying “a period of time where a ton of women threw tweets back and forth that sounded really aggro to me.” Or maybe I was missing something and it really should be “Twitter Fight Club” and then we can all fight over who gets to be Edward Norton to Heather’s Brad Pitt. Hmmm. Edward Norton.

    The point is, why didn’t anyone start sending tweets like, “here is my situation, Heather.” “This is an example of how hard it is to flex my time, Heather.” “I can’t get insurance because of this, Heather.”- ??

    It was all about how unqualified she was to represent us as a group.

    Well, here’s the thing. I actually think she is a great match to represent us, because she sees both side of the coin.

    While she has an extremely wide audience to tap into, and get opinions from – AND she has a small private workplace that doesn’t have much buying power. I don’t know their personal details – but, for example, I imagine they struggle to find a 401k carrier. *I* was able to tell *ING* to eff off last year and get my employees better returns elsewhere. No matter how hard Heather tweets, she will not pull that off. So she knows how hard it is to provide for employees in flexible workplace situations.

    And, yes, I know – because the emails have already started – that this post seems like just another kiss Heather’s ass scenario – but honestly the discourse really upset me last night. We have all this pressure to be successful, to find ways to make it work, and someone breaks through and for all intents and purposes, crosses the finish line, clearing a path for those behind her – and her *success* makes her not a good example to discuss workplace policy? I am sorry. But that really really sucks.

  20. jonniker

    Truthfully, I would have been fine with that conversation last night — the one about the actual issues, frankly. Our comments were brief and offhand about how we hoped other sides would be represented in some way. But instead of people responding to us by talking about issues, there was an IMMEDIATE accusation that we were somehow unsupportive or jealous and saying WHY she’s perfect! for! this! And she’s so awesome! And talented! And works so hard!

    Frankly, no one — not one person — in the tweets I was a part of last night denied any of that, or even said a negative word about her. Not one.

    The reaction was really out of line, and I don’t think it was remotely in proportion from the few offhand (literally OFFHAND) comments that started it. Instead of being able to have a discussion about the real issues, those of us who were all, “Well, interesting! I hope…” were stuck defending ourselves against the general feeling that we were part of the “hate” and “just jealous” and tearing down women. Those accusations are extremely harsh and unfair, and just because it feels righteous doesn’t mean it’s right.

    I was thrilled — THRILLED — when Loralee went to Washington to represent her issues in health care. I. was. thrilled. She brilliantly represented a voice that she had a tremendous amount of experience in, and she represented a ton of people by making sure their voices were heard, too.

    I hope Heather does the same. I also hope larger employers are represented — ones that can speak and help for larger groups of women. I hope that there are women there who can speak to how hard it is to manage a commute and dueling careers and sick children. People who can’t afford to hire an assistant to take care of their recycling and other home matters while they manage their work and life. People who have to answer to an employer other than themselves.

    I don’t think those are unfair hopes. And that is, frankly, all that was said when the entire thing started. But instead of saying, hey, I hope she asks people too or, you’re right! There are so many different situations!, people jumped all over us with why we were wrong to hope that, and why we were small and petty. There were @ replies with sweeping statements directed towards me that implied things I never said, copying Dooce so that it appeared as though I was slandering her to a large group of people. That was uncool behavior, period, I don’t care if you hide it under the guise of standing up for women. I’m a woman too, and mistreating me, and others, with dissenting opinions is not the way to solve things.

    For example, instead of talking about how awful it was that things went down, we could be talking about the different types of situations that should be represented in Washington. The kinds that we hope will be. For my part, I gave a few examples, and frankly, that’s all I was trying to say.

  21. ZDub

    I also missed the mess (SO GLAD) and you my friend?

    You are a class act.

  22. Jerry Deese

    And that is why I keep my twitter locked down to nothing but lemmings who hang on my every word and agree with me 100% of the time. Thanks mom!

    Oh wait…

  23. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Jerry – LOL!!!!

    And you all – even people who don’t agree with me – you all rock. I really appreciate this blog as a place to express myself, thanks.

  24. melissa

    Good call. What an exciting opportunity for her!

