What men can do to support women's rights: RTFM

Originally uploaded by valicali.

Here’s some excellent advice for men who want to support women or feminists, written by Charles Johnson of radgeek:

What you can do to support women’s rights, Part three

This article continues Part I and Part II of What You Can Do to Support Women’s Rights, which dealt with three fundamental points of feminist activism — believing and supporting women, getting involved, and educating yourself — and three ways to bring the public fight home into your private life — refusing to abuse women, calling out other men, and acknowledging feminism.

Therefore, we must respect women’s-only space, avoid co-opting, and be willing to step aside.

I start with Part III because it seems the most relevant to recent discussions of men at BlogHer. (It also seems quite relevant for other forums I’m part of, like the WOMPO women’s poetry email list.) It’s a great starting point. It’s beautiful, clear, I agree with it 100%, and it made me cry. It explains how to be an ally.

I can see that even when I’m trying to be diplomatic, I have a lot to learn, and I have my own feminist rage, which is powerful and useful: but it makes it hard for men to hear the ideas. Even right at this moment I’m sure to a lot of men I sound infuriatingly patronizing. (As if I don’t get patronized constantly by men…. every day… really now! oh, whoops, I’m mad again.) ANYWAY. Since I want men to hear the ideas instead of reacting to me personally, it seems good to link to a man who is a geek and a feminist. I hope that all the very well intentioned, nice, interesting, and amazing Blogher-supporting geek guys like Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, Guy Kawasaki, Marc Canter, and other men who not only came to Blogher, but who followed up, kept thinking about it, and are still talking with women on their blogs, will read it if they have time. I appreciate their participation in trying to answer my criticisms at all.

(I also hope that guys like Hugh Forrest, who was so awesome of an ally at SXSWi — and Chris Heuer, who I admire for his wholehearted efforts to promote awesome conversations, will read this!)

Certainly if one has taken the painstaking effort to separate himself from the psychological and social structures of patriarchy, it is hard to accept being put back into the class of Men and excluded. Many male feminists experience it as a sort of reverse discrimination and feel that that sort of exclusion is just what feminists ought to be fighting against.

However, the exclusion of men by women and the exclusion of women by men are certainly not the same thing in the first place. (from Chris Johnson’s essay)

I did try to acknowledge the difficulty & challenge & complexity of all this. And am trying to do more of that. Without kissing anyone’s ass, backing down, pandering to the patriarchy, giving validation to specific behaviors I don’t like, or having to feel like I’m spending my energy paying attention to and taking care of the feelings of men (which I do plenty of in daily life). Also, I don’t care if you link to this or not, or whatever, am not talking about this for that. Anyway, since I spoke up I wanted to follow through, because I do take this kind of discussion very seriously and do not dismiss anyone’s feelings here although I tend to get mad as a hornet and shoot my mouth off. There are moments when I feel despairing and have that one reaction that is not very useful: “It’s not my responsibility to educate you.” Thus my post title…. RTFM.

I hope that helps and that now I can quit playing den mother and go back to talking about women, their work, and my own experience.

Peace, out.

Writers With Drinks, No and Yes, rambling

Daisy Zamora
Originally uploaded by spanaut.

It was another super crowded night at the Makeout Room! Julia Jackson was a good comedian – I’d love to go see her perform again. Her comments on race, international adoption, and liberals… very good… I was dying at “You ever notice when white people go do some kind of action, they manage to have a vacation at the same time? I’m going to build low-income housing… in Guatemala! ” Extremely funny. There was one joke that made me shriek at a place where no one else laughed, but I can’t remember what it was!

Sage Vivant read from Greta Christina‘s book about how to be a better client if you go to sex workers. I kind of couldn’t figure out if she was reading her own work somewhere in there or if it was all direct from Greta? Confused… Had to restrain myself from squealing (again) at Greta, who was next to me, about how much I loved “Bending” not just for being hot but because it was such good writing & more interesting literature than so much of what’s out there masquerading as being ground-breaking nifty literature.

