Newsflash: BlogHer Supports Women
Michael Gray gave Google the day off and decided to pick on women instead, or more specifically, BlogHer. Michael claims that the BlogHer conference is guilty of sexual discrimination. He’s offended that there weren’t any male speakers included on the BlogHer agenda and says males who did attend were treated as second class citizens. Cry me a river, Michael. How do you know how men were treated? You didn’t attend.
He’s right that there weren’t any male speakers at BlogHer this weekend. Because, as Michael mocks, BlogHer is a conference designed to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment. For those confused, that means the show is heavily geared and marketed towards women, with lots of women speakers.
Michael asks: “Have you ever been to conference where a panel was made up of all men? How about an entire conference where all of the speakers where only men? Awkward aren’t they?”
You know what, Michael, I have been to a conference where a panel was made up of all men. I’ve been to a lot of them because I work in the technology industry where its male dominated, expected, allowed and the norm. How many people even notice when the male/speaker ratio is 8:1 at a typical gadget show? And if a female were to blog about it, she’d get blasted for being anti-men and playing the victim. Where’s the balance there?
I agree with Michael’s argument that conference organizers should strive for balance, but the truth is, they don’t. I don’t think BlogHer was stronger for having only women speakers. The reason I attended was NOT because I wanted to be surrounded by chicks. I would have liked to hear from strong blogging men that I don’t see on a daily basis. But at the same time, I’m okay with BlogHer being all women. It’s their show and it’s theirs to run.
And if you’re so concerned with balance, why don’t you give up one of your many speaking spots to help promote a woman, Michael? Or tell me why there is not one woman scheduled to speak at The New New Internet conference happening in April? At SMX Advanced, everyone looks forward to the Give It Up session. Where were the women there? (To his credit, Danny called the lack of female presence “bullshit” and said it would be corrected next year.)
I realize Michael’s just trying to get people fired up and I would have ignored his BlogHer rant, but then he trotted even further over the line:
However if you are a man and you want to attend BlogHer, you’re treated like second class citizen, only to be seen and not heard…Do you think Blogher should only have women speakers, what if I told you I was organizing a conference and only men were speaking? The only way women can get in was to pay the full admission price, and go sit quietly in the audience. Have a few choice names you’d like to call me after reading that, then why is it OK for blog her to do the exact same thing, and you’re OK with that, or somehow find that empoering?
Wow, Michael. Is it empowering to throw out blatant lies and pretend they’re facts? Because that’s what you just did.
Let’s get this straight: Men were NOT treated like second class citizens at the event. Though seriously outnumbered, there were men present in every session. There were male speaking their minds at the keynotes, at the parties, on the floor, and everywhere else. I know because I saw them and spoke to them. They were not discriminated against.
For all Michael’s fighting that men should have been speaking, did he nominate any to speak? Did any man want to speak and was rejected because of his gender? He points to the 2005 BlogHer survey as his “proof” that men weren’t invited to speak, but that’s from three years ago and was in reference to the first-ever BlogHer, which I’m sure was a lot more woman-focused. Unless Michael knows of a man that was turned away recently, his rant is just that, a baseless rant that attempts to damage BlogHer.
I’ll be honest with you. As I joked all weekend with Lorna Harris and Matt Cutts (a MAN!), I felt out of place at BlogHer. Walking into the Westin St. Francis and being greeted by a swarm of females was intimidating. Working in a male dominated field, I’m not used to being around women anymore. When I’m at the typical SES or SMX, I don’t even notice how badly I’m outnumbered. My gender has never been an issue for me, probably because I don’t make it one. I don’t classify myself as a “woman in tech” or a “woman in blogging”. I never have. But at the same time, when an opportunity arose for me to spend two days surrounded by people who do what I do but who also have breasts, I jumped at it.
Why is BlogHer needed? Because every time the gender card is played in regards to why women never speak at conferences, the organizers swear up and down that “they tried”. That “they contacted women” and “they didn’t respond”. Maybe BlogHer will help make some of these female faces more visible. Maybe one day we won’t need a wiki to find female conference speakers. Until all that happens, you can’t blame women for seeking out opportunities to connect with one another.
It’s sad that men can’t join in the fight to empower women, but instead cry about their own failure to request an invite to the party. It’s sad that instead of celebrating the success of BlogHer 2008, we’re being forced to defend its right to exist. Shame on me for allowing that to happen.