  25. Burgh Baby

    I managed to miss the whole thing, which I think speaks to the fact that the people I follow tend to stay out of the drama instead of perpetuating it. Thank goodness!

    I’m still trying to figure out how “we” can get upset about who or who is not invited to a discussion around this topic. Can’t we just be OVER THE MOON EXCITED that the White House is even looking at the issue? I know I am . . .

  26. Laura

    So well stated, Aimee.

  27. EatPlayLove

    Kick a sister while she’s up? This may come as a surprise but I agree with you Aimee, 100%. We need to wake up and start praising the achievements of other women. I am happy to report I missed the negativity.

    Btw, maybe there’s room for you! You should be proud.

  28. Maria Melee

    From where I was watching, and I probably missed some of the hateful tweets you’re referring to, it looked like questions were being shut down with the “just support Heather” argument.

    Part of a forum, part of this issue, part of being in the workforce, part of being a woman is embracing diverse opinions.

    I’m happy for Heather and I do think she has access to the voices of many, but I agree with those who simply hoped aloud that other life situations would be represented and spoken directly for.

    What really gets me upset about this entire argument is that ultimately, those who TRULY need to be spoken are the ones who don’t have the luxury of spending time on Twitter fighting about it.

  29. Holly

    This is an amazing chance for the women blogging community to show its power.

    Why not use our voices to send a message to the White House about what we care about rather than to shout-down one of our own.

    This isn’t just an opportunity for Heather, it’s an opporunity for all of us.

    Every time a woman blogger is taken seriously, it’s a positive for all of us.

  30. JK @ HandsOn Network

    Preach it, Aim!

  31. Family Sized Fun

    like any of us doesn’t have have legitimate crap to wade through,
    and some of us need to throw our crap at others.

    heathers perfect for the job.
    i hope she farts and says the f word.

  32. motherbumper

    Oh so true. When I see the bashing online the first thing that pops into mind is these bashers must be jealous. But if you say that, some will scream “NOOOO that’s not true” but guess what? That’s how it looks. Is it really that hard to support each other in our accomplishments? Personally I’m very happy for her and others who have achieved other amazing things.

  33. Catootes

    I don’t have an opinion on what happened on Twitter, mostly because I wasn’t there.

    What I do find, in regard to public opinions, is that there is not a larger respect for differing views. I see this daily in the politics of the local school board. If one view is different than the next persons, it becomes an us against them mentality.

    This is why there is often no compromise on ideals. It’s a shame.

    As a working mom and a blogger, If the whole exposure of workplace felxibility can be brought to a large audience, than I’m glad for Heather and I hope the White House and subsequent public conversation can bring about some changes so working parents and corporations can achieve positive benefits equally. And that is my Pollyanna view on things.

  34. Stacey

    Great post Aimee. Thanks for speaking up.

  35. Cheryl

    Don’t twitter and now I’m thoroughly grateful I don’t. Kudos to Heather. Thanks Aimee for passing this on.

  36. vincent

    I am proud of Heather- and of you, along with any other women who can be included as role models for my two daughters… WOW!!! What is wrong with this picture? I have always felt like to some degree women are sometimes not supportive of one another often enough! I agree with the hurting ourselves…

  37. chloebear

    Great discussion…thanks for the post.

  38. St

    Great post. I’m sure Heather has uber fans but because I mostly follow mommy bloggers, all I see is the hate. While they may insist there was nothing wrong with what they were saying I think it is wrong to immediately jump to “why she doesn’t deserve it”. Whether or not she’s the best person for this may be subjective but she’s going, so how about we make the most of it? And if it’s not mean-spirited… well, how would they feel if people were saying these things about them?

  39. Mom101

    In fairness Jonniker, there were some reasonable questions from people like you and Maria, and then there was plenty of snark and negative comments in the discussion.

    As I recall, Anna tweeted that Kathie Lee Gifford or Brittney Spears would be better choices.

    Is that “fighting?” Well, it’s deliberate provocation.

  40. jonniker

    Please. If all of this is honestly about Anna’s comments, that’s silly. Her reaction was as predictable as the sunrise, for that’s what she does, and everyone knows and should accept it. And if you don’t, then engage with her directly.

  41. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Ha. I thought I was engaging on my blog. Weird.