Then Daisy Zamora got up to read – really the highlight of the evening. She started by quoting Octavio Paz… I will let on if I haven’t already that in high school, I had a giant poster of Octavio Paz on my bedroom wall, because he was my rock star poet. I had some issues with his writing about women, and other things, but…. he’s still a rock star.

“Freedom is not a philosophy, nor is it even an idea. It is a movement of consciousness that leads us, at certain moments, to utter one of two monosyllables, Yes or No. In their brevity, lasting but an instant, like a flash of lightning, the contradictory character of human nature stands revealed. “


“´La libertad no es una filosofía y ni siquiera es una idea: es un movimiento de la conciencia que nos lleva, en ciertos momentos, a pronunciar dos monosílabos: Sí o No.´En su brevedad instantánea, como a la luz del relámpago, se dibuja el signo contradictorio de la naturaleza humana.”

Then she mentioned Walt Whitman and said “rebel a lot, obey a little” – actually why don’t I give y’all that quote too:

To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever
afterward resumes its liberty.

What Zamora was saying is so important, I want to shine my tiny spotlight on it as best I can. To show you why the world needs poets, and people who think like poets and experience the world as poets.

Zamora then blasted the “philosophy of fear” that is so pervasive. She reminded us all to consider, at every moment, that we have a yes or a no, and that at those moments, we need to remember: “99% of what we see in the media is lies to make you fear.

Right on!

NO to this government and NO to this war. (And all such wars and massive instances of evil.)

Then she read “Death Abroad”, “Marina” (Seascape, in English), “To a lady who laments the harshness of my verses” – funny reference – “Streetcar San Francisco” – a poem with the ending at the Amnesia Bar – the poem about the newspaper article about the Salvadorean woman killed on Fillmore St. and the mayor of San Francisco eating wild salmon filet sprinkled with gold dust – and the poem “Cuando las veo pasar” “When I see them passing by” …

Cuando las veo pasar alguna vez me digo: qué sentirán
ellas, las que decidieron ser perfectas conservar a toda costa
sus matrimonios no importa cómo les haya resultado el marido
(parrandero mujeriego jugador pendenciero
gritón violento penqueador lunático raro algo anormal
neurótico temático de plano insoportable
dundeco mortalmente aburrido bruto insensible desaseado
ególatra ambicioso desleal politiquero ladrón traidor mentiroso
violador de las hijas verdugo de los hijos emperador de la casa
tirano en todas partes)

I don’t have the english of this but I could translate it if you like.

I understand on some level why people laughed during this poem, but it doesn’t make me laugh… I started crying as I thought of my own grandmother but really of all the souls (crushed, almost – but the poem gives the hope I want to feel that crushing a soul is impossible) of all the women I could imagine, ever, who have been in that situation. It’s a devastating, devastatingly true poem. It reminds me of Judy Grahn’s amazing, very long poem about mother and female relatives sending the daughter off to be married as they would send a son off to war. Oh! How can Daisy Zamora and Judy Grahn live in the same city and not know each other’s work! It kills me! Why!?

I take a moment to construct my fantasy literary event with Zamora, Grahn, Di Prima, Coleman, major, Gottlieb. (And me. I’m modest that way.) Fierce! Feminist! Ass-kicking all! A small inspiring anthology with some ranting-mad stab you in the heart with truth volcano erupting revolutionary feminist poems, a pocket-poets book for my women poet kin. Anyone who lives in “Tierra de Nadie” in the neverending crossfire. YES to that.

Anyway, this is getting long and a little embarrassing. It’s okay; being embarrassed is good for me.

Charlie had some great humor in the in-between comedy & her introductions but as usual I was laughing too hard to take any notes. All I have is a written-in-the-dark scrawl, “Like a meme wrapped in an onion” from some kind of insane thing about nano meme hors’ d’oeuvres or something. She was running a fever… but the show must go on! (And – she was elegant and glamorous in a long white dress suitable for fevers and fainting.)

