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Do dad bloggers need a hero? Backpacking Dad says no

Who is the biggest mom blogger in the world?

It may have taken you all of three seconds to think “Dooce” to yourself. Or maybe you thought “The Pioneer Woman“. Or maybe you thought of someone else, someone you’ve seen on TV a lot, or who has a book deal, or who makes headlines. (You probably thought “Dooce”, though. Come on.) Whether the person you thought of (Dooce) is, measurably, the biggest mom blogger in the world might be controversial. Maybe the fact is she doesn’t make the most money directly from her website or show up on TV the most or have the most readers. It doesn’t really matter. She is perceived to be the biggest mom blogger in the world, and there’s something about perception that allows it to bend light around corners.

Now: who is the biggest dad blogger in the world?

Take your time. I’ll wait. After all, there must be someone with the most pageviews, the most feed subscribers, the highest income, the greatest influence over other writers, the greatest influence over readers, the most Twitter followers, the most Facebook fans, the biggest connection with the world beyond his website. It might not be the same someone in every case, but there is always going to be an answer.

The truth: I have no idea who the biggest dad blogger in the world is. I don’t even have a good grasp of who the contenders are. There is no perception. If there is a biggest dad blogger, he is still just a curiosity in the parent-blogging world, and not even that to rest of the world.

Most dad bloggers would admit this reality rankles. “Hey!” we say, “We’re writing about our kids, too! We buy products, and have opinions about life and manhood and parenting.” And yet our inherent worth seems to us to go unrecognized. How can we get our perceived worth to reflect our inherent worth? Is the solution to the problem to find a giant among men, a dad-blogging colossus who can blaze the trail for men to blog about their families and kids and to do so in a respected and possibly profitable way? Do dad bloggers need their own Dooce?

I don’t think so. While having pillars like Dooce and The Pioneer Woman could only have been helpful in growing the mainstream influence and respectability of mom blogging, their male counterparts wouldn’t help solve the dad blogging “problem.” Also, I don’t think it’s possible for any one dad to have the impact that Dooce had, and that’s less about talent than it is timing. With a blog that started between the inventions of Blogger (1999) and Moveable Type (2001), Dooce was blogging while blogging itself was in its infancy, and therefore easier to impact. Also, it bears mentioning that before she was a mom, Dooce was infamous for getting fired from her job for blogging. In other words, she helped shape the field before she owned it.

Moreover, having a single thought leader or influencer will not, on its own, help dad bloggers become more than curiosities. Women will still be thought to have more valuable opinions about parenting. But this goes hand-in-hand with public inequalities, where men still dominate economic and political spheres, and where the division of labor at home is often still staggeringly unequal. Convincing the world, which expects men to have subordinate parenting roles, to respect the opinions of a group of dad bloggers won’t happen just because one of those bloggers becomes the face, voice, and focus for the group. It will take wave after wave of thinkers and writers to erode those barriers.

And here’s where we are today: For better or worse, Dad bloggers can just start with the writing. We can participate in, and shape the culture that is to come, but we don’t have to start from scratch, and that is a great thing. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to learning how to be better writers, how to be better members of a community, how to talk to brands or attract readers. We don’t have to convince the world that blogging is a real thing that real people do and that it isn’t just a world inhabited by people with very strong opinions about classic science fiction shows. Dad bloggers don’t need an Atlas to bear the world on his shoulders, because the burden is lighter now. We can focus on writing for respect instead of fighting for it. And that is no small thing.

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