My Gals at BlogHer DC

Blog Her DC pictures

I kinda feel like I just got a box of new toys. BlogHer DC was that fun.

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to BlogHer DC Reach Out Tour. It was refreshing to hang out with a bunch of sassy bloggers in a place where there was no cell or blackberry signal!

Perhaps it is gender braggadocio (thanks @cheeky_geeky) but I love hanging with the gals, especially the fellow nerdettes. There is a very different energy that permeates the room – and it runs in stark contrast to what I’ve seen at Yearly Kos (Netroots Nation), Personal Democracy Forum or even the artsy rockstar attitude of SXSWi this past spring. There was so much more of an emphasis on sharing and discussion. The inclusion was overwhelming. For instance, on a panel about building online communities, the moderator – who was a fan of DC Goodwill Fashionista – had the blogger come up on stage and sit with the other presenters to tell her story. And then she wouldn’t let DC Goodwill Fashionista leave the stage. There was such an organic sense of information sharing and storytelling.

Events like the one BlogHer put together yesterday will foster more women engaging online. That participation will change the online space – and I’m quite glad there’s room for everyone. I also think groups like BlogHer will be integral to connecting us, and will help us reclaim and discuss what it means to be a Feminist of the new wave (I sometimes refer to it as 3rd wave, although I’m finding that to be unsatisfying). The act of linking together will help us figure out how to change the problems that plagued our mothers, aunts and grandmothers, and then more quickly spread the knowledge. The web, I am convinced, is going to speed up the learning curve of balancing life, family, and career.

Three quick things I want to note, and hope to post more on later. Judging from the comments some made about Twitter at BlogHer, there is some fact-sharing and education that needs to be done. I am a HUGE fan of Twitter, and I think it serves a vital fuction as a new kind of broadcasting tool. As a kid who used to knock around on BBS and IRC in the 90s, Twitter’s functionality isn’t really new to me, so much as it’s reintroducing an old form of online discussion – albeit with a better looking interface and the social networking element.

Second, as Queen of Spain (whom I was thrilled to meet in person, although sad I didn’t get a #suckit sticker) mentioned on her panel, BlogHer is omnipartisan, but the bloggers are not. At some point, I got up to talk about Not My Gal, and a wonderful thing happened. I have never had this happen to me at a conference – a conservative woman blogger quietly handed me her card. She scribbled on the back – “can’t wait to talk to you more. Let’s collaborate!” I have rarely been so graciously approached by a conservative in the hopes of working together. (And I’m hopeful we can do some bipartisan posting here on Not My Gal.)

And third – related to Twitter, I asked a group of the ladies to add me to their Twitter feed. And they did! And because I have been accused of being Emily Post 2.0 (hey, I believe in retail politics!) I had to say hello to all my new followers, and follow them back. This created some serious tweet traffic, and what was really interesting was all the DMs (direct messages) I got back from my male friends on Twitter. It was like they all popped their heads up to say “hey, what’s going on here?” Some of the DMs were snarky, some were concerned I had had too much caffeine late at night… It was, to say the least, interesting. I suppose men get nervous whenever the womenfolk start chatting (or as I think of it, organizing.) But hey, I might be a little alarmed of us, too. Women make a majority of consumer choices and the Interweb is most certainly an entrepreneurial space. My gals are a big sassy wave of estrogen, online enthusiasm and blinged out pink laptops. And with the snap of a coin purse, we’re going to ride this wave to change.

Would love to hear your reactions to BlogHer DC in the comments! Will reciprocate with comments on your blog, too! xox

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  1. hswo

    I really enjoyed BlogHer DC. I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t go with a lot of expectations, but somehow learned a lot and met some great people- including you! Again, I cannot tell you how bad ass I thought your comment/question was yesterday and the closing panel. Seriously, well done!

  2. Key words I see in your post about BlogHerDC: inclusion, sharing, discussion, engaging, connecting.

    Key words I don’t see: action, plan, roadmap, progress, advancement, equality.

    I’m glad it was fun and interesting for everyone, but what truly happened at this upbeat mopefest beyond some general networking and information sharing? If the gender gap is such a dire problem, what’s the plan? Where’s the urgency?

    Truly, I wish women well in the workplace. Examples like Oprah, Ellen, Carly, Rachel, Madonna, and Hillary (see, I don’t even need last names) are terrific for everyone. You have to be in it to win it, and these women and others like them got in the game, fought hard, and conquered.

    But I like to think about what men are doing when women are at events like this. They are probably working. And ignoring things like BlogHer. This subconcious strategy has served men well – women have been chatting with each other behind men’s backs since the beginning of time – but to what real effect? I wonder how many of the boldface names above went to events like BlogHer versus kicking butt in the general arena.

