What ruffled my feathers at PodCamp Boston: In defense of the “Mommyblogger”August 9, 2009
Yesterday I went to Podcamp Boston. Overall I had a decent time. There were some interesting discussions and I met some nice people. This post is not about the event itself. The event was well run, was in a great venue (though I was SO dehydrated, couldnt find any water!) and the planned sessions were topical. I also really liked the fact that anyone could dream up a discussion and host it. We had a great non-profit/higher education discussion at lunch because of that very reason.
One of these sessions was held outside. The gist of it was.. How can we, as women, empower ourselves and speak up for ourselves and each other to be speakers and presenters in a male dominated field. What is it about us that lets the men get all of those gigs when there are so many amazing, talented and smart women in the tech/social media world.
And it mostly was. Both men and women attended and everyone was eager to participate. There were some great things said and some great conversation but it was one line and a subsequent reaction that threw me WAY off kilter about the whole thing and in fact about the whole day. Maybe thats exaggerating a little but I will try to explain.
Before the conversation began there was mention of mommybloggers.. and I said I was one. I also mentioned that I do more than that as a profession. It was clear to me that just the mere mention of mommyblogger got me judged (incorrectly) from that point on. After that the discussion began and we talked about empowerment and supporting each other, how it shouldnt matter what color, race, religion you are or how pretty you are, just that you contribute and contribute well… all great things.
During the conversation there was one woman who was speaking and I’m going to quote the best I can here.. she said “Mommybloggers, look at them, they attack each other over parenting techniques and stab each other in the back! Ugh!” Then made sure to clarify that she was not currently and did not intend to ever be a mother. There was another who after this said “I am NOT a mommyblogger!” and then repeated it. Her site even has the word “mommy” in it.
This kinda crushed the whole purpose surrounding this great session for me.
So let me get this straight.. you can be black, white, red, yellow, purple or green blogger… Just dont be a mom blogger.
Lets take a look at this for a second and turn it around a bit.
Lets replace “mommyblogger” with another world I am very familiar with… “JewishBlogger”.
“Jewishbloggers, look at them, they attack each other over how to practice their religion and stab each other in the back! Ugh!”
First things first. Both of these statements are true. And I think they are true for whatever type of blogger you plug into place. But replace “Mommy” with “Jewish” and then you’re attacking a religion and that gets sticky. But why is one ok and not the other?
Also, if you think all mommybloggers are like that, then you are reading the wrong blogs. There are so many amazing “mommyblogs” out there by incredible, smart women who are also well versed in subjects such as politics, privacy law, human rights, greening our planet and yes, they also talk about their kids. They blog with integrity and dont attack others for their choices. Its like saying white chicks are all blondes with blue eyes.
Second of all this is EXACTLY what is wrong with women in tech (or any male dominated industry, hell any industry at all).
We are open! We are inclusive! We’re smart! We want to empower/support each other!
But as long as you’re not a mommyblogger. And I’ll judge you first and help you second.. but only if I like you. And then only if you’re of a certain status, or have the right friends. Maybe.
Ladies, we are our own worst enemies. It isnt the men, or the technology industry or circumstances. Its us. We are clique-y, bitchy and territorial and thats what stops us from moving forward and up, from being invited to be speakers and presenters in places, specifically the more industry driven conferences, where we dont already have a personal contact (or have already made a significant impact). We dont put ego aside and give a stranger advice and help. We dont try to eliminate stereotypes and prejudice, but instead we enforce them. We dont really listen, we only experience the surface. Noone wants The Drama.
We are stepping on our own feet. It really has to stop. But it wont, and thats the biggest shame of all.
By just scanning the surface, you really miss out on alot. We all do.
The fact of the matter is that I have been in the social media space for ten years. I am fluent in many aspects of social media, as well as technical aspects of the web. Had you looked past the “mommyblogger” thing, you might have found out what interesting things I am doing and why I might possibly be HIRING people like you in the not so far away future for those things you pride yourselves in being so great at. Specifically blogging, video and podcasting, because some of those are skills you have that I dont, or I need the extra voices. And perhaps I have a skill that you dont, that you want to know more about and we could have shared some coffee and gave each other great information that could have been the start of a great collaboration. Or perhaps I have the beginning of an idea that I’d love to bounce off another smart woman who is in the same industry. Maybe I know a source of funding for your innovative idea. Perhaps I just need some advice from someone. Hell maybe I just wanted to bitch about what is NOT happening in this industry.
We need to be mentors for the future. We need to sincerely offer a hand or an ear or connect two people who might ultimately help each other. We need to be the conduit for change, for empowerment, for intellectual advancement. We need to take the time for each other. Stop for a moment. Listen.
I saw you sitting there.. in that circle on the grass.. all of you incredibly smart, driven women, proud, as you should be, of your accomplishments. People whose blogs I want to follow, people I want to know. Open yourselves up. Dont be blindsided by a word or typecast an individual because of subject matter.
Step it up, ladies. I know from now on, I will.
edited to add that I am just now realizing that the last paragraph in my previous post is a great lead in to this.
p.s. I’m totally PMSing
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