I swore I wouldn't write about this and send traffic to her blog, because that's the last thing I want to do. But I can't stop thinking about it and feel stupid for being so affected by something written by a person I don't even know--or at least barely know (I did meet her once). I'm sure people will accuse me of linkbaiting, but honestly I don't care--the last thing I feel like is getting into a debate about whether or not it's ok to post pictures of practically your genitals (and I'm not kidding, so be forewarned before clicking that link) on what's supposed to be a business blog. Or whether it's ok announce to the world that you're in a violent marriage--you and your two kids--but are ok with that and are sticking with it.
In my book, it's not ok. To share it with the world and profit off it, that is--"it" being domestic abuse that involves children. You want to stay in a relationship with a guy who leaves bruises on you? That's your choice. But sharing graphic photos on your blog and explaining how it's partially your fault and maybe your kids are actually better off if you stay in the marriage? And promoting that rationale as career advice? No thanks. It's not like she's the first women to rationalize abuse--but most women who do it probably are not making money off sharing that opinion. But Penelope is--she runs ads on her blog and offers an online course "Secrets of an A-List Blogger" for $196. Several of her posts are sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS), which is very weird because those posts had nothing, really, to do with cancer. I'm wondering if ACS has pulled their advertising from her blog, though, because the blog used to feature banner ads for them and they don't appear to be there now. In fact, originally that's what this post was going to be about--is it a bad PR move for associations to run ads on blogs which feature controversial content--but when I went to check out the ACS banner ad on her blog I saw, instead, the A-List blogger ad, which prompted the title of this post.
I get that the blogosphere has gotten increasingly crowded and to get traffic you need stand out from the millions of other bloggers. I get that Penelope's old standby--being controversial and oversharing stuff like her miscarriage at work, her sex life, the abuse she endured as a kid and a teen--has been replicated many times over by other bloggers. I get that she's gone from career woman making tons of money to mom homeschooling her kids and is conflicted about it. I get how her identity is tied up in being a farmer's wife--not to mention her income, as her blog now pretty much centers around photos taken on the farm. I even get how her self-worth has become tied to the amount of attention she gets from readers--she readily admits that her closest relationships are with her kids and with her blog readers. But what I don't get is how the company she founded and is still part of in some way--Brazen Careerist--still wants to have anything to do with her or wants pictures of her bruised ass in any way associated with their professional brand.
Mostly, though, I'm sad. I used to revere Penelope. I can't even count the number of times I've blogged about her because the search feature on my old blog doesn't work anymore. I loved that she wasn't conventional, and that her brazen-ness was what was responsible for her success. I didn't mind reading her overshares about getting Brazilian waxes or posing for nude for her dad. It made her human and, somehow, likeable. Maybe it made her strong in my eyes, for surviving so much abuse and craziness, and succeeding in spite of it. But this new tangent--her as farm wife homeschooling her kids and making excuses for staying in a physically abusive marriage? There's nothing inspiring about that. Women like that are a dime a dozen--women who marginalize themselves and allow their husbands to degrade and demean them, and who tell themselves that it's better for the kids to have two parents and to live in a beautiful house and have a mom who is home instead of toiling away in an office. I used to be one of those women--not the abuse part--except for one time--but the dependent part. It sucked.
I'll digress, because I don't even really know what it is I'm trying to say--other than that if being a successful blogger means becoming so dependent on the attention and pageviews that you'll do anything to get either or both, I'm happy to be a crappy blogger.