The XX Factor

Yes, Women Can Write Funny Books About Parenting

Over at Babble, Amy Sohn has a post today asking ” Could A Mom Have Written Go the F— To Sleep? ,” the immensely popular not-for-kids-but-for-parents book. She notes that while there are many “edgy mothers” out there who are writing about parenting (Heather Armstrong of Dooce, most notably), that books written by women in the same theme as Go the F**k to Sleep haven’t sold nearly as well.  She writes, fretting:

A mom who even thinks the word “fuck” around her kid? A mom who can’t get her child to sleep or is unwilling to co-sleep to do it? A mom who isn’t more lovable than caustic, always and forever? I can’t help but think the Internet masses on parenting sites like this would have a field day with it, raking me over the coals for the same sentiment that is so funny when expressed by a dad.

We’re talking about a pretty small sample size here, so it’s hard to speculate why a funny book by a man might fare better than similar books by a woman. It could be that many the books that Sohn cites-including Three-Martini Playdate and Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay look like books for adults, whereas Go the F**k to Sleep looks disarmingly like a children’s book.  Maybe it’s that Samuel Jackson, that known connoisseur of the f-word, has done a reading that is all over YouTube .  And Sohn acknowledges as much when she writes, “Yes, yes, maybe it’s just because he thought of the line ‘Go the fuck to sleep’ first. Maybe it’s because, as Mansbach would put it, that shit is just funny.”

But as she laments the notion that women can’t get away with such edginess, she hits on a point that is worth expanding on: “This flak comes from the very same moms buying GTFTS by the truckload.” Yes, exactly.  If women can’t get away with writing a profanity-laced ode to/tirade about parenting, it’s because they’ll be judged by other women .

I’m not trying to stereotype, but I really can’t see that many men, in reviewing a book similar to GTFTS and complaining that it’s the product of an irresponsible mother.  The sniping and judging is going to come from other mothers. When I cruise around to dad blogs, I see funny observations on life , product reviews, jokes about marriage. I see the same things at mom blogs, too, but, there are a ton of women’s magazines and women-themed-websites that thrive on judgmental content about parenthood.

It’s very simple. If the reason that women haven’t found success like Adam Mansbach is because there’s too much of a stigma attached to women taking a sarcastic attitude toward parenting, then it’s their fellow women who need to lighten up a bit.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I have to get back to my manuscript for Eat Your F*^%ing Vegetables .