24 July 2006

That men at BlogHer thing again

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.

31 comments:

Lisa said...

I think they're going for the same reason they fought for Hooter's waitress jobs.

Aren't you all going to be wearing short-orange-shorts at Blogher?

Lisa said...

My hubby wanted to come to BlogHer too. That's when I said, "Well, how about we do a different trip instead." Because if I'm going to go, I want to be with the chicks and have fun talking about the stuff we all talk about... So yeah I know what you mean.

cameo said...

well said sue! well said! i think you've hit the nail right smack dab on the head.
i hope you all have a great time this weekend. it would be great for you guys to take lots of pictures for the rest of us to see. (minus the men, of course!)

Elizabeth said...

It would be interesting to ask one of the BlogHer founders this question. They must have originally intended the conference to be just for women or they would have named it BlogPEOPLE, right? And I'd also be curious to know who the first man to register last year was. What, he saw the conference info online and thought "hey, I want to go to a conference called BlogHER, even though I'm a man!"? It is odd, I have to say.

Changeseeker said...

Nicely done!

Chase said...

Perfect timing - I just wrote about this same subject. :) You and I disagree on this 100%, apparently. LOL!

Lisa Stone (founder of BlogHer) has always said men are encouraged to join in...because they support women bloggers (which is what this whole thing is all about..it's NOT just about being a women).

I don't see why men being there makes anyone assume they are trying to be a woman (or be better than a woman) - just the same as me having a black friend isn't me trying to be black. We're all just human.

Seems like if the world would just stop drawing those lines, there'd be a lot less strife. :)

Hujo said...

Yeah leave those smelly men at home er somthing?

ElisaC said...

Hi, I think I commented on this the last time I saw Suebob blog about it.

We never originally intended the conference to be just for women. We intended the organization and conference to be about creating opportunities for education, exposure and community for women bloggers. And in the world men can often be a part of those opportunities.

BlogHer was never "designed" to be all women, never stated to be so...we have always been totally open to men and open about that.

Given the fact that Lisa, Jory and I were just three bloggers who decided to "put on a show" I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to create an all-women anything to do so. It is very rewarding to create something you believe in.

And you know, whenever a man asks me what I'd think if he started a BlogHim I always say: "I think you should do it and be willing to take the heat for it if it's something you passionately believe in."

:)

Elizabeth said...

Thank you Elisa, for replying and for clarifying the original intentions of BlogHer. Since my reasons for going are to improve my blog and meet my blog friends, I doesn't matter if men are there or not. I don't happen to have any male readers, but maybe I'll get some after this weekend.

Sue, please email me your cell phone number!

MsLittlePea said...

Godd point...but then again they could be just looking to score.....

one smarmy mama said...

DING DING DING!! EX-fucking-ACTLY.

In thinking about the whole Blog Her thing, it kind of seems like a very gentrified concept anyhow. I mean, I *can't* go. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I was thinking of how cool it would be to organize a women-only grassroots kind of blogger/online convention of sorts.

wordgirl said...

Well said, my friend. Well said.

Of course, my view of mixing male and female writers is different from bloggers. I'm used to attending writing functions that are set up for the express purpose of addressing writers in general...regardless of gender. Blogging is the same thing, but if something is set up to address certain issues facing only women, I do question men who want to ride on our coattails.

Hujo said...

How dare those ignorant men try to take an interest in understanding you ladies!!!
LOL They obviously can’t be trusted!!! It is most likely a pathetic attempt to get in your pants or something ridiculously paranoid and anti-male like that.

I say segregation is a step backwards, I also think the real reason feminists don’t like men attending the feminist functions is that we have a nasty habit of poking holes in all the Bs feminist philosophy at least that’s why a few feminist ex girlfriends started leaving me at home after I took an interest, it’s the same reason many feminist’s blogs prefer “safe spaces” as all that annoying reality gets in the way of the perpetual pity party!

:p

madness rivera said...

I love that you tackled this topic. Though I think if there are men genuinely supporting women bloggers or who want to hear their fav bloggers speak, then good for them. Also, they are financially supporting BlogHer. Even better. An all male blogger event would piss us off even more and we'd cry sexim or hankipanky or sliminess . . .

Queen of Spain said...

I had to think about this for a bit before I commented.

