Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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My BlogHer/Feminism Rant

Wow, I’m like totally the captain of late blogging. BlogHer was like eleventy billion weeks ago and I’m just getting around to blogging my rant.

First of all, a picture of all the cards I brought home from BlogHer:

I don’t even have time to keep up with the blog feeds that I currently subscribe to, so I have no idea how I will find time to check out all of these. In fact, I haven’t yet checked a single one of these yet! But I *swear* will get to them, because there were definitely some cool people with cool sounding blogs that I need to check out!

Secondly, an obligatory feminist rant. Or rants, really.

Rant#1: I’ve already mentioned that the majority of the people I met at BlogHer were mommy bloggers, most of whom had little or no interest in talking to you if you had no kids1. When I’m at a conference, the first things I ask when I meet someone new are “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” but I can’t count how many women I met whose first question was, “How many kids do you have?” or “How old are your kids?” And, seriously, many of them didn’t want to talk to you if you weren’t a mom.

I noticed on the conference agenda that there was going to be a session called, “Who We Are: Women Without Children and the Blogosphere” and I thought, “Hmm…, maybe that’s where the non-mommy bloggers go.” But then I read the description, which said:

You might be childfree by choice because you always knew you didn’t want children, or it might have snuck up on you, and you decided or work to be content as you were. Either way there are definitely times when it’s like being a fish out of water in this society…online and off. Lisa Stone likes to say that “the only thing harder than being a mother in this culture is being a woman who chose not to be a mother.” Join Laurie White, Teri Tith, Suebob Davis and Laura Scott, who have a lot to say on the subject!

To me, that sounds like a “Hey! Did you decide that you never, ever, ever want kids? Or did you accidentally get old and barren when you weren’t paying attention and totally missed the boat? Come to our bitter fest where we complain about how people are mean to us because we are and forever will be childless!” Now, I realize that I’ve been complaining (some might say “bitterly”) about people being less than hospitable to me because I’m childless, but (a) I’m not (necessarily) childless for ever, so I don’t fit into that group any more than I fit into the mommy bloggers groups and, more importantly, (b) why do women have to be categorized by their uterine-status? Do men get categorized, judged and in- or excluded from things because they are daddies vs. childless?2

Which brings me to my Rant#2.  Specifically, a rant about swag. In the various swag bags that I picked up over the weekend3, there was not 1, but 2, samples of laundry detergent. At a blogging conference. Seriously. I mean, do you get samples of laundry detergent at your average (i.e., non-gender specific) blogging or tech conferences? Do men not do laundry? I know that, on average, women do more housework than men do, so I can see why laundry soap companies’ marketing departments, target women, but it doesn’t make it right! Shouldn’t we be demanding that men do their half the housework?? And what about single men? Don’t they do their own laundry? The single men that I know do, so why isn’t there laundry detergent in their swag bags?

And then there was iRobot, the makers of the Roomba. You know, the robot vacuum cleaner that cleans your carpets & floors. Now, I will admit that I TOTALLY want a Roomba. Because I, like any sensible person, hate vacuuming. But again, does Roomba show up at the exhibitor’s room at other blogging conferences? Well, I asked their rep and the conversation went something like this:

Me: So, do you go to other blogging conferences, or just this one?

Her: Well, this is the first one we’ve been to. We are going to see how it goes and then maybe we might consider going to some others…

Me: Really?

Her: Well, our target audience is what we call the “C.H.O.” – the Chief Home Officer. So, whoever is responsible for the home.

Me: …

Her: Yeah, women with kids. But, well, I’m single so I’m the Chief Home Officer at my place, because…

Me: Because you are the only one there.

Her: Yeah.

Me: What about single men then? Aren’t they a target audience for this?

Her:

Chief HOME Officer?? Really??! . But what really ticked me off was the brochure that they handed out, which, citing a University of Wisconsin study4, said, in part:

Did you know that Women [sic] spend an average of 31 hours per week doing housework while men spend 14 hours – a ratio of slightly more than two to one? […]

Even in households where both the husband and the wife work full-time, paying jobs, the wife does 28 hours of housework and the husband 16 – a ratio just shy of two to one.

Said Sampson Lee Blair, associate professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo, ” – (Even) where she has a job and he doesn’t… where you would anticipate a complete reversal, you find the wife doing the majority of the housework.”

With the touch of a button, iRobot can help you even the score. Let our home robots help with the dirty work so you can spend more time doing… anything you want!

(emphasis mine)

That’s right. The solution to this injustice is not to strive for equality, but for women to accept that vacuuming is their responsibility and buy their product.  Notice that no one is telling men that they have to solve the vacuuming issue before they do “anything they want.” They can just go do as they please and the women need to make sure the “dirty work” is done. Not. Impressed.

And speaking of lame things about Roomba, they were giving out these bracelets that open up to reveal they are USB memory sticks:

That, in itself, is not lame (although I would never, ever wear it as a bracelet). What is lame is what is included on the USB memory stick. Specifically, a song.  A song about the Roomba.

No, I’m not kidding. A song about the robot vacuum cleaner.  A friggin’ song about a friggin’ robot vacuum cleaner!  And it’s not even remotely good. Not even listenable, really.  And not even in an amusing way, like this song.  Just an awful, awful, awful Roomba song.

Thankfully, through the magic that is YouTube, now you too can hear the Roomba song!

Fortunately, in addition to the cleaning supplies that make me angry, there was some good swag, including I USB memory sticks from Smilebox and from some military thing. They had crap loaded on their sticks too, but didn’t appear to have any songs that I could mock, so I just deleted the crap and now I have a some free USB sticks.