  42. -R-

    Rude comments about Dooce would have been inappropriate. People stating their opinions that Dooce might not be the most representative person to talk about workplace flexibility was totally fine. I’m not sure why you’re trying to act like other people created drama here.

  43. Adele

    I think she was very poor choice and not a representative of someone whom has to deal with workplace flexibility. It’s solely about her being popular. I’m allowed to not like who was chosen to represent me, an I not?

    By now you’ve see the video. Heather seemed to not fit in, didn’t really offer much up compared to others, and really had an agenda on her plate. She wanted to talk about health care dilema. Where was she speaking up for us workign moms? I was awestruck honestly that a company (Armstrong Media) with two employees who makes nearly 800,00+ a year can’t offer her employees even Kaiser or some low cost insurance? Wouldn’t want her to be my boss, now we understand why Katey left.

  44. kakaty

    yes, I agree that we are hurting ourselves. We are hurting ourselves by not demanding to know WHY the WH chose a wealthy, self-employeed woman with no employees to represent a working parent in America. Is she going to fire herself or her husband for not showing up on time due to a school delay? Is she going to be put on a written notice for having a kid get sick one too many times? How many of her readers have ever been able to have BOTH parents do school drop-off and pick-up? Nothing I saw last night was an affront to Heather or what she and Blurb have built – it was questioning WHY was she chosen to represent any working parents as her situation is such a unique one.

    Love that the blogging community was represented…but let’s be honest here, how many bloggers (of any gender) can support their entire family with their blog? And in comparison to the American population, who do those few represent? The number is so small I see this only as an attempt for some media play by the WH (for the record, I’m a fan of the current administration, but this whole thing smells like a media play).

    The entire thing would have had much more credibility if someone who works full time for a larger company was selected (Sundry, Mom101, Foodmomiac… lots of them come to mind). And that’s the fault of the WH, not Heather or any other blogger.

    The fact that posts like this one are up today just feed into the whole “mommy blogger fight” stereotype that everyone has come to expect. We are hurting ourselves, indeed.

  45. jonniker

    Thank you, Anna and Katy. Both of you made points I was trying to make, but much more effectively.

    Thank you.

  46. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Interesting perspective Deb. I do care about people’s differing opinions – as I stated earlier in the comments… I just feel like, lately the blogosphere has been quick to judge every little thing rather than celebrating the successes. It gives someone trying to accomplish things very little to look forward to.

  47. sweetsalty kate

    Kindness and celebration are always good, but I agree with Deb’s disagreement. I don’t expect to be propped nor ridiculed nor celebrated nor diminished because of my gender.

    And so I don’t feel obligated to hail the choice of Dooce without pause. I also don’t feel obligated to advance towards what some people would consider to be a tall-poppy head with censorious ego scissors.

    My opinion of Dooce’s suitability for a Washington visit – which depends entirely on Washington’s intentions – is not determined by the fact that we wear the same kind of underwear.

    Well. Wait.

    I’m going to make the assumption that her underwear is way kinkier than mine. She’s from Utah.

  48. Kerri Anne

    Well said, Katy (kakaty).

    The moment we forsake honest discourse (and, gasp! questions and doubt) about our very dynamic and diverse online community in favor of mindless flattery* is the day our community starts looking like a joke.

    *To clarify, Aimee, I’m not saying you are mindlessly flattering Heather. But I’m saying that it’s a tendency I’ve seen consistently for years whenever anything to do with Heather is discussed. And someone having to instantly defend themselves against a slew of people who won’t allow anything negative to be said about Heather (or x,y,z topic of choice) doesn’t leave a lot of room for meaningful discussion.

  49. sweetsalty kate

    DAMMIT. I just made all women look like imbeciles. We are all doomed. Doomed, I say. You shouldn’t never use no ‘nor’ after sinutab. Carry on.

  50. sweetsalty kate

    Also: in calling Dooce a tall poppy, that’s not a comment on her. That’s a comment on the women who might see her that way because she’s successful.

    Sinutabism. Curses.