My husband will attend a cocktail party. Not because he's trying to get laid. Or because he thinks he gets us chicks. But because he's supporting what is going on. He thinks promoting women bloggers and networking for women bloggers is super cool. And something he wants to be involved in.

He's also coming as my Manny.

Now, some of the other guys coming. I haven't figured out yet. And honestly, I'm confused by it. WHY would they want to be there? They can't all be as golden hearted as my man. They MUST have some evil motive somewhere.

Or do they?

I don't know. But if they are supporting this cause, then so be it.

And if they really are showing up hoping to get laid, and they've spent any time at ALL checking out the women of BlogHer, the strong, opinionated, talented, progressive, did I mention STRONG women of blogher...then they are idiots for picking this demo. I mean, seriously. Are they really that stupid?
Maybe.

Chase said...

Heheheh!! I like your update. ;) That's why you're awesome.

super des said...

tell these "men" to start reading my blog. I don't have any male readers. My demographic is off.

Mom101 said...

This is such an interesting perspective. I read it twice. I see both points but in the end, I'm cool with men being there as long as it doesn't make anyone censor themselves. Speak freely women! I wanna hear you roar!

Holly Capote said...

Ahh, I've been reading so much about separatism that I'm starting to think, "'kay. Balkanize all you want. Fracture and fracture until every one is a nation of one."

'cept Orwell had it right. You can kick the men out of the house and run them off the farm, but then the "more equal than others" critters will spout penises, albeit metaphysical dicks, and they'll be seated at the table while the "less equal than others" females are relegated to the barn. It happened back in the 60s on communes when select dykes cut themselves off from men. It would happen at BlogHer if men were removed from the mix.

I know that's harsh, but this mistake has already been made, again and again. Why must it be made yet again?

Kafir said...

Capote:

Some people are already wondering why you are such an apologist for institutionalized white racism.

But These Silvia/Wise types have an agenda that they aren't so gung ho about disclosing.

Kafir said...

You know, the part where their morals don't line up with the 'normative' ones.

Holly Capote said...

kafir:

Huh?

I'd respond with precision if I had a clue what you're implying. However, I'll try.

Who are some people? I have a hard time believing that what I post on the Internet actually induces "some people" to have a chat about whether I'm "an apologist for institutionalized white racism." And if some people care enough about the extemporaneous words of someone they'll never know, I urge them to take up needlepoint. Or hopscotch. Anything that will stand between them and perseverating about my guesses.

And what does "institutionalized white racism" have to do with Orwell? Or BlogHer? Or dykes aspiring to separatism? Or any of what I mentioned. It's a non-sequitur.

I suspect that your seeming strawman is because what I wrote provoked you, but rather than topically veer, your energy might be better expended considering your provocation.

You suggest that I'm a racist...or a mouthpiece for racism. And you allude to a Silvia/Wise types assuming that I have a clue as to your reference. So, you're coupling aggression with passive aggression.

And you seem to believe that you have a clue as to my agenda.

Here's my agenda in 3 syllables: protect voices.

If you can't comprehend that, here it is in the negative: don't balkanize.

And here's the rationale: whereas it's easy to bond by making the OTHER of someone with a penis or white skin or whatever, the resultant community is a canard. I already cited Orwell and I return to him, for the analogy of "Animal Farm" remains apt. If you haven't read the book, do so. It doesn't take a pink penis to want to fuck the world. That desire to OTHER someone, anyone, is in all of us.

Hell, you just OTHERED me: you and "some people."

Holly Capote said...

Kafir, in case you're still confused, I side with the A.C.L.U. and the First Amendment. I admire how the A.C.L.U. protects Nazi voices and neocon voices and radical voices. I think people will articulate, whether they're given a public platform or not. It's best that Nazis march in the streets rather than plot in basements. A covert enemy is always more dangerous than an overt one.

And whereas BlogHer women will gather and assume similarity on the basis of plumbing, if you REALLY KNEW many women, you'd understand that we're more than diverse. We're disparate. We assume a similarity that isn't there, but our insistence upon it demands that women feign commonality. Enable a group of women to articulate from their unfettered interiors and you'll see that commonality is a pretty veneer that we apply to disguise difference, for people and women in particular crave conformity and stasis.

Kafir, hundreds of times in my life strangers have said to me, "I can't believe what I've just told you. I've never told that to anyone."