    I hate to burst some bubbles, and I don’t mean to be insensitive, but let me tell you that men are not “nervous” nor “alarmed” when women get together and “organize” – they are laughing all the way to the boardroom.

  3. lindsaymaines

    I agree with the collaborative energy- it was my first BlogHer event, and I was blown away by seeing so many faces on real bodies- they weren’t little Twitter avatars on bodies, as my subconcious suggested.
    One of my favorite parts: sitting in the room, twittering the Keynote, watching others do the same, and seeing their tweets. It was one of the most powerful testaments I’ve seen to the immediacy of that medium, as was you saying “Follow me!” and my instant compliance. That’s why I love Twitter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. joanne6121994

    Wow, Mark. You’d better watch out. Men like you may not have a place at the table when women take over the boardrooms. Sorry to yo burst your bubble.

  5. Mark, I think that’s a typically male POV and one that is sadly and monumentally wrong and unfair. For instance, the founders of BlogHer themselves are “in it to win it” whatever that means. Perhaps it means starting a company worth millions with millions of members who are coveted by advertisers? Talk about influence. Several of the BlogHer contributors have used BlogHer to catapult themselves into influential members of the political blogosphere that do everything from raise money for candidates to start up websites like NotMyGal thanks to the support of BlogHer members met at events like these. I for one was inspired to start my own business and get involved in several political movements like voter suppression, working with MoveOn to stop the Democratic primary from being broadcast on Fox News. Just because women feel the need to get together once in a while without men to commune and support each other for reasons you clearly wouldn’t and don’t want to understand, doesn’t mean they aren’t accomplishing important things. I find your comment to be fairly ridiculous.

  6. Thanks for the comments, all ๐Ÿ™‚

    lindsaymaines, yes! it was so nice to see all those new twitter follows! And thank you for following!

    Mark – there weren’t many men there, but the ones that were were attentive and respectful. And as someone who is usually the one that doesn’t look like the other, it’s a nice change to be in the majority. I think for us to move forward, we do have to build strong alliances between women and men. In fact, one of our Not My Gal contributors is a male blogger and devoted father.

    joanne and myrna — yes! exactly. Thanks for commenting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. joanne6121994

    That was me, PunditMom! I need to change my WordPress log in! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Mark, your assumption that sharing and discussion preclude planning is wrong. To work from a place of mutual understanding is beneficial to either gender. Networking and connecting is one of the many areas where women have been historically excluded. If we take one day to catch up with centuries of smoky back room conversations over drinks, so be it.

    A condescending tone like yours betrays the negativity that harms everyone in the workplace, which conferences like this hope to push past. I sincerely hope you enter your work environment and check that attitude at the door.

    FYI: Since you were wondering how many of those single-name successful women would attend an event like this, Oprah kicked off the National Women’s Leadership Conference this past weekend.

  9. I think that building alliances between men and women is exactly the right thing to do. I think that having nearly all-female events with all-female panelists is precisely the wrong way to accomplish that goal. Joanne’s attitude displayed by her comment is exactly the kind of roadblock that stops such progress.

    I love that Myrna is surprised that a typical man would express a typical man’s point of view. What’s wrong with a man’s POV? Why should I feel embarassed by it? Again, this is the kind of roadblock that turns men off from collaboration. The first step in building an alliance with a group is to understand that group and then working with them; not castigating them.

    People read way too much into my words. I am trying to HELP. I don’t remember saying that BlogHer shouldn’t happen, or that women shouldn’t bond, or that the founders weren’t successful. I asked, what did it accomplish? How will the gender gap problem improve as a result of gatherings like this? What’s the roadmap going forward? I haven’t seen any answers.

  10. Tara: I meant, did Oprah attend the Women’s Forum on Females in TV and Radio when she was 25? Did Madonna belong to the Female Songwriters Society when she was 21? Did Rachel Ray join the Stay-at-Home-Mom’s Cooking Support Group at 32? Or did they basically just kick ass and take names? I greatly suspect, the latter. Mark

  11. Nerdette — Great post and so wonderful to see you yesterday. I find that these in-person meet-ups give us the opportunity to (1) meet each other “offline” for the first time (2) thank one another face-to-face for all of the support and assistance we give and get to accomplish all that we do (ranging from getting people to vote, to helping raise a family and connecting people to the political process).

    Myrna, Joanne — Right on, girlfriends.

