I had researched blogher.org and had decided not to attend, simply because I felt the conference was for women. However, a good friend, Sylvia, pointed out that men were not excluded from the event. I was keen to go as the session topics were all ones I had an interest in. So, I signed up for the Saturday.
OK, we had to sit through a Microsoft plug first thing but things soon improved as the food bloggers gathered at the pool. There were a whole host of reasons for blogging on food, passion for food, restaurant reviews, health/diet reasons, chefs, how to cook, story's of the food, the stories of people behind the food etc. Then all the subsequent sessions were great and informative. My rough notes from each have already been posted.
Christine Heron, today writes a post, 'making room for men at blog her' that sync's in with an issue I have on the female v male categorization. Like Christine, I span both camps, she derives her statistics from, as I have been to both the tech focused, open source etc. events and now my first blogher. But my reflection on this issue spans a much wider time period and crosses other networks I participate in e.g. the environmental movement. Here's my observation: I repeatedly hear from women that the battle is against men. They dominate the corporate world and culture and are at the heart of all it ills. I feel uncomfortable listening to such statements and personally feel I am being attacked. I am passionate to see the corporate world change as the next person, so why should I be classified on mass as part of the problem?
To explain the point a different way, the word 'institutional racism' has gained favor over the last couple of years, a broad brush categorization of an entity. It's not the entity that is racist, institutions are made up of people, individual people express the racism. I don't feel we will evolve change by talking to some mythical entity, we will make progress by talking to individual people. We are at a stage where the female v male agenda is increasingly irrelevant I feel. It is core values that is uniting individuals to participate. United by values, we aggregate our voices for what we believe in.
One final note, the was my first non-unconference I have attended for a while. I did feel a bit constrained but overall I am glad I had participated.