A Reminder That Non-Parents Can Attend Blog Conferences, TooHeather L. Barmore
A few weeks ago I scribbled “write about conference season” in a notebook hoping that at some point I’d find the time and inclination to discuss the nitty gritty of attending blogging conferences. Who to see, what to do, why you shouldn’t care about what you’re wearing, that sort of thing. My intentions of such a post would be to help conference newbies feel less alone. It probably would have ended with some heartfelt remark on how after all of these years of being a conference attendee, speaker, roundtable leader, my anxiety still kicks in .Ultimately the ROI is dependent on what you put into it and you – as the newbie – should go, have fun and you will get something out of it including amazing friends- trite but true.
This is not that post.
This is a post in response to the many other musings in response to the Wall Street Journal’s assumption that “mommybloggers” simply attend blog conferences to get their mini-bar on. It’s not work but a pleasure cruise with wine and cheese and lounging by the pool. It’s one big party sponsored by Lowe’s.
I was in solidarity with my fellow sisters in blogging because I know that these events are a nice mix of business and pleasure but mostly running around a sprawling hotel meeting with brands and companies to discuss business opportunities. Many leave these events ready to sign on the dotted line and are compensated for their time and their worth. Read very carefully: Blogging conferences are work.
I was in solidarity until assumptions stemming from the WSJ piece and about blogging conferences in general was that these opportunities and events are only open to mothers. You have to procreate in order to attend BlogHer.
This photo is of me during the BlogHer conference in 2006. I was 21 years old when that photo was taken. I was not a parent then and in my seven years of being a blog conference attendee, speaker, etc. I have not been a parent. Next week I will be attending the Mom 2.0 Summit in Laguna Niguel, California, I probably will not be a parent by then either.
It happens all of the time: I am a female, therefore I must have a uterus, therefore my uterus must have been used to carry a child or else why would be attending these shindigs? I’ve had people ask whether or not I have children and I say no they walk away. Because I am not a parent at these events I am not worth it. That is what I took umbrage to in the WSJ article, it is what I take offense to in the ensuing discussion and it what I take offense to each and every time I attend a blogging event.
To make matters worse is that these are other women. Other women rolling their eyes at me and casting me aside simply because I have yet to procreate. Other women who feel that I am unworthy to be in their air space at BlogHer – A CONFERENCE FOR ALL WOMEN – simply for my lack of children. How could a childless person be allowed to speak? Why would a childless person attend Mom 2.0? Possibly for the same experiences that mothers seek? Possibly because unless the title specifically says “My child does xyz” or “Talking about breastfeeding” then that session is able to be heard and understood by all PEOPLE. Moms aren’t the only people who care about brand partnerships.
Am I coming off as pissed off? I’m not. Just attempting to be forceful and to put folks on notice. For just as so many of you were offended yesterday when a fellow woman degraded your profession in a national newspaper. I am offended when you, my fellow women, behave as if I should be banned from blog conferences simply for my lack of progeny.
Now that I’ve ranted I hope that we’ve all learned something from this which isn’t about making assumptions and being nice but about how women do things. Women do different things, do different types of work, some of kids, some don’t, and many attend blog conferences for pleasure and business. Whatever. The point is that women are allowed to be places, do things, have fun without condescending remarks and passive-aggressive pieces (I’m looking at you Wall Street Journal.)
So! Next week, I’ll be at Mom 2.0. If you see me, please say hi. And when I tell you that I don’t have children realize that it’s OK. I’m still allowed to be there. I still have things to learn and something to say.
*Photo courtesy of Sue Davis.
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