Then I sold books for Daisy, because I’m just Ms. Helpy that way. Oh and talked a little bit with George Evans about translation. He co-translates from Vietnamese and I was telling him how much I enjoyed co-translating from Hebrew (which I don’t at all know – so it is a very close collaboration process, which makes it way fun.)

Then Ellen Klages read from her funny “science fiction slush pile” story, Gerard Jones read from Men of Tomorrow about Jerry Siegel and the beginning of fandom, which I enjoyed (though me and Debbie poked each other and winced – especially at the thing about the domineering mother – that was a bit much) and Noria Jablonski read a story about a girl who skipped from 5th grade to college in like… a day? a week? something? But not really because it’s all just sort of a metaphor for the way adolescence and adulthood hit you and you’re still that 5th grader who’s next up for kickball. Beautiful and funny. I snorted with delight at the bit about how the rumor about that one girl (all the boys think she’s hot, like they’re wearing so-and-so-is-hot goggles… she’s not that hot) frenching somone at the roller rink and then I realized it was a reference specific to my generation and suburbanness.

A bunch of people went to the tapas place but I ended up with a big crowd of science fictiony people, too many of us to fit in the tapas place, so we had burritos at somewhere on Mission. I got to hang out a little bit with Ariel and her girlfriend and Ellen Klages and admired Ellen’s interesting book collection & str
ange kitsch, like ceramic “chicken of the sea” tuna baking dishes shaped like fish & a porcelain liquor decanter shaped like Eleanor Roosevelt. You take off her head to pour the liquor. (Eleanor’s not Ellen’s.) It was especially eerie because I’m in a role-playing game right now where we’re playing in an alternate history Earth as the Resistance in Nazi-occupied Britain & there’s also these tentacled things, and we assassinated Hitler, and went down the Maelstrom into the hollow earth, but the point of this “sentence” was that in our game we regularly talk to President Eleanor Roosevelt who is secretly an alien.

That’s enough for now. I feel so calm and centered now that all THAT is out of my system.

The new Tiptree book

tiptree biography reading
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

On private mailing lists, I’m seeing a ton of fascinating discussion of Julie Phillips’ new biography of Alice Sheldon (James R. Tiptree, Jr.). As soon as the book comes out, that discussion will migrate to blogs and public forums! A lot of people are having strong personal reactions, feeling inspired by the book and by Sheldon’s life — as well as admiring how well written and researched the biography is.

I think it’s of general interest, and especially recommend it to all feminists whether you know anything about science fiction or not. And to all science fiction people, whether you identify as feminist or not.

I’m hoping for scholarly editions of Sheldon’s letters in the future!

Julie will be reading from this exciting new book in San Francisco on August 21st, 7pm, at A Different Light on Castro. Here on her site there’s a schedule of her upcoming readings elsewhere in California, Washington, Oregon, and New York.

Literary adventures and commonalities

This weekend I went to a nice reading at Other Change of Hobbit – Mary Anne Mohanraj was reading from her new not-yet-published novel, The Arrangement. Though I haven’t read Bodies in Motion, her book of linked stories, I’ve heard her read from it. What I notice about Mary Anne’s writing is the subtleties of character, established very quickly, so that I expect everyone to be complicated.

We all admired the new paperback of “Bodies”, & Mary Anne talked interestingly about writing, her experiences in the publishing industry in the literary fiction market, and then about the current market for erotica; she says that most successful erotica authors are women. Her erotica series, Wet, is printed on waterproof paper & she demonstrated for us how you can pour a glass of water onto it and it just rolls off. You can read it in the bathtub.

Mary Anne has a huge amount of projects, among them the Speculative Literature Foundation and DesiLit. She’s got a long-running pre-blog-era blog & was a founder for Strange Horizons and Clean Sheets.

