No offense at all to Graywolf, who believes it was sexist of BlogHer not to have male speakers at its 2008 conference, but I wouldn’t have gone there to hear him speak. If I’d gone at all, that is.
Let me back the train up a bit.
Until a few weeks ago, I was just your average mommyblogger. You’ve never heard of my mommyblog, and I’m not going to share it with you either. This world and that world exist on separate planes for me.
Had I been able to afford to accept the invitation to BlogHer, I would’ve wanted to hear women speak. Why? Because I would’ve been expecting to hear from other women who were doing what I was doing. Peers, not experts. Whatever expertise a man could have about blogging, he still can’t understand what it is to be a woman who blogs.
Like Michael Gray. From the crash course I’ve had in SEO and linkbait and whatnot over the past few weeks, he’s become one of the people whose advice and authority I respect. (By the way, this whole BlogHer controversy he’s kicked up is quite the linkbait. Nicely done.) But if I wanted to hear him speak, it would be at an SEO conference, not at the BlogHer conference.
I don’t think it’s about being closed-minded to new ideas, it’s about similarity. Sisterhood, if you will, but I think that has a rather campy connotation to it. A man who has all the know-how as far as creating and marketing a successful blog can certainly give an informative, educational presentation about blogging. But he can’t relate to me in the same way as a woman can.
On a very basic level, I think women join the BlogHer network because it’s the one place where they don’t have to face the "there are no girls on the internets" wall. (You know the "old" saying: on the internet, all the men are men, the women are men, and the kids are police officers.)
It’s not to say that the women of BlogHer only associate with the women of the BlogHer network. You can be a BlogHer member and still make your rounds in other internet circles, circles that include some brilliant male speakers. But when you’re in with BlogHer, I’ll be quite frank, you expect to be associating with other women who have been where you are.
It’s all about expectations. If I go to some big political shindig, I expect to hear from members of my own party. Al Gore may have lots of interesting things to say, but people aren’t going to the GOP convention to listen to him. Likewise, Karl Rove isn’t going to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention.
Maybe I’ll get to go to BlogHer next year (Jim?) and Graywolf can prove me wrong by delivering a really amazing presentation when he’s in the spotlight.
P.S. I do hope to hear you speak at some point in the future, GrayWolf!