Capitalizing on the Mamiverse : Preliminary Thoughts

I came across the article from the Daily Beast as it made it’s way across my twitter stream. The article, titled, Meet the Fútbol Moms, focuses on the launch of a new website targeting mamis, that is Latina moms. The website, Mamiverse, which I have yet to explore in depth, promises to give Latina mamis, a huge demographic, “the Oprah treatment”.

Who said we wanted that?

According to the article, what the Mamiverse wants to do is to prove that all Latina mothers are not undocumented anchor baby makers. Well those words weren’t used. These were:

In a period when American-born Latinas have been caught in the national freakout about “border security,” Mamiverse offers them a new spokeswoman. She’s a particular kind of Latina mom—an English-speaking, all-American gal. “The young, acculturated, affluent, online Latina is speaking English, and is imbibing media in English,” says Rene Alegria, the site’s 36-year-old founder and CEO.

In other word a Latina who is happy to pass? All- American meaning anything but Latin American. The website wants us all to be Gabriela Solis apparently. Oh and Rene Alegria – not a mami.

From the article:

He was born in Tucson, Ariz., in 1975. His family is a case study in the acculturation process he now trumpets. Alegria’s grandparents immigrated from Sonora, Mexico, in 1955 and still don’t speak English. By the time he was 19, Alegria was living in New York and working at the publisher Simon & Schuster…At 25, as a young editor at HarperCollins, Alegria founded Rayo, the first major Hispanic imprint in New York publishing. He insisted that most of Rayo’s books, from authors like Ray Suarez and Jorge Ramos, should be in English…The imprint began producing mostly Spanish-language books. “It ended up being the Telemundo of book publishing,” Alegria moans. He left in 2009.

According to the article, Alegria was “horrified” at the calls for a boycott when Arizona’s SB1070 passed. The Mamiverse – again not started by a mami – is based in Arizona.

The Mamiverse has started with a star lineup of mamis including Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Maria Hinojosa, Daisy Fuentes. It has also started with one exclusive retailer ready to sell to the new demographic- Target.

The end of the article tries to make the Mamiverse political – saying that it is the mamis who will determine the 2012 election.

Alegria thinks Mom will be the one brokering the conversation. “The next César Chávez,” he says grandly, “is going to be a Latina mom.”

Because apparently Latina moms have never done anything politically before this moment.
Based solely on the article (again I have not really analyzed the actual site) it seems the success of the Mamiverse is based on the notion of erasing the idea of otherness which means that any mami who does not fit into this upwardly mobile, English speaking, non-pork eating mold gets further pushed into the shadows.

Pass me the pernil because I am not sitting at that table.

Have you checked out the Mamiverse? Does it represent your mami’hood?

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30 comments on “Capitalizing on the Mamiverse : Preliminary Thoughts
  1. And unlike other web women magazines (such as IVillage and Oprah) who have at least attempted to be Lesbian friendly…one of the first articles (“Still Married After Short Hair”) from the mamiverse, shows me that it is not at all. Because you know Lesbianas don’t have kids, apparently.

  2. Ooops the above comment was for BFP and yeah, I haven’t even looked at the website because I didn’t want to boil over with rage pero I did peep that Shanal. It seems to play into the worse stereotypes of what Latinidad should be

  3. Ugh, I checked the website. Def just pitching things, which I suppose is all fine and fair. Don’t like the pseudo-ethnic-gender-empowerment flavor. They are just selling stuff, nothing empowering about buying junk online. Really, everyone does it.

    The real kicker for me was seeing the “Go the F to Sleep” book (bottom of home page on the Target ad) ad on the homepage. Do they know any Latina moms? We don’t have all the anxiety about motherhood — really, we dig family.

    Mommy wars and hate-my-kid themes are not our issues/battles, nor something we would be rewarded for saying in the way that non-Latinos have on blogs and books.

  4. Re: “In other word a Latina who is happy to pass?”

    Are you for real? You need to get out of your barrio and meet different kinds of people. Not every Latina/Hispanic is is poor, or oppressed, or Spanish speaking, or a single mother, or illegal, or a drop out, or foreign, or whatever stereotypes you think make a Latino person “authentic.” As I said yesterday, you really resent Americans of Latino descent. But that doesn’t stop you from living here….

    And why do you think Gabrielle Solis is such a successful character? Because millions of people relate! That character’s speech and mannerisms are the closest to a normal depiction of a Mexican-American person I have ever seen on TV.

