Now the question is : Should we invite men to Bloghercon or not?
Neither – Do not advertise it as a women only or men invited conference. You’re probably saying “Huh? That’s not an answer!” Just advertise it as what it is – A conference that focuses on women’s issues in blogging.
Having attended an all female college and been involved in feminist organizations, when you advertise a women-focused event, most men assume that it’s a women-only event. Opening the conference to males but framing it in such a way that we *will* focus on women’s issues in blogging, what it means to be a woman and a blogger and in a male-dominated tech environment may just in and of itself separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. The men that are interested in the subject and want to make a contribution will attend. The others won’t. From reading Dave Winer’s comments on Lisa Stone posing this question , it seems that the fear of women bloggers getting together en-masse is that valuable information and progress will exclude any male bloggers who wants to be a part of understanding the issues and making the blogosphere a better place. But it’s also a very powerful act. Maybe that’s the objection to it?
There are male feminists who help to give a different view of the issues and have valuable knowledge that enriches a discussion. I say feminist because a feminist is one who believes women should have equal rights. There’s no mention of gender in the definition. And I bring up the “F” word because the state of women in blogging is a feminist issue.
Dave Winer doesn’t like the idea of a women-only event, or, if I’m reading it correctly, a women’s issues only event. (I’m picking on him because he’s the lone male voice in this so far.) I understand part of his point of view. The only true advancements in gender issues can only happen when men and women work together, and we should be working on the human race as a whole. But I have concern that his comment is an indicator that men do not see that women still do not have an equal say in our society. Yes there are lots of women saying things, but actually influencing things, not so much. And you can’t expect BloggerCon to transcend this inequality and be able to comfortably and effectively discuss women’s issues in blogging. It’s not that the women aren’t ready for it. It’s that the men aren’t comfortable with it.
So Elle has a valid point in saying “No boys!” I do like the idea of a women’s only event. It’s powerful. It’s comforting. It’s encouraging. But I think of the one guy that was in my women’s studies class. He might have felt isolated, but when it came to questions like “Well what do guys think about this?” – we had a voice. And how can we enlighten men on what we see if we’re not even letting them into the conference. If a man is interested in a conference like this, he’ll come and hopefully will not be intimidated and will contribute. If you’re worried about sexists, my experience is that they’ll avoid it.
The conversation about allowing men could turn into a whole long discussion on the communication and group behavior differences between men and women and how the mere presence of a man in the room will oftentimes make a women censor herself if she feels she is not in an environment where the mere mention of the “F” word will get her labeled as a femi-nazi. (Ah.. how I miss those discussions in college.) And that’s why we need a conference! And to build a community of women.
Essentially, when blogging you’re communicating and forming online communities of people who read a particular blog. We’re creating groups when we form linking rings or creating a loyal audience. By having this women-focused conference we’re examining the natural progression of this medium, its place in society and the women’s issues around it. (Women’s issues run the whole gamut from childcare and healthcare to sexuality and religion.)
Just because a group of women get together does not mean that it will automatically turn into a She-woman man-haters club bitch fest. Why do people automatically assume that male-bashing will be tolerated when the ground rules and framework of the conference have yet to be established? And just because Shelley makes certain comments on her personal blog that can be taken the wrong way by the opposite sex, does not mean she’ll bitch and bash men at the conference. I thought it was a hilarious tongue-in-cheek look at linking.
For blogs that sound like they’re male-bashing, maybe the tone of the author has been misunderstood. But there are women out there that are harsh on the male sex. However it’s not like there aren’t men who harsh on the female sex. And if you can’t understand why there’s a need for a women and blogging conference, perhaps you just need to walk in my shoes for a day and know the feeling of having someone assume you don’t know a technology or issue just because you’re “a girl”, when in actuality you know more about than they do. Then you may understand why some women are getting a bit passionate about this subject.
Oh and if the men want to devote time to men’s issues and blogging, go for it.