Update: the saga continues with Chase over at Taste the World. She disagrees with me, but that is ok. I know I am always right.
I have expressed my dismay that men are coming to BlogHer on several occasions, and I have gotten both shit and support for my opinion. As the grand event approaches, I still have the same view that I had in the beginning: I wish that it would be all-women.
I am happy, though, because I have learned something I never would have expected to learn while thinking about this subject: I have realized what White Privilege means. This is a concept that is bandied about on blogs dealing with race and feminism, and one that often attracts hateful, vituperative comments (see Nubian's posts on the issue at Blac(k)ademic). People just can't see the reality of privilege and get all bent out of shape when one group wants to segregate itself to do some important work without outsiders there.
I hadn't thought that much about it until I started wondering why men would come to a women's blogging event, then it all sprang up in front of me, fully formed and 3-D.
Here's what happened: I tried to get into the heads of men coming to BlogHer. Sure, some are coming for purely commercial purposes. But what is going on with the others?
The same stupid things that go through MY foolish white head when I think I can hang with people of color and somehow magically transmogrify into one of them:
I'm not like all those other white people.
I am cooler than that.
I am practically one of these people.
I understand them.
I have insights that make me special.
I appreciate their culture.
I like their music/food/dance/clothing.
They must like hanging out with me. They're always so nice to me!
It was like a slap on the head when this all became clear. If there ever was a time for rueful laughter, this was it. I understood! I have white privilege and they have male privilege and these two things behave in exactly the same way! We are so used to being seen as the norm, the accepted, that when someone doesn't want us around, we are baffled, hurt, mad..."But, but, but WHY? Why, when I am practically one of you?" That's our privilege talking.
These men think they can hang with us women because they are special, different, they are the kind of guys we would WANT to hang out with, not like those other guys. The blindness their privilege grants them is that they cannot see they ARE the other guys, just like I am all those other white people.
And yeah, since they are showing up, we will be nice to them, we will indulge them, and that will make them believe even more that they are practically one of us. But you know what? They aren't, and they won't ever be. Despite what we tell ourselves, males still occupy a privileged place in the world, and that alone is reason enough to create women-only spaces.
That forms the real basis of my objections to them coming to BlogHer - they aren't us, so why do we bother with this false front, this ruse? Can't there be ONE weekend for women?
Once again - either go all the way and make the thing a mixed bloggers conference, or make it what it was designed to be, all-women. Don't try to make everyone happy and hopelessly water it down. Seems simple to me.
Linkateria is hot today.