Author and media strategist Joanne Bamberger reveals the powerful impact of social media tools in amplifying female voices in American politics today in her new book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.
Women make up the majority of online users and utilize the Internet very effectively. As a result, women and mothers are rapidly growing in political influence. While traditional media attempts to pigeonhole women with titles such as “Soccer Mom,” the reality of women’s involvement in politics and activism is more complex. With the advent of online activism, blogs and social media, Bamberger’s book examines the rise of the motherhood political movement and how women have become a larger, more powerful presence in political activism through online communication.
Social media and online networking has allowed mothers to identify each other, organize, campaign and become activists more easily than ever. Joanne Bamberger’s Mothers of Intention is the first study of this movement, and it will leave readers with a new understanding of the political landscape. Joanne took time to talk to us about her new book.
Spiral16: Why do you think social media, online media is such a powerful platform for mothers?
Joanne Bamberger: Social media tools are literally made for women — they allow us to network, connect and find communities that we would never have been connected to just a few years ago. There are no barriers to entry in social and online media as there are with traditional mainstream media. Women have been unsuccessful in breaking through in traditional media platforms that are still mostly run by men. The numbers bear out the barriers that still exist — for example, less than 20% of opinion pieces in the New York Times are written by women. And historically, women have had a harder time than men finding capital to start their own businesses.
But with the online world, more and more women every day are writing about their opinions and their lives — and discovering major audiences — and are launching business ventures that just a few years ago wouldn’t have been possible. The tools of online media are allowing women to find their niches to pursue the businesses and ventures that weren’t possible just a few years ago.
Spiral16: What are some of the social media trends you see for the next election?
Joanne Bamberger: Many mainstream politicos like to talk about a perceived lack of women political writers online. But there is an ever-growing trend of women who write what are considered “mom blogs” who are branching out and writing about how politics and policies are impacting their families, and they are connecting with other women online who share their values to advocate for causes and candidates they believe in.
Some of those voices are now being highlighted at my new site, The Broad Side. While there are some who scoff at such a notion, women online are becoming major influencers when it comes to the things they believe in. Women are the majority users of most major online platforms and they aren’t afraid to connect with their communities to advocate for change.
Spiral16: What inspired you to write this book?
Joanne Bamberger: I was inspired to write Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America because as I was writing my blog PunditMom, I was seeing something that most in the mainstream media were not — that women in general, and mothers in particular, were becoming a rising power as a result of the online tools available to them. I saw and gathered essays and interviews to showcase the broad range of women who were becoming influencers in their communities — both online and in real life — to prove to the world that women online are a force to be reckoned with and that ignoring them would not make the stories of women being mere “mommybloggers” true.
It is an uphill battle to convince most people that the combination of women and social media tools will be the next revolution. My hope is that Mothers of Intention will be the first among many examples to prove to doubters that we are taking over the world — but that we will be benevolent dictators!
Spiral16: Why do you think traditional media tries to pigeonhole women?
Joanne Bamberger: For me, that is the mother of all questions (no pun intended!). Sadly, portraying women in the media as one-dimensional makes for quick and easy “news” coverage in our era of 24/7 feed-the-beast stories. There is no time to delve into actually understanding women of the 21st century and the myriad things that make our lives so interesting, and yet so complicated. If the media can put us in simplified categories — soccer moms, security moms, Wal-mart moms — they are then able to churn out stories about us without giving us much thought or attention.
To take a phrase from the movie “Dirty Dancing,” many in the media try to put moms in a corner, but with the astounding rise of women in social media, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to keep women pigeonholed. Thank goodness for that!
In the first book to describe this new political idiom, Bamberger traces and analyzes the ever-growing trend, and incorporates powerful essays by notable female commentators including: Pulitzer Prize winner Connie Schultz, Mom-101’s Liz Gumbinner, Veronica Arreola of Viva la Feminista, Jaelithe Judy of MOMocrats and MomsRising’s Lisa Frack, and other influential women. The book has gotten rave reviews and if you want to find out more, visit Joanne Bamberger’s blog, Pundit Mom.