    Mark — If you spent half the amount of time trying to actually “get it” that you do trying to “knock it,” I think you would be pleasantly surprised ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. How great is it that the presenters will welcome another person into their fold up on the dais? It was so great to connect with the rest of the bloggers (and non-bloggers) yesterday. And yes, the absence of cell phone reception was actually quite refreshing! -the DCGF

  13. Leslie – More talk about connecting, sharing, supporting, and thanking. Hey, all that is great. I do it constantly, every day of my life. But it is interesting how the discussion has shifted away from the goals of BlogHer and where the “women in tech” movement is progressing to, and into a simple-minded critique of me. My personal life is not the subject matter here. I did pose some potentially valuable comments, questions, and critiques. So good luck everyone! Last time I offer my helpful opinion. The attitude of beat-the-guy-down-hes-unfair-hes-wrong-hes-misunderstanding-hes naive-hes-a-menace-to-society-the-workplace-and-everything-else is very discouraging to men who actually want to engage with your community, like me. -Mark

  14. Mark, with respect, your comments were perceived of as being negative. And really, no one is bringing your personal life in to this.

    I think we would love to have you as an ally, but I guess the point is we don’t _need_ your help. I think for some of us, the connecting, sharing, supporting and thanking is what we’re looking for. And if that’s the outcome, we’re ok with that.

    And if you’re going to engage with a new community, best to ask questions than tell people what they need or want. Asking questions has let me eliminate (often faulty) assumptions and move successfully through almost any community.

  15. Nerdette – The way women typically describe the issue, I think that you have it backwards. I’m not trying to engage with your community, and men are not trying to engage with the women’s community. Rather, women are trying to engage the men’s community. You know, the one in charge of everything? I am opening a window for you into how we think, we feel, we perceive. Good luck with the strategy of ignoring, maligning, and sidelining it. Mark

  16. Your comments are stunningly argumentative.

  17. What is stunning is adversity to some criticism and argument, as if nothing can be challenged, when BlogHer is about challenging status quo!

  18. Mark — I don’t think anyone is going after your personal life, I certainly didn’t. And while I appreciate you participating and am all for a diverse set of voices, genders and perspectives, I am going to have to go with Nerdette on this “if youโ€™re going to engage with a new community, best to ask questions than tell people what they need or want.”

    Put another way, even if you were a woman and delivering your message in the way that you are, it would still be met with this feedback. Consider it a free focus group – your approach and message, while apparently good-intentioned – is missing its mark (pun intended ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I would also be careful speaking for too many men (“I am opening a window for you into how we think, we feel, we perceive”) – having just shared your comments with a few good guy friends, they note “what is this guy doing, he is not my guy” (play on the site’s name, heheh).

    In terms of where the “women in tech” movement is progressing and how we are getting there, through and outside of BlogHer, we continue to support and take action on everything from business development/business creation, to strategic partnerships, to educating/mentoring the next generation, to helping one another through growing up/growing old/raising a family and raising money/awareness/registered voters for local and national issues… I mean, really, the list could go on. And while “inclusion, sharing, discussion, engaging, connecting” all play a role in that, so have our days, months and years of action with respect to the “action, plan, roadmap, progress, advancement, equality.” On a final note, I think you are making a bigger issue out of syntax/verbiage (can we not all blog on our sites about enjoying ourselves?) and not realizing the communing that is going on here (not to mention, you have made your conclusions without having all the facts).

    You are the one that derailed the conversation by disrespecting the medium and the community has stepped in, thatโ€™s all. Welcome to BlogHer, we donโ€™t mess around. And there are lots of us. Millions, in fact.

    In the spirit of building a productive road out of this comment-thread, I would recommend, encourage and invite you to:

    – Come to a BlogHer event/see what we are all about first (in person)

    – Spend some time reading the plethora of BlogHer & other blogs run by women; when doing this, realize that we have non-gendered achievements, issues and opinions, too

    – Consider sitting down with me or another BlogHers and interview us for your blog and/or co-author a thought piece on the topic with me or another BlogHer (using this term as a catch-all for women bloggers).

    Until then, I will warn you, your arm chair punditry is going to continue to be met with push-back.

    PS: This is something, perhaps best discussed in person. I mean nothing personally, but don’t take well to your perceived tone; I truly think you might be trying to be helpful, just saying it in a way that is, as I noted above, missing the mark. Feel free to hit me up over email at leslieann44@gmail.com and we can set something up. I have never been one to dote in comment sections, so letโ€™s take some action here.

  19. Mark,

    I always enjoy our interactions on Twitter, and over blogs and in person…

    My general feeling is that you like to present yourself as a “real man,” who understands how “real men” think. I do appreciate that about you. I appreciate your complete loyalty to that concept.

