I’ve been thinking a lot this week about girls – the way they socialize, the way they learn, the way they are taught and the way they are perceived. We’ve been looking at sleep-away camps for my daughters over the last couple of months and the one thing both of them requested is an all girls camp. This never would’ve occurred to me just a few years ago when they were 5 and played equally with boys and girls, but now that they’re 8 I can see how a summer of girl power would be just the right thing. Watching the camp DVDs and reading the literature has made me realize that there is something special, something that deserves to be nurtured in a single-sex environment, something freeing about just being at a place that celebrates being female – and it applies to grown women and women’s conferences as well.
This past month two major women’s blogger conferences announced that their next conference would include male bloggers and stop being “mom” focused and become “parent” focused. Type-A Mom will change its name to Type-A Parent – they already added a dad track this past year, and Mom 2.0, one of the largest momblogging conferences is now looking to focus on “innovation” meaning bringing in men to speak and attend. How that is innovative I’m not sure. This past August many dad bloggers crashed BlogHer to mingle with the brands and attend the parties, which many female bloggers, myself included, felt was mildly annoying in some cases to outright rude and schnorr-y in others. Here is a movement built by women, conferences created for women by women, with sponsors and companies finally recognizing the power of those women – and yet we are still so damn accommodating that we smile and welcome the men into the scene because hey we’re all in this together right? Wrong.
According to Technorati’s 2010 State of the Blogosphere only 1/3 of bloggers are women, in some areas this is vastly smaller like science, technology and politics – and few women bloggers make it on any major media’s Top 25 or 100 blogger lists unless it’s a specific list for mombloggers. So why then are we so eager to cede the one space we have carved out for women when we should be expanding it to push more women into the limelight and up the rungs of the general blogging ladder rather than cannibalizing our own space? This has nothing to do with not liking dad bloggers in general. There are dad bloggers I think are great and read regularly. When I’m at PR events or blogging conferences that are meant for everyone I love seeing the male bloggers and writers I know and respect. But these conferences – these women centered conferences – they were created for a reason and that reason has not disappeared: women’s voices are still marginalized.
I’ve been thinking about this so much lately that I reread Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas. Though she talks about women and fiction the same ideas apply to all writing and especially to blogging since having a blog/voice of one’s own has never been easier. But, the same stereotypical impulses survive. Women bloggers who have children are categorized as “mom” bloggers when in fact, according to that Technorati survey, only 13% of “mombloggers” write about parenting. The fact that they still label them “mom” bloggers probably best illustrates my point.
So yes, invite everyone to your Blog World Expo and Web 2.0, invite a man to speak at BlogHer if he’s the best person for the job, but keep the conferences for women. To find their voices, share their stories, lift each other up, make a fool of themselves singing at the tops of their lungs or cheering when they finish the high ropes course (oh wait, that’s the camp DVD I just watched – or maybe not…) Hopefully you get my point. There’s nothing wrong with saying these 3 days, they’re for women only, and while we love you guys too this is about something else. We don’t need to apologize or explain. We should just be proud of what women have created and think about how much more work needs to be done by and for women. I for one can’t wait to see my daughters grow up and thrive in dynamic real and virtual rooms of their own, without making excuses for why the signs on the doors say “no boys allowed.”
- Essential Statistics from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 (toprankblog.com)
- Technorati Buys Silicon Valley Womens Group (paidcontent.org)