14 Sep

My Paper on Female Mormon Bloggers

Posted by Jenna, Under Religious, School

Remember when I asked you to name your favorite bloggers who were both Mormon and female? I took your suggestions, looked them up on the website Alexa to find out their traffic ranking, and then compiled a giant list of blogs written by female Mormons.

Based on what I found, the 10 blogs I chose to study for my paper (because Alexa told me they were the most highly trafficked) were: Our Best Bites (http://www.ourbestbites.com/), Two Peas & Their Pod (http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/), Oh Happy Day, (http://www.ohhappyday.com/), Design Mom (http://www.designmom.com/), Rockstar Diaries (http://taza-and-husband.blogspot.com/), The House of Smiths (http://www.thehouseofsmiths.com/), Little Green Notebook (http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/), The Daybook (http://www.thedaybookblog.com/), Little Miss Momma (http://www.littlemissmomma.com/), and Say Yes to Hoboken (http://sayyestohoboken.com/)

The first draft of my paper was 18 pages double-spaced, but my professor wasn’t thrilled with the length and made me cut it down to ten. I prefer the longer one because I really liked some of the things I had to cut out, so I’m showing you the long version here. I figure if you actually click over to read it you’re interested enough to make it through the whole thing? Maybe I’m wrong. :)

Female Mormon Bloggers – Long Version

This is still a bit rough, because I cut out 8 pages and then polished it up to hand it in, but you get the idea. I’d love to know what you think about my conclusions!

20 Comments


  1. Interesting…I’d never read/heard of any of these bloggers before except Rockstar Diaries. Reading your paper, and looking at the other websites, I’m really surprised to learn that her whole aesthetic/tone is actually a cultural phenomenon!

    You are so right that they offer up “surprisingly little information on their personal interests”. Weird since what is more personal than a blog? I don’t get any real sense of their individuality: they all seem to kind of blend together somehow. They all seem incredibly squeaky clean, upbeat (even complaint posts end on a perky note), and resolutely non-intellectual (like maybe a TV show will be mentioned, but never ideas or books or anything “hard”).

    Basically, it’s all supremely non-threatening: no mention of the tradeoffs involved in motherhood (or indeed life in general). Of course you can not work AND have plenty of disposable income to spend on fancy kitchen equipment and home decor! of course you can have a husband with a well-paying career who ALSO does lots of house chores! you can have multiple children and STILL look like a model!

    It all seems like kind of a cop-out to me, a denial that ultimately life on earth is tragic and full of pain. But maybe I’m just cynical?

    Reply

    Katie Reply:

    I don’t think you’re cynical at all: you are absolutely right.

    I have such a love/hate relationship with lifestyle blogs (and Pinterest!) for this reason. It’s all surface and no depth. It’s shiny. Pretty. Empty.

    I don’t blame any individual blogger for not wanting to talk about the tragedy, the pain, or just the daily ennui of life. It makes sense. (And I don’t think I get into much depth on my blog, either; I want nothing with high horses here!) But when an entire category of bloggers all seem to be making the same set of choices in terms of content and form, you have to start interrogating those choices.

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    Piper Reply:

    I dont think you are cynical–it seems as though many many blogs out there are superficial. I think, though, that there is also some pressure to be superficial–people read blogs for entertainment and going too deep leaves people uncomfortable. I know when I post something fluffy, my chances of comments and higher page views are a lot higher. Which means I have a very very small following since many of my posts are about my daughter (open heart surgery at 7 months old) and only other heart moms regularly want to read about “depressing” things ;) If I wanted to be a popular blogger or one that makes some money, I would have to really step back from working through my own fears and worries and create a fairy tale. And I dont even go all that deep as it is–sometimes it is just too hard to put it all into words

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  2. I enjoyed reading your paper – thanks for sharing the long version. Do you plan on sending a copy to the bloggers you featured?

    It’s interesting how you noted that not many of them feature their faith or really many personal details about themselves – in your opinion, do you think this is something that occurs as blogs grow in audience size? They might not be open to sharing so much about their selves due to possible criticism?

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  3. I would be interested in seeing conclusions on an analysis of average blogs with average readership. I think the reason why these blogs you analyzed are so generic is because they are so popular and the exact opposite…the reason the particular blogs you studied are popular is because they are so generic…the fact that they are generic makes them appeal to a wider audience. I think it’s so interesting that you chose to write a paper on this topic and it makes me think of all the different angles from which the Mormon blogger world could be studied. The fact that the top blog, Our Best Bites, is so popular would imply that nutrition is important to the women who read that blog, many of whom are undoubtably Mormon. On a food blog an analysis on content for one month is different than analyzing the content of a months worth of posts for non-food blogs because in most cases I am supposing, the readers who frequent that blog are there to reference past recipes and are not there primarily to see what the latest posts are about.

