I have a voice
I went to BlogHer last weekend, and I met some lovely women, including Velma and IlinaP, who I already ‘knew’ from these here interwebs. It was very fun to hang out with Velma, and I’m sorry that I didn’t get to spend more time with Ilina–from her 5 p.m. Fridays posts, I know she’s my kind of gal, as far as the drinking goes. I also met some fab new bloggers, including Anita and Maegan and Melissa. I have a ton of new Twitter followers (waves) and found some new people to follow on Twitter as well, which is awesome because as we all know, I tweet a hell of a lot more than I blog.
There were some amazing things that happened that I’m glad I got to witness, especially the panel of International Activist Bloggers, who are simply kicking ass all over the place. I went to the MomsRising lunch on Saturday, and that was awesome too. I also went to a session that I found really irritating–I’m not going to revisit it here, but if you’re bored, go read my Twitter feed from Saturday afternoon.
But there was something odd about it for me, and it wasn’t until I left on Saturday night that I really figured out what it was.
I have a voice.
I don’t mean that in the “my blog is my voice” kind of way. I mean it in an “I have actual power and privilege in the world” kind of way.
And for all that I think blogging can give voice to people with no voices, I think for the most part, many of those specific conference attendees have voices even without their blogs, too.
I spent a lot of the conference feeling like I was passing for someone other than who I am–and to be fair, because I blog pseudonymously and didn’t introduce myself the way I do in the world, that’s to some degree what I was doing. I didn’t wear a t-shirt that showed my radical politics or cut-off jeans–I dressed like a suburban mom who was in the big city for a weekend.
And the thing I was most disappointed by about BlogHer was that I didn’t feel enough recognition of the privilege that almost all bloggers have, nor did I figure out anything new about how to use my own privilege to help empower other people. Almost all the sessions that I went to were in the “Change Agents” category–meaning they were aimed at people who wanted to do some cause-oriented or empowering blogging–so that seems like kind of a problem to me. To be honest, the most political thing I heard any presenter say in any of the sessions was in a session that Liz Henry did on keeping yourself safe from being hacked, where she compared the threat of danger that is raised around internet security to the threat of danger that is used to keep women from going out alone at night, or otherwise exercising agency in the world. (and can I just say–Liz Henry rocks. Squeeee!)
In some ways, my disappointment reflected the fact that I work in an environment where people talk about the importance of collective action all the time–and I know that is not the case for most people in the US. I think, though, that that means that the conference organizers have a special responsibility to help figure out–while we’re together as a collective–how our collective voices can maximize our impact–there was, for example, nary a mention of net neutrality, which seems like a pretty good target for blogger activism. And instead, what I felt was that the conference did a really good job of maximizing everyone’s individual voice.
I’m not sad I went, I didn’t think it was a waste of time, and I did enjoy the hell out of the things that I enjoyed (plus, free flash drives!). But I don’t think I’ll be heading to San Diego next August.
August 9, 2010. meta.