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Why all those MLM "Moms" are my problem.

So, I just read the Powder Room post hating on the MLM salespeople in everyone's Facebook feed. And at first, as was totally with it. Like, I hate that too! and I also do not enjoy feeling guilty about not making my friends money! I'm not a sales tool!

But then I realized: fuck. This is at least kind of my fault.

Is it my fault people are annoying and try to sell things (relentlessly) sometimes? No. No victim blaming here! People are not and should not be tools to puff up a "friend's" bottom line. But is it my fault I feel guilty about not buying something I don't even want, and then that guilt makes me annoyed and angry? Insofar as responsibility for something I can control equates with"fault," YES. And is this a feminism thing? Maybe.


While I think people shouldn't be annoying — wouldn't that be nice? — and none of us are obligated to help anyone out with their business, MLM or not, I also think that the vitriol is totally unnecessary. And that every woman selling Stella and Dot or whatever isn't scheming to scheme me like some scheming, scheme-selling jerkface.

For background: I do not like approaching my friends with business stuff. I happen to be a freelancer/consultant/sole proprietor, and I have literally never approached a friend for work, save *once* offering someone something for free as a gift. However, I grew up in a household directly and 100% funded by an MLM enterprise, so I do have some feels. (These same feels keep me from approaching my friends with work though, so there you go.)


I do think this is a feminist thing, and here's why. A few of the commenters have pointed out that asking people to share the word about their Avon, etc., is no different from asking friends to check out a brick and mortar business. I think this isn't exactly true, but it's true enough. They're just asking, you can always say no. And that's why this is a feminist thing, because — and oh, how I hate this word in this context — we're trained from a young age not to say no. Women are all too often brought up to be 'people pleasers,' sometimes at great personal cost. Too many of us were never encouraged, and sometimes still aren't, to speak our minds and be up front about our opinions.

So when a friend asks, or just makes Facebook post repeatedly, we feel guilty about saying no ... even if we're not even saying it out loud or directly. We feel "put upon," because there's an unspoken rule that women make everyone happy and putting us in a position where we're not responding positively is rude.

Quick interjection ... I'm using a broad "we" here, and I want to jump in and say, I know there's no way I can speak for everyone personally. I'm using "we" because I'm a woman and I'm talking about women in generic. I understand there will be exceptions, there always are.

All this isn't to say some people aren't genuinely annoying. Sometimes people are fucking awful. And there are certainly people with rampant entitlement issues. But I think how annoyed I get, as a woman, is at least influenced by my culture. Because I get annoyed if I so much as see a post, not directed at me, to buy some jewelry. And I'm pretty sure I shouldn't.


* "Moms" is in quotes in the title because we all know that assuming all MLM-involved women are mothers (and specifically stay-at-home moms) is a gross inaccuracy.

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