April 28, 2023


On QAnon and the Toxic Longing to Be Part of Something As a Mom: Sara Peterson Dives Into the Dark Side of Momfluencer Culture (Sara Petersen. April 28, 2023, LitHub)

There's another reason white momfluencers might be more likely to spread Q conspiracies or preach about "toxin-riddled" vaccines than to align themselves with a conventional social justice or political group, and that has to do with motherhood. The implied moral goodness of (white) motherhood allows them to easily latch onto Q's fear mongering specifically related to harm toward children.

After interviewing attendees of a "Freedom for the Children" QAnon-centric rally in London for a New York Times article about motherhood and QAnon, Annie Kelly determined that maternal protectiveness was at the root of many white mothers' participation. "Very few brought up QAnon's connections with President Trump, Hillary Clinton or the anonymous 4chan account known as 'Q' that started it all," she writes. "They were here, they said, for the children."

Kelly explains that the nature of our social media landscape is critical to understanding not only the appeal of QAnon but also the ease with which it spreads among mothers who have been traditionally restrained from access to male-only conspiracy groups. As Kelly notes, "QAnon, by contrast, has looked for converts anywhere it can find them, making the slogan 'where we go one we go all' (usually abbreviated to the hashtag #WWG1WGA) its rallying cry."

And if QAnon is looking for moms, what better place to find them than on Instagram, where, according to Instagram's own data, 93% of American mothers consume and share content if not daily, then weekly.

Because the vast majority of the most well known, financially successful momfluencers are still predominantly white, it also makes sense that QAnon would seek out white momfluencers to spread misinformation and fear-mongering infographics. While QAnon has long been associated with anti-Semitism, Mia Bloom, while researching her book Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon, found that racism is also integral to the group's messaging.

Out of 240 QAnon images paired with #savethechildren messages on social media, Bloom and her research team discovered that despite the fact that "the vast majority of children who are trafficked originate from the global south ... the images of the children in the QAnon campaigns were almost uniformly white, usually female, and often badly bruised, bound, or bleeding."

The reasoning, according to Bloom, is that images of white children would appeal to white moms in a way that images of children of color would not.

Bloom also found that while the child in these images was white the vast majority of the time, the adult hand was Black or brown 90 percent of the time, leaning into age-old racist stereotypes vilifying Black and brown men as inherently violent and predatory.

It's easy to label moms trafficking in conspiracy theories as silly or crazy, but doing so not only negates their very real influence and power, it also prevents us from understanding what drives white moms to Q and the alt-right in the first place.

Posted by at April 28, 2023 7:39 AM