I also got this thingy from topix that turns a power outlet into three power outlets – a great idea for a blogging conference which, surprisingly, I didn’t see a single person using. Instead, everyone just asked me if they could plug into my power strip that I had brought with me.

There was also this button. It made me laugh.

IMG_3816

And for any of the swag that you didn’t want, Zwaggle, a site that facilitates parents passing along “gently used” kids stuff to other families, has a swag recycling room where you could drop off any swag that you would otherwise chuck into the landfill, and grab stuff that other people left for recycling.  Like if you were just dying for more laundry soap.  They gave out cool t-shirts, so they get my thumbs up and my link love.

Of course, the most amazing piece of swag I got disappeared from my purse before the end of the first night.  But I don’t think I have the strength to talk about it right now, so that will have to be a blog post for another day…

1So many thanks to the lovely women I met who were moms (some mommy bloggers, some bloggers who happened to have kids) who *did* talk to me after I admitted I was currently barren.
2Perhaps you do and I just don’t know about it because I’m not a male. Male readers – what’s been your experience with this?
3And you know how I feel about free stuff.
4In truth, they cited a New York Times article which cited the actual study.

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As you know, I was the BlogHer’08 Official Correspondent for Miss604.com and so I thought you might like to see the stuff I wrote over there:

I have to head to the airport now.  I’ll miss San Fran, but I’m always happy to go home to Vancouver!

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Blogging Conference = Twitter FAIL

Here at the BlogHer’08 opening session, finding some like-minded bloggers to hang out with over Twitter. Just found some and was about to re-locate to their table and I get this message via Snitter:

Twitter is currently down for maintenance. We expect to be back in a couple hours. Thanks for your patience.

Way to go, Twitter.

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BlogHer 2008

It’s the end of the first full day of BlogHer 2008¹ and I am tired. As the official BlogHer2008 Conference Correspondent² for Miss604.com, I’ll be reporting in, not surprisingly, over on Miss604.com. I’ll post links here to my postings there (the first one being here).

On a personal note, I have to say that I’m feeling a bit isolated here as it seems that I’m one of the very, very few women here that doesn’t have kids. I’m not exaggerating when I say that of all the people I met in the last day and a half, only two of them didn’t have kids³. Now, I have nothing against moms (heck, I even have one of my own!), but it really feels like this conference is very, very mom-centric4. And not being a mom myself, I can’t really relate to a lot of what people are talking about, nor a fair number of the products being exhibited. I was kind of expecting BlogHer to be a more geeky kind of thing, sort of a SXSW for chicks, but it doesn’t seem to be that way. I guess I’ve really gotten used to the Vancouver tech scene, where I’m hopelessly behind all the tech savvy peeps, but here is seems like my geekiness is beyond the average geekiness score. Two examples: (a) there are like 10x as many people on Blogspot as there are on WordPress5, and (b) I’ve met numerous people who’ve never even heard of ThinkGeek!

Plus, a lot of people seem to know each other. And again, I guess I’m just really feeling out of sorts with this too, as I feel like I know a fair number of people in the Vancouver tech scene, so I can show up to Third Tuesday or Vancouver Blogger Meetups or whatever and I’ll know people there. Which makes it strange to see all these people who know each other and I don’t really know anyone. It’s not like I have trouble introducing myself to new people, but I’m starting to dread the inevitable “how many kids do you have?” question that comes with every introduction.

Anyway. I did meet some interesting people and I have a pile of cards with URLs to check out6. And the women I was hanging out with at tonight’s party were fun to hang with7and they invited me to join them at breakfast tomorrow, so that’s cool. Now I better go finish up my next posting for Miss604.com – this one will be a summary of all the actual content from the sessions I attended today.

¹Yesterday was the opening parties, but today was the first day of conference sessions.
²I’m *so* adding that to my C.V.!
³Both of whom are here in a work capacity; one as an exhibitor, the other as a marketer.
4Which really made Kris’s recent post about this resonate with me.

5I know I only made the shift to WordPress in January myself, but I did so under extreme peer pressure to go on the better platform where all the cool kids play.
6While I’m personally not interested in reading any Mommy blogs, just because someone is a mom doesn’t mean they are a “Mommy blogger.” I talked to some people today who said they are even offended by the term “Mommy blogger”… essentially saying, “just because I have kids and I am a blogger doesn’t mean I’m a Mommy blogger.” And I’m up for reading well written blogs, regardless of the parental status of the blogger. I’ll be sure to post links to them in the coming days.
7Again, they were all moms, but we did have non-mom things to talk about.

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Heading to the airport!

Gone to BlogHer 08

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Pitch My Blog

As you know, I‘m off to BlogHer tomorrow! Well, the introductory brochure for Blogher suggests that I come prepared with a pitch for my blog1 and, since I’m the Queen of Procrastination, I’m just getting to thinking about this now.

Picture this: someone at BlogHer will ask me, “What’s your blog about?” and I will say… um… I will say… um… Ya, so this is where you guys come in – what the hell am I supposed to say? I’m always stumped when I’m asked this question and usually answer something like this: “Well, it’s a just a personal blog2. I kinda write about whatever comes off the top of my head. I write sometimes about hockey. And weird things that I do. And funny stuff I find on the Internets. And people/places/things that piss me off. So, um, ya.”

See! I need your help! If you were to try to explain to someone what my blog is about, in two sentences or less, what would you say?

1And it specifically says that “I just have a personal blog” is not an acceptable answer.
2See footnote 1.