    I think the overall premise of analyzing these top blogs to gain insight into the reason Mormon women blog and what they blog about is flawed. An analysis of more average blogs would better answer this question in my opinion. The real question in analyzing the top blogs written by Mormon women is why are these blogs so popular?, who are their audiences?, etc…

    The blogs discussed in your paper are not the norm, they are the exception, and to draw conclusions about the norm from studying the exception is not a valid method of obtaining results that draw accurate conclusions.

    I have been writing about my divorce on my blog this year. Have you run across other Mormon women who are writing about that topic? If so I would love to know about them.

    I am moving to Provo and so if you are ever in town give me a holler. My kids have already started school down here and guess who is in Talmage’s kindergarten class? Stephanie Nielson’s (NieNie) son. I saw her in the car pool line in front of me the other day when it was kindergarten pick-up time and realized that she must have a kindergartener. Crazy small world no?

    I saw that Abbie’s blog was on your list of top blogs and it made me think back to when we all lived in Texas in the same ward. Wow, it seems like a different lifetime…now you are in California, she’s in NYC and I’m in the very center of the bubble:) Who would have ever predicted that?!

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  4. Is it my imagination or are there works cited in your paper which aren’t in your bibliography? Maybe it’s just the librarian in me, but I’d love to get the full citations for those works.

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    Like I said, this is the rough draft :). I took the Works Cited from my final paper and pasted this in to this rough draft – apparently they aren’t as similar as I thought!

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  5. I just read your entire paper. I am not a Morman, but find myself gravitating towards Morman women’s blogs. I have followed you since WeddingBee days. I will have to check out some of the bloggers in your paper. It always seems as though they live in this romantic, perfect world. I thoroughly enjoyed your paper. Hope you got an A!

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  6. Hey! Great article, very well written. I’m an active Mormon who also blogs but tends to be socially very liberal so I’m always a little gun shy to post things on my blog specifically about church so as not to a)misrepresent the church b) offend some of my black/white thinking mormon friends . I was in the entertainment industry for a while and despite being a “believer” I was always a little concerned about “typecasting” myself as a Mormon especially among the creative gay community within the industry. Recently, however, I’ve just decided that what I really connect to with other bloggers is their transparency and “realness”–I actually agree with Grace–that its a little disconcerting to only see the “seemingly perfect” moments of life represented in the big blogs mentioned–so I’ve started to be more authentic and open about my life. I’ve recently decided to share things about my life like my baby’s blessing and talk about the fact that I am Mormon.

    I totally agree with you on the point that Mormonism is a patriarchal society and that blogging gives females power over their narrative, I’m always a little sad that more women don’t speak in general conference and that their talks aren’t quoted in sacrament meeting as often. Not that I care to hold the priesthood, but I do think with as much as women do in the church, our overall narrative is under represented. It does make me rather sad though that so many of the big hitting blogs don’t talk as much about their personal life or life as a mormon and rather more about DIY projects, etc. I get that these blogs are money-makers and that the women who run them are essentially building a brand…I’m also sure they get more hits due to writing articles with “how to” type of content due to google algorithms for search engines rather than talking about their trials and tribulations. I follow several of the blogs you mentioned and like them, but agree that some of my favs (not mentioned) are more “real” in their portrayal of life–and also humorous.
    Another common factor that these big hitting blogs you mentioned have is most of them are blogging from a romantic or exotic local (Paris, San Fran, NYC, DC, etc) I would be interested in seeing how involved their Mormon audience is in their stats…I would think other MOrmons living in Utah might find it interesting to see how other Mormons live outside of utah.

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  7. Hi Jenna,

    I hope this note finds you doing well.

    I hope my request for information doesn’t offend you at all. That is not my intention. The thing is, I’ve been researching the LDS religion, as it is a religious group that I am fascinated by. I knew many LDS growing up and yet knew very little about the religion, other than through fairly “anti-mormon” comments and facts presented by non-LDS. Since then, I’ve been looking into Mormon history and the LDS beliefs, as well as those of other religions. I don’t do this out of a desire to “find” any particular faith for myself, but rather to understand others’ belief systems.

    With this spirit of genuine inquiry in mind, I came upon a post online about Joseph Smith and the history of his wives. The information correlated to some LDS history books I’ve read. However, I thought it would be only fair to ask an LDS what the LDS take on this information is.

    Here is a link to a graphic on the “Wives of Joseph Smith” that I was hoping to get your personal take on. I feel like you’ve given open, well thought-out responses to readers’ questions on the LDS faith in the past and was hoping you could give me your persepctive on this seemingly controversial piece of history.

    http://www.mormoninfographics.com/2012/09/the-many-wives-of-joseph-smith.html

    How do LDS members usually feel about this era of the church history? Is this a topic that is discussed or is generally regarded as being not of great importance? Is there an “official” church stance on the matter? Have the LDS perspectives on this era changed/evolved over time? Has your personal perspective changed/evolved over time (I’m thinking of your “Awakening” series here)?