    I haven’t seen the website, but I doubt it will be successful if she is using the word “mami.” LOL

  5. also at first gland, all the “Latinas” on the images are very light skinned, slim, able-bodied and perpetuate stereotypes of a one-dimensional “look” of a “Latina” vs. recognizing the differences and different ability and generations of who we all don’t look the same for various reasons! i dont have the tetas to check out the rest of the sight. for reals. bless those of you who have.

  6. Bianca, I don’t think anything aimed at Latinos will ever be successful because the category is fake and there are too many different types of people lumped together who do not share a history.

    Something aimed at just Mexican-Amerians, or just Cubans, or just immigrants, etc. would be more successful.

  7. So the negativity pervades. So we have an opportunity to rise, learn, expand, and all the chicas are angry, boiling-over-with-rage, so mad, etc. Lovely. We ARE a huge demographic. Apparantly, only the angry, negative voices are expressing themselves. I am thrilled to see something new. I am not offended at the website, only offended by all the angry mamis. Let’s get something constructive, positive and revel in the joy that we are.

  8. when I looked at it yesterday I didn’t realize it was created by a guy. I don’t get all these sites targetting moms or women that are not the brainchild of women. I visit alot of the scifi and geek mom centered sites and for the most part they are have at the helm men. It’s plain that the site is not for all latinas, She’s a particular kind of Latina mom—an English-speaking, all-American gal” Its geared towards a particular audience which excludes those mamis who are already spokespersons in their own rights. It does not look like a site I will ever be visiting often.

  9. lily felix, why is critique often equated with “angry, boiling-over with rage, mad” words?
    We are not homogenous, and I appreciate honest critiques from a socially conscious perspective, what I always find here.

  10. I don’t view sales pitches as “opportunities to rise, learn or expand”. Are kids empowered by Fruit Loops commercials and Disney movie websites that target them?

    That is the rub with so much that is “Latin@ targeted” — usually it means ads with a few Spanish words or quasi-cultural references generated to sell me something (soap, political candidates or insurance).

    I am not opposed to advertising or capitalism. I like money, for sure, but I don’t confuse being targeted by ads with any meaningful power.

    Also, agree that using “mami” all over the website is a total turnoff. I never used that word and my son never called me that. Did he learn that from a movie or something? heh.heh.

  11. @Karen: I didn’t see anything in this post that spoke of a “Latino authenticity”. On the contrary, it spoke of how the Latino label (which is used to identify all of us, whether we like it or not) is being used in a website that does not represent all of us. On the contrary, it targets a specific middle-class, english speaking, exclusively heterosexual Latina class. Ie. Someone who comes closer to the privilege standard in the United States. That is not all Latinas, or all Latina mothers. So a plethora of people who are identified as Latinas are marginalized by the content of this website.

    And for someone who is accusing another person of using stereotypes, you sure do not have a problem offending someone by calling them a Barrio Rata, only because she happens to be a Latina who is offering a critique.

    I don’t have a problem with any ad targeting of any sort, as long as stereotypes are not being used and diversity is widely acknowledged, which this website does not. Not by something as simple as acknowledging all the countries of Latin-America plus United States born Latinos, but by marginalizing a lot of categories within our Label.

  12. So interesting how a critique of something because it further marginalizes people is taken as wanting to keep your own people down. Maybe that’s why when people meet me they are surprised how well I speak English, or how I can put myself together. Mas stereotypes.

    What I am critiquing is what I see as a blatant move – not just through one site but in general – to make Latina motherhood about what we buy and about erasing difference to that we turn into a different imagined monolith that is more acceptable – less scary.

    I could throw my credentials/cred all over the place to prove perceptions wrong but I shouldn’t have to and I won’t.

    Stereotypes indeed just because I want more than a website to sell me things. That’s what I go to a store for.

  13. Hmm but I expected this reaction instead of an honest discussion about how sites like this actually further marginalize Latina mothers. Sylvia I think you really hit it on the head. How does marketing to “us” in this way actually empower us? How does it change the way power dynamics work in this country? Anyone?

  14. Re: “On the contrary, it targets a specific middle-class, english speaking, exclusively heterosexual Latina class. Ie. Someone who comes closer to the privilege standard in the United States. That is not all Latinas, or all Latina mothers. So a plethora of people who are identified as Latinas are marginalized by the content of this website. ”

    So what? Since when does anything aimed at Latinos actually appeal to everybody that falls under the label? Never. If this website doesn’t include or appeal to some people, then don’t visit it. Instead we get the victim mentality and people calling themselves “marginalized.” Yes, marginalized by a website. lol

    This is only an issue because they are trying to appeal to middle class, assimilated people and that’s a no no around here. If that Latino website was aimed at blacks from the DR, or poor farmworkers to the exclusion of everybody else, nobody here would care.

