When stereotypes are fostered

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I wrote a relatively positive piece on Blogher over at Just Shelley. I guess I’ll use the Bb Gun to write the negative stuff. Or a better way of looking at this: address some of the comments that bring out the bitch in me.

There’s this from a twenty something who since she’s never experienced any problems of gender bias in her life, women can’t possibly have any problems, and should stop ‘whining’ about such:

I don’t know how else to put it, but I say that to encompass my almost zero interest in most women’s issues and female activism and empowerment. Now, I think women deserve to vote and can have careers and can do whatever they want to. However, I hate the male-bashing and whining about it being a male world that so often dominates feminist conversations (but, as a caveat, not all conversations). For example, one of the take away points from the session was to hire women or help other women get hired, etc. Are you kidding me?! Hiring someone because they’re a woman is just as bad as hiring someone because they are a man. There seems to be a little bit of a double standard going on there.

There’s already a double standard. Do you know that all interview techniques at Google, Yahoo, and other major companies are primarily devised by male engineers between the ages of 25 and 45? Now, you tell me: who is going to do better with these techniques? A woman of any age? An older man or woman? Or a male engineer, between the ages of 25 and 45. Most likely from the same socioeconomic background as those who devised such tests?

To assume that because bias isn’t blatant it doesn’t exist makes one naive at best; self-centered at worst. Am I being hard on this young woman? Damn straight. She’ll most likely only get reaffirmation from her own set as to the justice of her views. What I’m suggesting, strongly, is that she develop a bit of empathy. The quality of empathy is understanding that just because you’ve not experienced an event directly, doesn’t mean the event doesn’t happen.

ValleyWag already touched on Dave Winer’s obsessive use of chick when referencing anything women were doing at Blogher. To give Winer credit, he did make a statement about how being a man at Blogher must be how a woman feels at ETech. I noticed he hasn’t said one word on the second day, but to give him the benefit of the doubt, much of this could be because of the blatant marketing of the conference.

Robert Scoble wrote:

Other things I learned from BlogHer?

That the stereotypes about women are true (they talk about things like mothering, cooking, sewing, and soft stuff like feelings, sex, relationships, along with broader things like books and movies far more often than I usually hear among the male dominated groups I usually find myself in after conferences). But, the fact that they are true gives women HUGE economic power and content power that the tech bloggers simply won’t touch.

So that’s what women are good for other than sex, having babies, and taking care of the house. We buy things.

I shouldn’t rise to such bait, but I suppose it would be too much for anyone to contemplate that Blogher attracted primarly women who do want to discuss such issues. That’s more or less how the conference was promoted. Would Scoble be surprised to hear both men and women talking about open source products at OSCON? Or new technology at ETech?

Having said that, there is a part of me that wishes the Blogher folks would not stress so much that they’re representative of ALL women in weblogging–because they aren’t. Theirs is a commercial enterprise which, more and more, is catering to specific types of interest; reflected in the conference, which was geared more toward certain types of topics and discussions. By stressing the company’s all inclusiveness, rather than band us, they’re branding us.

Media companies have to have a focus audience, and Blogher is a media company. Linux Journal, where Doc Searls works, focuses on men with certain interests. That doesn’t mean that Linux Journal will appeal to all men, the same as Blogher’s conference will appeal to all women. To draw inferences from the given sampling to the global all is an example of failed logic.

Now, having said all of that: what’s wrong with the ladies (and gents) of Blogher discussing these things? They’re terrific discussion points, and obviously, for the most part, the people who attended enjoyed the topics. The world is full of infinite variety–including men who liked the discussions just as much as the women. In fact, much of the more positive commentary I’ve heard on Blogher has been from men, and not just about women as marketing target.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email