  51. agirlandaboy

    For my part, the sections of the conversation I saw seemed to be far more aggressive on the “defense” side than on the supposedly “anti-Heather” side–a difference which made me bristle and stand back and go “woah” because when the side saying “Be nice!” is saying it in an aggressive way? Yuck. Yucky yuck yuck. The offhand comments that started the mess, though? They were offhand comments, not aggressive, not disparaging to Heather or “the sisterhood.” (And if others used those inital tweets as a springboard for getting nasty, that’s hardly the fault of the people who opened up the discussion, is it?)

    I’m all for discussion and disagreement (okay, fine, I wish we could all just get along and hold hands!), but I wish it were easier for everyone to engage with calm, understanding, respectful voices AND to read what others think with calm, understanding, respectful, and open minds.

  52. Jim

    I think the point that Aimee was making is that women go into catfight mode sometimes rather than support each other and you miss opportunities to present a united front. That is not discourse, or constructive criticism – it’s just a bunch of noise and mud-slinging – which most of these comments have been – and the twitter streams that I went and looked at after reading here. So, at the risk of sounding sexist – you all just proved Aimee’s point.

  53. ABDPBT

    Actually, what I posted was:

    Also on the White House workplace flexibility panel: Kimora Lee Simmons, Julia Roberts, Ivanka Trump & k.d. lang!

    And then I posted two in earnest suggestions, Sundry and (irony alert) Mom101 for the forum, since *they both work full time outside of the home* and then made another joke about how Kathy Lee Gifford WANTED to go, but she couldn’t get time off from the Today show. See what I did there? Comedy.

    I also clarified, many times, that what I was saying was that Heather going, as a wealthy internet celebrity with no employees (newsflash, the assistant was fired), is absurd from an experiential point of view. I can see it from a community leader or even a small business standpoint, but as someone balancing a homelife with an employer? No. And I said that I would be an equally stupid choice.

    Honestly, some of these arguments are embarrassing, for educated women. And if anyone’s problem is with me, you might link to me or send me an email and I’d be happy to clear up any misconceptions as quickly as possible.

    But then, it might be hard to foster a histrionic “Me Too!” session were you to alert me to a conversation that I apparently inspired.

  54. Deb

    Totally disagree, even though I wasn’t involved.

    I’m not going to get into my thoughts about the Forum, because I don’t think people truly care. But I do think that dialogue and humor are great and not hurtful. We have to get hearty to it not being about feelings. If we are politics and we are the culture, we have to be able to dissect, analyze, complain, rant, reject, reinvent, skewer, all of it. Democracy, and authenticity depends on it.

    That said, I also insist that this community can never seem to discuss Dooce. We fail at it, time and again. Too bad, because we could learn a lot.

    I suggest that the Law of Dooce is the new Godwin’s Law: the minute Dooce, in person or action, is used as an example otherwise rational discussion is a (virtual) impossibility.

  55. SLynnRo

    I fail to see how taking a side against a woman is a big old jump to a conclusion. And I really fail to see how the criticism of Dooce as a representative parent/working mom can be considered unfounded in any way. I just keep seeing the same old refrain- JELUS! That to me is the only conclusion being jumped to here.

  56. Kerry

    This HAS to be some sort of April Fool’s joke.

    I mean, we’re protesting the “bashing” of one woman by bashing a whole bunch of woman? This is feminism? Really?

    And we’re gonna do so in the most passive-aggressive way possible (no links! no full names!), so as to play into as many female stereotypes as we can? Really?

    Because yes, the smartest response to woman who disagree is “sit down and shut up, honey.”

    And supporting anyone with a vagina for a particular job, whether or not they’re qualified…that’s an AWESOME way to advance woman. What could possibly go wrong with that strategy?


  57. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    I didn’t name names because I rarely do. It is not my MO. It honestly never occurred to me, and I am surprised how many people seem to think I should have. See, to me THAT would have been bashing people to support one woman. The point of this was we, as women – and as a society, tend to build people up just to tear them down, which makes me very very sad. A point that got lost, or I didn’t make it well enough. Everyone seems to have taken it as either: 1. support girls (Heather in particular) no matter what and 2. shut up about it if you disagree. Neither of those last two points was the main goal of this post.

  58. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    And meanwhile – if you really want to be offended, go read my gay post from yesterday. 😉

  59. Headless Mom

    I missed all of this but you put a PERFECT perspective on it.