  15. Ah ha – and here is the point. Moving right over racist assumptions about Afro-Dominicans presented in the above comment – the point it if you are going to talk about and claim to be representing Latin@ motherhood then it shouldn’t exclude ANYONE.
    Let’s have a real conversation about what Latina motherhood looks like in all its forms – not just the forms that will garner advertiser interest.

    That is the point.

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  17. Re: “the point it if you are going to talk about and claim to be representing Latin@ motherhood then it shouldn’t exclude ANYONE.”

    The site is aimed at a certain type of Latina mother, and they have the right to target any demographic they want.

  18. Re: “you sure do not have a problem offending someone by calling them a Barrio Rata, only because she happens to be a Latina who is offering a critique. ”

    Not because she offered a critique, but because she said that anybody of Latino descent who is culturally American, and yes, I have to specify US, is “passing.” That ignorant comment tells me that she hasn’t been around many different types of Latinos or people in general.

    Add to that her comment in another thread about wanting to “cut those bootstraps” in reference to the notion that you can work your way out of the ghetto and leave it behind.

  19. From a marketing POV, it is interesting to me that the guy who runs the site goes out of his way to say the Latinas audience, as he conceives it, are just like any other middle class, English dominant, educated set of women. That does beg the question, why target Latina mothers at all as a specific market segment, on a Latina-specific website if there is *nothing distinctive* about them? If I want to read non-ethnic targeted media, I can go to any number of parenting and lifestyle sites that I know I share with white middle class English dominant women. What a jackass.

  20. Hello ladies,

    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sylvia Martinez, and I am the VP & Digital Content Director of Mamiverse. Founder and CEO Rene Alegria, who is based in New York, handles the business side of Mamiverse, while I handle the editorial content.

    I just wanted to chime in after reading your post and comments to say thank you for confirming that the issues (diversity, empowerment, etc.) that are important to us at Mamiverse are equally important to you.

    I couldn’t help but smile at some of your comments, as everything mentioned is either already on our site or certainly in the works. We have some gifted writers who tackle a variety of subjects in the areas of education, finance, health and style. We also have recipes, including one for Arroz Con Gandules with pork. :-) And we will be adding additional sections in the future.

    Mamiverse has a little something for everyone, as it is geared toward Latina moms, daughters, family and friends. I hope you will give Mamiverse a chance, as we are a newborn, literally less than 36 hours, and admittedly are a work in progress.

    Lastly, I wanted to invite you to write me at sylvia (dot) martinez (at) mamiverse (dot) com with any story ideas, pitches, questions, comments or concerns. I am also happy to meet with you in person, as I am but a short train ride away from Manhattan. Gracias.

  21. Oh Karen, again you want me to throw down my creds so that I can prove how not ghetto I am or what kind of people I have or haven’t been exposed to. Not playing that game and I stand by my comments.

    Sylvia (not from the site) right- if Latina moms are so “normal” then why do we need a separate site? Just like when politicians pander to “our interests” by wearing a guayabera and marching in a parade – it is superficial at best – deceptive at worst.

    Finally, Sylvia Martinez – I appreciate you coming into the lion’s den to to speak and offering your point of view. I haven’t spent a great deal of time on the site (as mami’ing and work haven’t allowed me to take that time yet) but I actually look forward to it especially as it develops into whatever it is meant to be.

  22. Re: “Oh Karen, again you want me to throw down my creds so that I can prove how not ghetto I am”

    I never called you ghetto. I just said that based on your comments, it’s obvious that you have not been exposed to a wide variety of people.

  23. Sylvia, I like articles about health and nutrition, but that recipe isn’t one that appeals to a lot of people, and those it does appeal to already know how to make it.

    Branch out. We eat all kinds of food.

  24. Only natural for a lioness to protect her newborn cub. ;-) Thanks for giving Mamiverse a chance, Maegan. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts either way.

    Karen, we have a variety of recipes, including some healthy ones and lots more to come. Please check back.

    Thank you, ladies, have a great day!

  25. Hmm, I believe Mamiverse is simply another option for Latina moms. I am a mami and I guide a Spanish site for Spanish-speaking Latina moms, and as a bilingual and bicultural person, I enjoy going to different sites for information on anything from parenting to self-improvement. If they were all the same, targeted at the same people, what would they have to offer that is different?
    So, welcome to the Internet, Mamiverse.

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