    Thanks in advance!
    -Anonymous Reader

    Reply

    Anonymous Reply:

    I’m looking forward to a response :)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m glad you checked back! I’ve been talking to people about the link and planned to write you a reply but it’s going to take me a little bit to get to it. Check back in no more than two weeks? I’ve made a note on my desktop to make sure I get to it when I’m done working through my finances (I haven’t done my Mint and categorized my receipts for months! Moving is such a pain :) )

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Oh yes–moving is the worst! I hope it’s not been too awful for you and yours.

    So, I just thought I’d share with you an amazing LDS blogger (a Maori woman in New Zealand) who shared a post that I found fascinating. It’s amazing, because she articulated the questionable areas of Mormonism that non-LDS seem focused on, but that I wasn’t sure if LDS themselves also questioned. It is one of the first times that I’ve found evidence of this discussed openly on a blog and was about the types of controversial issues that I’d asked you about.

    Here is her blog and the post I’m referring to:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kiwimormon/2012/02/why-mormons-leave-the-church-a-kiwi-voice/#comments

    Thought you might find her blog interesting, too. Happy weekend. :)

    Reply

    Jenna Reply:

    I’ve heard Gina on several podcasts and I really like her perspective and her attitude.

    I haven’t seen that post before, but I really liked it. Her conversation with her YW leader mirrors those I’ve been having with other church members of late. It is deeply ingrained in some church members minds that if it isn’t produced by the Church then it’s an attempt by Satan to lure followers away and drag us down to hell. So if you bring up Joseph Smith marrying teenage girls and lying to Emma people look at you like a sinner. Really frustrating.

    I liked this sentence: To love church and its weekly possibility of transformation, but to be bored to the core with its merry-go-round, recycled, four year curriculum that offers us spiritual twinkies while we are starving for a Sunday pork roast.

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  8. I find it interesting that in your paper you are critical of behaviors of mormon bloggers that you too appear to be guilty of. I don’t recall you mentioning anything about Myanmar, North Korea, Rick Santorum or the Secret Service members. If you feel like discussion of such items should be included on mormon blogs why do you yourself not discuss them?

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  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your paper, it was also funny when my husband looked over and asked if I was reading a term paper online, and found it to be a very intriguing thesis point. I am not a regular reader of any of the blogs mentioned but I found many of the things to be true of “the big blogs”. It seems to have a large following you need to be all surface and not as much depth, or throw in a deep topic once a month and that will suffice.
    I also understand it gets hard to introduce subjects like religion, politics, and personal views on other cultural topics but for me those are the topics that can be very interesting from a normal person, normal person being not a paid journalist or politician. On my blog I have talked about some of my views on living in Sweden and received the ubiquitous mean comments that come with being online but I always hope that in reading my take and the negative comments it can incite someone else to create their own opinion on the matter.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your paper Jenna. It solidified my respect for you. I am not a Mormon, nor am I religious at all. I appreciate intellect, critical thinking and personal growth. I find all that in your blog, year after year. That is also the reason why I never stick around too many other Mormon blogger sites… I hope to find someone as compelling and challenging (in a positive way) as you but I almost never do. I go to tastespotting for cooking, pinterest for decoration, my favorite paper for political thought, but I always come back to your blog for thought provoking ideas ranging from pregnancy to home economics, to travel, to child birth and rearing, to healthy diet, to personal evolution, to reading! Thank you again for being accessible and sharing your path. I very much appreciate everything you here with me, as I truly feel like you speak directly to me.

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  11. I don’t read many blogs on your list just Daybook and Love Taza|Rockstar Diaties and say yes to Hobken occasionally. Both Naomi and Sydney were very personal on their blogs in the beginning and have toned it down a bit since they got big. Sydney still shares a lot about personal things.

    A few points

    - I think photography and a natural talent for it plays a huge role in gaining popularity

    - I think the controversy wasn’t just the bikini top but the fact Sydney was pushing her boobs together to create cleavage

    - as a non Mormon I was surprised that frugality was a big part of the church. Most these blogs seem very materialistic.

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  12. What an interesting read!
    Due to Instagram & my sewing I stumbled upon several of these bloggers.
    Not being a Mormon I found your paper very educational & it explained a lot on these blogs.

    I had noticed the no alcohol aspect of Rockstar Diaries.
    I think that has a lot to do with her popularity … no booze posting.
    These women come across better that those that post wine pics – in my opinion.

    Kudos for the paper!

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  13. I found your criticisms of the Mormon bloggers very hypocritical. Your observations don’t seem particularly enlightening and are very “lightweight” themselves.
    Whenever you stereotype people, you show your true bigoted colors. Yes, there are Mormons who like decorating and fashion and some who make decisions in such that you may not agree with. Does that make them wrong/bad/dumb? Why not support other woman, regardless of their religious leanings, and if it makes them happy, brings joy and inspiration to others ( and it must, they’re very popular!) and helps them to be able to express themselves and hopefully make a little bit of money, more power to them!
    I’ll see myself off your dim blog while you crawl back up on your judgey soapbox.

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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