    Well said, Aimee.

  60. Miss Britt

    I’m torn on this because, sadly, as women we DO still have a need to form some kind of united front in society.

    And yet, I don’t think honest discussion and even disagreement should be automatically dismissed because it may show a crack in the armor of that front.

    And for what it’s worth:

    Dooce as a “representative” of someone struggling with work-life balance makes no sense.

    Dooce as a way to get media attention to women about the forum?


    I feel like Patrick Swayze should come on screen now and say “no, that’s the thing Baby, they were using ME.”

  61. amy

    I have to agree with Anna and those of like mind. It is ridiculous the amount of blind support Heather gets and defense when anyone remotely goes, “WTF?” when she gets yet another call for something like this.

    When she posted the other day about going to the WH, I immediately thought what many others did…”Um, she works at home with her husband! What is more freakin’ flexible than that??” Was she supposed to talk about how her situation is ideal and what to strive for? Because if she was supposed to be there to talk about something negative she experiences…that would be laughable!

    She has nothing that imposes ANY strain on her for work. Not ONE thing. She had an assistant, hires her niece to watch her kids a few times a week, leaves her children with the huge amount of family just around the corner whenever she needs to travel. Hell, she even gets to travel for work with her spouse (how many of us ever get to do that?) I mean, get serious.

    But, like others said, she was chosen because she is known. And this is the ONLY reason she was chosen. Not sure what agenda the WH had in making her a selection for the forum, but they did and it seemed, well, pointless. She didn’t offer up anything remarkable or even impressive.

    And I’m gonna take it one step further, since I really could care less about Heather’s role at all in the forum other than it was pointless…why was it only a forum about women?? Doesn’t equal rights mean addressing all those involved? There are plenty of single fathers or hell, just fathers in general, who don’t get any flexibility in their jobs. I’d argue in fact they get much less than women because they are often times not seen as critical in child rearing by society today. If I was a man, I’d be pissed.

  62. Anonymous

    Wow. Talk about beating a subject into the ground. Just wanted to send hugs, Aimee. -m

  63. Marcy of The Glamorous Life

    ABDPBT is absolutely without doubt 100% right in her twitter comments.

    Nothing she said was flaming or inaccurate.

    Asking Dooce to be on the panel is a huge HUGE insult to REAL working women. You know women you have to wake before dawn put something in the crock pot for dinner, does two loads of laundry so the kids have something to wear to school, make lunches pay a few bills and skip the shower because he realizes she has to get gas and go to the bank on the way to work- and something had to give. THOSE WOMEN? Where were they on the panel? Dooce? Her biggest problem is asking her lazy husband to move his butt from the couch so she can sit down and watch TV while she types. I gotta say. I am STUNNED anyone supports this decision. Good for women? HELL NO.

    It is a HUGE INSULT.

  64. Chris

    Wow, I am actually a little scared by all this. To rip somebody’s life apart and to say they don’t deserve to be rewarded is just wrong. What’s next, attack Michelle Obama and say that she does not deserve to be in the white house? I mean, what did she do to get there. I don’t recall anybody voting for her to be the First Lady. And some of you defend your right to freedom of speech to be able to question whether Heather is a good choice or not but then attack Aimee for exercising her right to freedom of speech. Remember, this is HER blog, she can do with it as she sees fit. And Heather, remember, do not fart unless the President farts first!!

  65. Holly

    Many folks are asking why Dooce was chosen. I have some ideas as to why.

    I was not privy to the selection process of the White House staff, but I suspect it’s similar to how brands/PR people put together a campaign. (For those who don’t know me, I am a marketing to women consultant working with brands, PR agencies and journalists)

    We’d like to think a tremendous amount of time and care went into this event. Perhaps it did. But I suspect it was one of many events/items on a busy agenda.

    When setting up an event like this, speakers are chosen because:

    1 – they are considered to be an “influencers” – aka, they have a well-known name and a lot of followers. They make good photo-ops and are a PR draw. Extra points if you are a bonafide celebrity.

    2 – they are media-ready. AKA they are comfortable on camera and speaking publicly. They are articulate and are a known-quantity – they won’t freeze up or fumble.