    But (you knew it was coming), I think you might be off-base here.

    “Iโ€™m not trying to engage with your community, and men are not trying to engage with the womenโ€™s community. Rather, women are trying to engage the menโ€™s community.”

    That statement is so wrong as to almost be criminal.

    Men, “real men” have spent the better part of several million years trying to engage the women’s community.

    All joking aside, there are truly two type of people in our society, those that move towards inclusion and those that move away from it.

    I have been on record, that I dont like the fact that men cannot speak at a BlogHer conference. I still believe that. I have been on record, that it is impossible to become included if you are exclusionary by definition. I still believe that too.

    But after attending the BlogHer Annual Conference, I am also of the belief of the importance of that conference, and the work of BlogHer.

    Disenfranchised peoples need to learn how to have a voice. And often, the only place that can occur is in a group of similar and like minded people.

    For some, BlogHer is a godsend. For others, its an excuse to connect with people in a very relaxed atmosphere. Regardless, today, its necessary. And I hate that.

    One day, exclusionary groups and gatherings will no longer be necessary, but thats not today.

    Go to a BlogHer event, Mark. Go with an open mind and a closed mouth. Listen. Watch. Understand.

    You ask what has BlogHer accomplished. You ask about how BlogHer creates alliances between men and women.

    Alliances can only really be created between two equals to truly be effective (yes, there are many alliances between unequals that benefit one member more than the other – usually).

    Therefore, the first step is overcoming the institutionalized belief that women, by definition are not equal. That they should be paid less, that they do less, that they work less, etc.

    What has BlogHer accomplished? It has given some women the ability and forum to take the first step towards a real belief that “real women” are equal in stature to “real men.”

  20. Leslie –

    (1) I wouldn’t go to an event like BlogHer. Not because I dislike favorable dating sex ratios, but because I disagree with the fundamental premise of having gender-only events to solve underrepresented-minority-based problems whose solution can only come from engaging the majority. In this case, not only don’t I think they help the basic problem, they might actually hurt it. I believe that using group-specific terms (‘her’) as adjectives, prefixes, etc. has costs that outweigh the benefits.

    (2) No one can ever have all the facts, or speak for everyone from their gender, and so forth. That is an impossible standard to hold someone to. However, my views do reflect many men’s views, in whole or in part. (And here’s another view: If a woman in my workplace came over and said, ‘can you believe this guy?’ I would most definitely say, ‘no way! he’s crazy’.) And for what it’s worth, there are many women who disagree with all of your points of view.

    (3) I like the notion of a free focus group. That’s exactly what it is. But I am conducting it and seeing what you think. And I have gotten exactly what I expected out of this focus group that I have run with all of you. I didn’t disrespect the medium – I used it for book research. I don’t need to be “warned” about push-back: I deliberately created it.

    (4) You might be aware that I have a doctorate in gender-specific behavior, instincts, social behavior, genetics, and neurobiology, and that I am writing a book about these issues, particularly about urban singles in their 30s. That may influence what I hope to get out of understanding your feelings. It is probably also very different than most people at BlogHer or similar events.

    (5) To think that I don’t read blogs or books written by women is silly. Because of my research, writing, and interests, I read and watch lots of very diverse things. But do you read AskMen.com, Maxim, Playboy, Details, Men’s Vogue, Hot Rod, AlphaBeta, Man-o-Pause? On another note, we have a mutual friend who I helped get her material published, when I completely disagreed with the entire article.

    (7) I already have tentative plans for a video show with one woman, and a website with another. And you are probably aware that I had to drop out of Leslie’s excellent “gender issues in tech” podcast due to travel.

    So, thanks – I got what I wanted out of this. I’m sure we’ll all see each other in person sometime and it’ll be fun. Maybe at my housewarming party coming up. Hopefully there is lots of liquor and little agitation. Back to work! -Mark ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Micah –

    Thank you for weighing-in here. Your authenticity and lived experience shines through, for which I am at once grateful and respectful of your viewpoint. Hell, I think you even swayed me on a few things. I appreciate it immensely.

    Mark –

    Thanks for battling this out, I suppose, though I would have appreciated a call at this point ๐Ÿ˜‰

    At any rate, going point by point:

    1 – “but because I disagree with the fundamental premise of having gender-only events to solve underrepresented-minority-based problems whose solution can only come from engaging the majority”

    You can hold whatever belief you would like, so I am not here to hold you back. However, as a scientist myself, I enjoy seeing and understanding these groups — not to mention participating in them — from a gender-only perspective. Also, men are invited.

    2 – “No one can ever have all the facts, or speak for everyone from their gender, and so forth. That is an impossible standard to hold someone to.”

