Meet the Bitcoin Mommy Bloggers

The world of the virtual currency is overwhelmingly dominated by men. These women want to change that.

Data bites: Bitcoin cookies.
National Journal
Catherine Hollander
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Catherine Hollander
March 18, 2014, 1 a.m.

Pua Py­land’s web­site looks like many oth­er wo­men’s life­style blogs. Py­land, 33, writes about fash­ion, posts pho­tos of de­li­cious-look­ing food, and shares par­ent­ing tips. But her blog is also very dif­fer­ent from its In­ter­net peers in one re­spect: It’s en­tirely bit­coin-themed.

“It’s time to chick­ity check yo’self. Spend­ing Bit­coin is so easy,” Py­land wrote in a post after launch­ing her site, The Bit­coin Wife, last spring. “You can buy some dope things with it, and I’m not talk­ing about [il­leg­al-drug site] Silk Road. I’ve got lots of good­ies in store for you from food to fash­ion to travel. These are ex­cit­ing times, and the boys shouldn’t get to have all the fun.”

Bit­coin — a vir­tu­al cur­rency that was in­tro­duced in 2009 and has en­joyed no short­age of press lately thanks to the col­lapse of one of its ex­changes and New­s­week‘s out­ing of its al­leged founder — is, by all ac­counts, a man’s world. There are no of­fi­cial stat­ist­ics, but last year, Uni­versity Col­lege Lon­don post­gradu­ate re­search­er Lui Smyth sur­veyed 1,000 bit­coin users and found that 95.2 per­cent were male.

Enter Py­land and a hand­ful of oth­er fe­male bit­coin en­thu­si­asts, who are try­ing to upend this dy­nam­ic. Their num­bers are tough to quanti­fy; Py­land and an­oth­er blog­ger I in­ter­viewed struggled to think of sim­il­ar fe­male-cent­ric bit­coin-life­style blogs. But there is a grow­ing com­munity of pro-bit­coin wo­men on Twit­ter. And a Google+ com­munity for wo­men in bit­coin cre­ated last Tues­day night had 23 mem­bers by early Wed­nes­day morn­ing, sug­gest­ing ready in­terest.

Py­land’s brand of evan­gel­ism is tech-meets-Martha Stew­art. A re­cent post on her site, for ex­ample, showed how to make Valentine’s Day boxes for bit­coin pa­per-wal­let gifts. (Pa­per wal­lets are used by people who hold the cur­rency to store their bit­coin re­cords off­line.) Py­land’s boxes are em­blazoned with the bit­coin sym­bol — a “B” with two lines through it, akin to a dol­lar sign — and she sug­ges­ted throw­ing in a few chocol­ates, too. “You might not be able to buy love with Bit­coin,” she wrote, “but you can cer­tainly make it a little sweeter!”

She and her hus­band, who live in Utah, have been bit­coin fans since 2011. They left their jobs in IT in April 2012 to live off bit­coin in­vest­ments and to “mine” bit­coin full time — a pro­cess that is some­what ana­log­ous to min­ing pre­cious metals, ex­cept it in­volves us­ing high-speed com­puters to solve com­plex math equa­tions. Py­land star­ted The Bit­coin Wife a year later. She says the web­site gets between 500 and 1,000 unique vis­it­ors every day. One of her most pop­u­lar posts so far was on us­ing bit­coin to re­ward her kids — who range in age from 20 months to 14 years old — for do­ing their chores.

Py­land is prob­ably the best-known bit­coin life­style blog­ger, but she does have a few peers, in­clud­ing Cath­er­ine Bleish, a 29-year-old “stay-at-farm” mom in Texas who iden­ti­fies as a “vol­un­tary­ist,” which is sim­il­ar to a liber­tari­an. She has two young kids and star­ted TheBit in late 2013. “As a moth­er who’s really pas­sion­ate about al­tern­at­ive cur­ren­cies and, you know, not lik­ing the Fed­er­al Re­serve bank­ing sys­tem, yadda yadda yadda, I’m really pas­sion­ate about this, and I had a hard time set­ting up my first [bit­coin] wal­let be­cause I’m so dis­trac­ted; I have chil­dren,” she told me. She says she hopes her web­site can be­come a sup­port sys­tem for wo­men in sim­il­ar situ­ations.

TheBit­‘s logo is a re­li­gious Madonna-like fig­ure hold­ing a child — and a bit­coin. Bleish is cur­rently post­ing a “Wo­men in Bit­coin” pod­cast series, and selling T-shirts fea­tur­ing a styl­ized ver­sion of Rosie the Riv­eter. “We Can Do Bit!” they pro­claim.

Both Py­land and Bleish have got­ten push­back for play­ing up the wife and moth­er angle. Py­land says she has re­ceived “sev­er­al emails” from oth­er wo­men. “They felt that my monik­er of be­ing called ‘the bit­coin wife’ and fo­cus­ing on maybe more gender-ste­reo­typ­ic­al as­pects of bit­coin, like shop­ping and moth­erly things “¦ was de­mean­ing to the wo­men’s plight and that it wasn’t sin­cere. And that it was an­ti­fem­in­ist,” Py­land says.

Her latest ven­ture is the “Bit­coin Weight Loss Chal­lenge,” a 12-week com­pet­i­tion that is ba­sic­ally a Biggest Loser for the bit­coin set. Eliza­beth Goss, a 33-year-old stay-at-home mom in Min­nesota, is one of the par­ti­cipants.

Goss star­ted her own bit­coin web­site, Bit Baste, be­cause her hus­band had been act­ive in the com­munity since 2010 and she didn’t want to feel “left out,” she told me. She de­cided to sell re­cipes in ex­change for bit­coin. They’re lis­ted for $0.99 — which, ac­cord­ing to a con­vert­er on Coin­Desk, is roughly 0.0016 bit­coin at the mo­ment. (The cur­rency fluc­tu­ates a lot.) “My hus­band thought, well, nobody would buy them un­less they look really sexy,” she says, and thus chocol­ate “cli­max cake” was born. Goss says she has sold about 10 re­cipes so far.

A few oth­er fe­male-cent­ric bit­coin sites don’t make for com­fort­able at-work brows­ing, such as Bit­coin Beau­ties, which isn’t fully up and run­ning yet and fea­tures pho­tos of top­less wo­men with the tagline, “Beauty, Brains & Bit­coin.” There was also a “Girls Gone Bit­coin” thread on Red­dit, which shared many traits with the spring-break pro­gram that in­spired its name.

Py­land is heartened by what she sees as an ex­plo­sion of in­terest from wo­men in re­cent months. “You have wo­men that are deeply in­volved with vari­ous pro­jects and busi­nesses that are bit­coin-cent­ric, and it’s amaz­ing — I mean, that just wasn’t the case last year,” she says. “Mostly you heard from men who were selling their wife’s jew­elry, or selling their wife’s jam, or talk­ing about how they’re go­ing to help their wives set up bit­coin pay­ments for their cup­cake busi­ness, and stuff like that. But now, you ac­tu­ally hear from the wo­men. And that is a huge, huge deal to me.”

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