    3 – They are tied in to the subject matter being discussed.

    Note I use the word “tied-in”. I’m sure a white house staffer could look at Dooce and say, “hey, blogger, mom, she works – terrific.”

    Time is of the essence when putting these things together. I can’t tell you how many journalists I talk to who quote Dooce simply because she’s a known quantity in their circle. Folks often don’t have time to search for a more perfect candidate, they go with the known quantity.

    I suspect all of the above went into the selection of the panel.

    Are there women who qualify for all of the above points who would have more typical experiences of work place flexibility problems? You bet.

    So here’s my suggestion. Write to the organizers of the event, the department heads involved in the initiative, write to the journalists who have covered the event. Heck, write to the first lady herself.

    Lay out why you are uniquely qualified to address this issue. Include your blog/website stats, links to any media appearances or even just a home made video that shows you are comfortable and articulate on camera. Have a “press” section on your blog or website. Let them know you welcome calls from journalists and will respond promptly.

    I use these techniques myself and they work.

  66. Always Home and Uncool

    You want to talk about needing work place flexibility: try being a man at a Fortune 500 company (who’s not an executive) who wants to take paternity leave. Barry — call me.

  67. Maggie

    So for those who think Heather Armstrong lives such a charmed life that she was not worthy of this opportunity, who WAS worthy of going? The least fortunate mom in the world? The woman who has it the hardest? Should the White House have held a contest for the most sad-sack, hardest pressed mom in the U.S.?

  68. Emily

    I think the reason some of the twitter responses were hurtful was because people were saying, as they are in these comments, that being a web-based small business owner poses less, rather than different, challenges than working for an employer. When you say that someone’s work is somehow less difficult than yours just because it’s unknown to you, or does not pertain to a panel that little to no information has been released on yet, people are going to take offense.

    I think it would have been wise for those questioning the selection, before sending something into cyberspace for the whole world to read, to step back and think about the possibility that this web-based business probably represents a growing and valid demographic of entrepreneurs and while entrepreneurship is certainly not without its perks, it contains stress and challenges pertaining to the issue of workplace flexibility that an employee in the traditional sense does not deal with. Or think about the possibility that someone with her reach could get the word out to a lot of people and start a conversation on workplace flexibility (and she did ask people to comment with suggestions).

    Instead people blurted out “Hey! I sure hope YOU won’t be representing me! Because your job is easy and not relatable.” This comes across as assuming 1) the panel wanted this business to be the sole representative of working mothers and 2) Working mothers on a whole struggle so much more than this web-based business owner ever has.

    I think sometimes people are willing to say things over the internet that they would recognize as rude in face to face conversations, like the assumption that a web-based small business owner doesn’t have to answer to anyone, or doesn’t have an attendance requirement.

    For more on the unique challenges of establishing a small business, see here:
    and here:
    and here:
    and here:

    I don’t think this means hatred per se was directed at this particular business or its owner. I think there’s a lack of understanding and sensitivity when it comes to different job situations. I don’t think the comments were hateful, but some were definitely insensitive and misinformed. The offhanded nature of them speaks to how quick people are to post something on twitter or the like without considering how others might take offense. People like to think it’s an inconsequential brain-dump, but that is far from the case.

    Thinking it’s anything but rude to talk about a stranger’s financial earnings in a public forum is a whole other issue.

  69. dozenroses13

    I agree with you. I missed the whole showdown on Twitter you mentioned.
    What exactly does Heather’s company do??
    Does your company need anyone in Upstate NY?

  70. Heather B.

    I’ve decided to think of it this way because I’m not taking sides or anything like that. I will say that a) It wasn’t like Heather was the only person there. There were a couple hundred people in attendance and b) The White House can only start policy discussion they don’t make policy (yes, I wrote this in a post). That said I would engage with members of congress who are on the committees that pertain to labor issues (Ed and Labor in the House/HELP committee in the Senate) and see what their thoughts are on workplace flexibility.

    It’s so much easier to make real change on an issue when people come together rather than argue over who was invited where and by whom. Especially since last I checked the White House doesn’t actually make laws.

    That’s my two cents.

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