And these hundreds of strangers have confided their disparate differences to me because I don't crave conformity. Rather, I crave it, being human, but I resist the craving, being an artist and a deliberate being and a person aware of her mortality and not willing to live a partially unlived life.

I don't know if you've understood what I've written. Perhaps you've just revert to further invective and OTHERING me. Or perhaps you'll hush your contrary voices long enough to believe that I truly believe in the value of voice. Like John Donne, I believe that we are all diminished by the loss of a voice.

I don't see trolls beneath every bridge. Rather, I see people in pain, trying to bridge disparity of perception and experience.

Holly Capote, YOUR OTHER, YOUR Silvia/Wise type

Kafir said...

Oh don't be such a gormless chugger, I didn't mean to get your knickers in a twist.

We know the signifigancies of Orwell.

btw, I'm saying you were right, but the silvia/Wise (in your case 3rd gen fems) types will levy charges of supporting institutional racism (in your case institutional patriarchy)for disagreeing with their idea that discriminating on racial (in your example gender) lines can level the playing field.

Holly Capote said...

Ahh, I admitted confusion at the start and I should have stuck with that.

I think I'm following you now: some people, because I protect voice, will accuse me of being an apologist for institutionalized racism. It's not that you necessarily know these people or that they have a clue or a care about me. It's just that my position can provoke an "institutionalized racism" accusation from Silvia/Wise types.

"Gormless chugger"? I had to Google that. I suspect that you rarely often have the phrase, "You're a charmer," aimed at you.

Kafir said...

You got it mate,

The similarities between the ideologies of the 3rd gen fems and those of wise/silvia are striking.

Suebob pointed that out on the blog of Granny:

suebob:

" have been doing a lot of thinking about white and/or male privilege. A lot of that is due to your influence. My most recent post on the subject was:
http://redstapler23.blogspot.com/2006/07/that-men-at-blogher-thing-again.html

Check the comments. You'll see the same dynamics you are talking about here. Interesting."

Holly Capote said...

Kafir, I gave it a look-see. I once posted at Granny's, but she sees trolls-trolls-trolls everywhere...and I think some of her faithful are second-guessing her, as they should. What's the point of raising a point if you don't subject that point to intellectual rigor? I'm old enough to have witnessed segregation and desegregation and now I'm seeing resegregation, because desegregation is hard and dangerous and often verbally, emotionally, and intellectually violent, but that's where the real work is: building a dialogue vessel that will hold the heat, whether it's boys at BlogHer or dissenting voices at Granny's blog.

I think the pain of most persons is too precious to them to share.

Kafir, I saw you raising the heat at Granny's blog and I saw Granny promptly shut off the power supply. It's hard to raise the heat, to ask the unwelcome questions, to counter the momentum of the majority position. One way or another, the majority will construct a cross and hang you from it.

Kafir said...

Yup.

No ammount of neomarxist claptrap can hide THAT.

Holly Capote said...

Wish we could meet for coffee, kafir. You don't just have a backbone. You have a burnin' backbone.

Love your moniker too.

Anonymous said...

I'm not at BlogHer06, but did attend '05, and am curious to hear your thoughts on the men's presence once it's over. I was similarly skeptical last year, but ultimately found the 9:1 F:M ratio far more powerful than an all-women's event might have been. The men played benign supporting roles, while the women completely ran (and I mean RAN) the show, with - for lack of a better phrase - a women's sense of participatory community. The divergence from the usual power balance and conference dynamic was stark and utterly refreshing. In the end the presence of a minority of tech-savvy, respectful men felt, well, radical.

Today I came across this statement by whump, one of my favorite (feminist) male bloggers, who is attending BlogHer06 with his partner. Hopefully he is representative of this year's male cohort:

A suggestion for my fellow men at Blogher
Many of the men here at Blogher are technology veterans, and we have knowledge to share. However, this is also a space for women to find their voices, share their expertise, and build their confidence. I know there’s an urge to contribute in the sessions, but let me suggest that you hold your comments for a followup post tagged with “Blogher 2006″, and let women speak. It’s their space, let’s honor it. People will find our contributions later, when they are ready. More Like This WebLog

Do come report back once it's over.

Clampett said...

me too, I had to snatch it up.

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