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Summary: Morrison’s “Suffused by Feeling and Affect”

In this article, Aimée Morrison discusses the link between “the story of the self and the broader public discourses” in personal mommy blogging, as well as aligns and diverges from Lauren Berlant’s ideas on women’s culture (37).

Personal mommy blogs “operate as intimate publics” where women are involved in self-expression and community development (38). They have limited audience size (five to one hundred readers) and “limited participation in remunerative blogging practices” (i.e. advertising, paid reviews, marketing junkets, etc) (38).

Morrison aligns herself with Berlant’s ideas by arguing that personal mommy blogging allows writers emotional release, and “the development of a satisfying and coherent group identity,” where they can contextualize and adapt their personal experience as mothers (41). Personal mommy bloggers experience an emotional reciprocity, where they build a relationship of trust with their readers and other bloggers through a “mutual self-disclosure, reciprocal reading and commenting, and shared practices” that emphasize a community cause (44). These bloggers share a “non-hierarchical intimate network among bloggers that allows each to feel an equality of position and participation,” which builds on this relationship of reciprocity (45).

Personal mommy blogger communities are small in scale, unlike texts Berlant reads. Personal mommy bloggers create a particular audience that “promotes an intimate space in their community” (46). They manage settings on blogs so they “will not be indexed by major search engines,” and misspell words so blogs are less searchable (i.e. b00bs instead of boobs), and do not label photographs (46). They filter an undesirable audience by allowing access to their blogs only through referrals (i.e. from a blogger profile) and hyperlinks (following links to another writer’s blog).

However, personal mommy blogging faces the same difficulties that Berlant feels plague women’s culture: it is unable to act in a broader public sphere to effect social change. Bloggers choose to be discreet about their identity because they do not want to jeopardize “their standing or roles in the world” (i.e. risk employment, child custody, divorce, etc) (47-48). As a result, it becomes difficult for them to mobilize political action. However some have effected social change. For instance, Shannon Smith’s blog mobilized public protest against the store that asked her to stop breastfeeding in public, and as a result of the press covered, she received an apology (49-50).

Works Cited

Aimée Morrison. ““Suffused by Feeling and Affect”: The Intimate Public of Personal Mommy Blogging.”Biography 34.1 (2011): 37-55. Project MUSE. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

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