Don’t call me Mom!!!

Tonight I want to sound off a bit about something I’ve noticed that always irks me each time I see it.

Why are the admins of just about any knitting/craft list/swap/craft-along/online group called “moms”?

Sure, as far as I’ve seen, they’re all women. Because yes, the participants in these groups are predominantly women. But I’m guessing that the admins of more male-oriented groups, like perhaps a fishing group, aren’t called “dads”.

I think this bites at me on several levels.

Part of it is an inter-group equality issue. In the groups I’ve seen, the admins see to the smooth running of the group. They handle the administrative and organizational tasks. They deal with any technical or social issues that might arise. But for the most part, they are just another member of the group. And the term “mom” implies a dependent, subservient relationship that I don’t believe exists or should exist in the group. These people aren’t my mother. They didn’t change my diapers. I don’t look to them for advice. I don’t blame them for my neuroses (yet). I’m not gonna look after them when they age.

Part of it is a feminist-reactionary response. The term “mom” is loaded. Sure, the group admins probably adopt it because they feel like they are responsible for the care and feeding of the group. And many of them may be moms in real life and feel a great deal of pride in that. But society also perceives the role of mom as undervalued. And yes, I feel feminist-reactionary conflict for even thinking that.

Maybe the idea is to make the group seem more cozy. Okay, why not use a term like “big sister”? Which I still don’t like in this context, but I find less bothersome. Or is it the housekeeping aspect of the task? What about “list maid”? Yeah, no one likes that one, with good reason.

If the idea is the notion of leadership, there are a lot of other female leader terms that have more powerful connotations, if we have to have a gender-specific term at all. I’ve seen “webmistress” used in contrast to “webmaster”. “Queen” would be good. Or how about “maven”?

I often see complaints that outsiders don’t take our craft(s) seriously. Instead of being respected as artisans, we’re belittled and maligned. Well, with things like “listmom”, I’m not sure that we do a lot to seem worthy of the respect.

Maybe what it really comes down to is how would I feel about it in a professional sphere? I’m a computer scientist at a leading research institution. While the number of female colleagues I have is on the rise, I still work with a lot of men. I oversee a number of people implementing a large project. And I certainly never want to be called the “project mom”.


  1. Dave:

    Actually, the guys are called “dad” or “uncle.”

  2. amy!:

    Interesting. Thanks for letting me know. Do you know if it’s more of the “non-technical” traditionally male hobbies? I don’t see it extend to other non-craft groups I’ve belonged to in the past, like, well, Star Trek fan groups, music groups, and Alumni groups.

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  4. limedragon :-: Harriet:

    Heh, you make perfect sense. : ) I think amy! above has a point, it may be the non-techy aspect that leads to that usage. I used to belong to sigtag and font groups, which are generally more techy and always used “admin” “co-owner” “mod” as applicable. Even now w/ my knitlists, I don’t really think of the folks who lead/coordinate etc in “listmom” terms.

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