I always think it’s interesting how many people we know or knew in common from various scenes. Many people from University of Chicago show up in my core groups of San Francisco people, science fiction, literature, sexuality, & poly – and Mary Anne is just one of the many with those multiple intersections. They are people almost guaranteed to have the most fascinating & eclectic book collections! After Mary Anne’s reading we headed over to Lori, Guy, and Steven’s house – another U. of Chicago connection, with role-playing games definitely in the mix – and I got to wallow around in Lori‘s reference books – the Dictionary of Languages – note our common interest in myth & women pirates & warriors & Inanna & that sort of thing – shelves and shelves of sex and erotica books – Anthologies – comic books – And Steven’s books on war and philosophy. In short, I could happily get lost in their house for months.

It’s nice to be around all these people – they’re inspiring, fun, smart as hell, and I have the feeling of intellectual security that they also know about the broad range of knowledge I have, so don’t see me just as a poet, or geek, or gamer, or history and science fiction buff, or sex radical; they know what it means to be all of those things at once, because that’s what they are too…

aesthetics and hateration

When you hate on a woman for her pointy-toed shoes, skinniness, hairstyle, cheerleaderiness… you are participating in a misogynist system just as if you hated on her for being fat and not shaving her legs. You’re trying to comment on patriarchy, but on the way, you’re doing some woman hating. I’m hearing and reading it all week from 25 year old women on myspace, tech guys, radical feminists, friends, and my own brain.

Fembots and ‘basement cupcakes’ – – – model-thin, dressed wrong, identical – – It’s equally hateration whether it comes out of the mouth of a man or a woman.

Everyone loves hating on the Bejanes. Again, if you’ve been doing this and that was your first reaction, I’m not pointing and yelling “You’re sexist!” We’re all sexist. Look at your gut reaction of hate towards the outfits, chirpy voices, “identicalness”, hair, and shoes of the two women on stage, and think about why that reaction is so violent and powerful. What are you hating? Why did it come out in that kind of language that dehumanizes the two women from Microsoft? Sit with that for a while. Who else is “like that”? I would even challenge you to free associate a list of similarly hateable qualities.

Mixed in with the misogyny there is some fine criticism of Microsoft and of the very idea of the commercial break.

All anyone has to do is describe these women physically (very thin) and maybe say the word “fembot” and “we” think we know what’s being talked about. We hear a type – not a person. We hear qualities of femininity, which of course are understood to be despised. If we’re women talking this hate talk, we’re saying “I am not that.” If we’re men, we’re also delineating, “I am not that.”

This kind of talk is why I play with femininity at all. I am that. And I’m still your sister and I still have a brain. I am not a fembot. Talk to me like I’m a human being. Respect, y’all.

You know how people were making fun of some of us for worrying about “what to wear to BlogHer”? This is why. A good bit of the criticism directed at Microsoft drives home that where they erred is in sending women who wore the wrong thing.

I want people to dig around in their minds for a while and think about why that’s fundamentally messed up. You can be wrong. It’s okay. I think we all have internalized sexism, racism, classism – it is called hegemony. Pointing it out is not divisive – it’s helpful, and gets that stuff out into the open so we can give it a little analysis.

If you are a woman hating on another woman for big hair, makeup, pointy toed high heels, and chirpiness, and being thin, you are hating her for what you perceive as her buying into the system of patriarchal aesthetics. It signifies that she is willing to give a significant amount of her time and energy to men. We think that fembot, consciously or unconsciouly is sucking up to The Man, and getting privilege for it. That perception of privilege (which I’d argue is largely wrong) creates a lot of divisive resentment. That’s why we think we can talk smack about “plastic actresses with boob jobs in Los Angeles” and think that it’s okay to dehumanize them in our thoughts and language. It’s not right to hate a Bejane or an Uncle Tom. Isn’t bejaning yourself presented to us women as a survival skill? Isn’t it the way to be loved? To be non threatening? Then why is it also a ticket to hate? Because – coding yourself with feminine qualities is a way to signify inferiority. So we bitterly hate the ones who can and do code themselves extremely well according to patriarchal standards.

I don’t accept that entire system although I live in it and it is more powerful than I am as an individual. I see no escape from it, and so I play with it. I have the luxury of my sense of self worth, my job, my relationships, not depending on my conforming to feminine requirements.