    Absolutely agree. As a scientist/academic/philosopher of sorts, I could not have said it better.

    As for showing my coworkers outraged, that wasn’t my approach. I got them to weigh-in because I wanted to see if I was off base, that’s all. Their response was their own. I have conducted enough scientific research to know how to get an unbiased response.

    3 – Touche. It seems like a bit of a cheap trick, to be honest, and in terms of research, you seem to go looking for something that you wanted, created it and, ergo, found it. Congratulations, that’s called biased findings.

    4 – Yes, I am aware. I also hold a degree in gender and sexuality studies from the University of Chicago, where I trained under some of the preeminent thinkers and theorists of our time. Your approach here is neither academic, nor scientific, so I am not sure what you are getting at. Congrats on the book.

    5 – “To think that I donโ€™t read blogs or books written by women is silly.”

    I never said that. I just encouraged you to spend some more time with them. My comment still stands ๐Ÿ˜‰

    “But do you read AskMen.com, Maxim, Playboy, Details, Menโ€™s Vogue, Hot Rod, AlphaBeta, Man-o-Pause?”

    Yes and yes. I have been a longtime reader of Playboy, Maxim and Men’s Vogue. I have in fact done research on the male fantasy and written on the subject previously. I am very pro-guys perspective and pro-male-appeal materials/sites/etc. While I am pretty overloaded with two jobs and a few other things at the moment, on your suggestion, I will add the others to my list (most of which I have heard of in passing). Thank you for your recommendation.

    [no 6?]

    7 – Sounds like you are all set. Glad you got what you needed, though, in the future, you could definitely have gone about it in a more professional and/or scientific way. I am also afraid that your perspective is going to be biased given your approach, but hey, its your research and name and not mine. On that note ~ If you are going to quote me on anything, I would appreciate being asked permission (as would the others on this thread, I would imagine).

    Cheers,
    Leslie

  22. Thanks Leslie and Micah!

  23. Oh wait – you don’t want to read Hot Rod, AlphaBeta, and Man-o-Pause, LOL I’m sure there’s better stuff out there! 8D

  24. I really, really wanted to talk to you. I was very intrigued by your “3rd wave feminism comment” but alas, never got a chance. Great post!

  25. jodifur! Thanks for commenting!

    It was great hearing about your blog and about when you started writing about political stuff too (as a departure from your normal content.) It was a real testiment to the power of how readers respond to authentic voices.

    I’m looking forward to talking with you more!! Love your Top Ten at http://jodifur.blogspot.com/

  26. I tried to email you but can’t find your email. email me at jodi@lucidphoenix.com

  27. I’m reading all those comments above and am entirely too tired to get into…but let me just state, Micah just wiped the floor with Mark.

    Besides that…my real point here…Nerdette needs a #suckit sticker and I shall mail her one.

    And I was just as thrilled meet you ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Queen of Spain!!! YAY I will put the sticker on my laptop! #Suckit is the best. Hashtag. Evah! ๐Ÿ™‚

    You know why I think BlogHerDC was so exciting to me? We gals really all tribal, and I think seeing so many of us together in a room… it lifts me up.

    I often have to go to meetings where I walk in the room and I’m the only woman there. And when I rarely do bump into other women, I always get the same wide-eyed, happy reaction. As if her body language says “OH HAI, I am so glad you’re here! I’m not alone anymore!”

  29. Queen of Spain, no one wiped the floor with anybody. I know Micah, I know Leslie, we all have some honest disagreements and opinions, and argue forcefully for them. And I’m sure we will continue to discuss these opinions in other places. I am totally cool with these differences. Your “gotcha” comment adds nothing constructive to the discussion. Mark

  30. I am a veteran of three national BlogHer conferences – San Jose, Chicago and San Francisco. Orson Scott Card talks about people who go to the Internet to “find their tribe.” Well in large part BlogHer has become that for me. I am older than most of my BlogHer friends (that’s true in much of my life since I’ve worked online for so long) but we have much to share. And the sharing and collaboration of which you speak is a true part of the community. The DC event was no exception. A gathering of women has a power all its own – when it’s a crew of ornery-by-definition bloggers it’s VERY true. I’m so glad you loved it — welcome home!

  31. Love your site, enjoyed BlogHer, and happy to hear more about your 3rd wave. Feminism has needed reclaiming for some time.

  32. Nerdette: LOVED meeting and chatting with you at BlogHer DC… sorry it took me this long to reply to this thread of yours. Hope to stay in touch, and I hope you’ll come visit my blog when you need a dose of economics. Keep up the great work. –Diane (economistmom)




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