I am a woman (if the photo wasn’t clear). But I am not a woman blogger.
BlogHer ’08 is going on in San Francisco right now. I know some ladies who are there, and it would’ve been great to be there just to meet a new-and-noteworthy group of people.
But I have to be honest — something about it just doesn’t feel right.
BlogHer is a community for women who blog. Their mission is “to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.” I am totally in support of anyone with the ambition to get themselves heard, involved, and recognized. I have huge aspirations and it’s great that there’s an organization who wants to help me achieve them.
Let the record show that I have nothing against this organization. Please do not send me hate mail.
The thing I’m struggling with is the woman qualifier. Is a woman blogger someone who writes about women’s issues, or simply someone who has a vagina? I think it’s nonsensical to draw attention to a blogger simply due to the latter. Lots of women can write, read, and think. We don’t need to be congratulated.
I can’t help but wonder if this distinction is actually hurting us; it’s a segregation. How would we feel if there were a BlogHim? (Doesn’t sound as good without the double entendre.) But wouldn’t a bunch of women get up in arms about men trying to distinguish themselves from us by holding their own conference? Isn’t being considered among the men a sign of success?
Now before you get all angry and say that I’m a traitor to my own kind, please hear me out. Of course I recognize that there are many fewer women in technology and we need services/organizations/outreach to support and encourage women in the field. Hell, if a very special teacher hadn’t approached me in the 8th grade and strongly suggest that I sign up for the Computer Science class in high school, I might have ended up a lawyer or a math teacher (thank you, Dan Kramarsky).
Instead I was one of two girls in the course, and ended up taking the same course for all four years of high school because it was the only course they offered. My CS teacher encouraged me to continue my path at Carnegie Mellon and put me in touch with his friend, the Assistant Dean of the School of Computer Science (thank you, Charles Rice).
I was one of 30 women in a freshman class of 135. (The graduating class before I got there had more Daves than women — I shit you not.) Boys frequently came by my dorm room to see if I needed help with the homework. Not because I asked them, but because they assumed I needed it. They were wrong.
I ended up dropping computer science after 3 semesters, but not because I couldn’t hack it. With the exception of a dismal showing in Discrete Math (pure torture), I had all As and Bs. But I was tired of spending my weekends in the computer lab hunting for misplaced semicolons. Instead, I wanted to write — English. So I switched.
Still, if I hadn’t gone to Carnegie Mellon, I might never have been introduced to the term “Human-Computer Interaction” or the exploding field of researchers, practitioners and evangelists behind it (thank you Mark Stehlik, thank you Scott Kaufman, thank you Richard Scheines).
Oh, and if I’d never gotten a degree in HCI, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. Thank God for that.
My point is: look at all the men who encouraged me along the way. I can say with absolute certainty and sincerity that not one of them ever told me that they expected I’d be a successful woman _______ someday. They just said I’d be successful. No qualifier.
Because no matter how you slice it, a qualifier is a limit. And there is nothing stopping me from playing with the big boys. No need to call attention to my gender because in my mind it has nothing to do with it.
The other day ReadWriteWeb posted their list of favorite “women bloggers.” These are great women, but they deserve recognition for much more than their chromosomes.
I want to see a list of favorite redheaded bloggers, and I better be on it!
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