Oh, and p.s. Yes – I do feel annoyed and uncomfortable at condescending men in hardware stores, whether I’m in a dress or in jeans and work boots. Yes I can go buy a hammer, but I still notice the sexism. The sexism is worse if I’m in a dress and it’s especially worse if I’m in a sexy feminine dress. Because I have a lot of privilege, I can mostly ignore that sexism. Many women don’t have the kind of privilege I enjoy.

NCDD Brainjam notes – afternoon

Chris – our expertise. share it.

Beth – the best way to be a techie is to know people who know more than you.

other guy – we don’t have any 12 year olds in the room


loretta – i have a background in chemistry. i know how to blow thinggs up. so, i know with tech i’m not going to blow anythin up.
west 120th street in manhattan dug up. colleague – librarian told me i don’t have to come in to the library, i could get a “MODEM”. bought a book and couldn’t understand the instructions for getting online.

Beth – what is a blog. how many people konw.. who doesn’t. I try to define it.

vanessa – interactive. more interactive

kai – dont want organization to have static feel.that we are givin you information. instead you have an experience.

beth – i started blogging in 2001 and was clueless for about a year and then people started commenting. i then realized other people had blogs and i could read them and we could folllow each others conversations.

heather – it’s how you set them up. personal websites almost not difference. it’s just a piece of software that makes it like 30 seconds to set up.

loretta – very important shifts taking place. everyone in the world could not create their own web site. now with bloggin you can without spendin money to do it

heather – very personal first blogs were very personal.

loretta – voice has shifted.

beth – way to build a community, to have community conversation. styles of conversation. single author blog. my podium, my diary that I’m sharing. then multiple author blog. that’s what the NCDD blog is.


Blogrolls. More on blog structure. What is a blog. B/c of the blogroll you know we are looking at you.

Question from Avis. Do bloggers have to worry about hackers and spam?

Beth – yes you do and it has to do with what platform you are on. is there a techie in the room? Andy?

a guy – hacking no not really. comment spam, yes… (he explains a bit)

beth – does anyone moderate comments?

guy – some blogs. the one on workflow. because fortune 500 company people come on there and I don’t want them seeing v111aaaagra ads.

beth – so it can be useful to moderate. For me the comments are the most useful part of my blog. I have made so many connections and learned so many things.

Loretta – we are going to have 400 people at the conference.

Beth – i’ll show how easy it is to comment.

[now I am reading my email. and laura is reading our mom’s secret blog and giggling. okay now I’m paying real attention again. sorry, social overload, had to check out.]

Loretta and Beth – explaining more about blogging with demo. Demo of commenting, posting, editing a post. Can fix stuff on the fly. Can go back and add last names. Fix typos. Beth has the cheat sheets for brainjam. cliff notes for every topic. (must change, must not use cliff notes name.) It’s all on the ncdd blog, right here.

magnificent report by Ideaware on decsion making grid.

is there anything you can keep revisions, history of document…

Yes. try wikis, basecamp tools.

Loretta – conversations, starting new posts.

Beth – photos. flickr. incredible photo sharing community. old model was post your photos to the web private and only share them specifically with friends and family. flickrr you share them witih the community of the world. who uses it? (show of hands) khanh?

Khanh – I use it just to look at my friend’s photos. Off his blog.

Beth – more on flickr, demo, tags, comments, surfing, tag clouds.

MJ – clusters. flickr tries to group stuff on similar subjects.

lunch – ncdd brainjam

Lunch – vietnamese food with laura, mj, sarah, khanh, 2 dudes the massage guy and jack paulsen. laura – on Lost fiction blog (corporate) sarah on perplex city. games. me on geneva convention game on the UN site. khanh talks about her news blog plan and translating. i talk with her about blog ad models and syndication. i talk about the f word and how every guy i talked with started up witih that and was expecting something from me – a bit fearful. (minnie was tainted witih it just by having sat next to me.) The f word apparently v. scary. we all laugh. MJ and I talk about dodgeball and swarms and writing.

2nd half of the morning, NCDD BrainJam

2nd exercise –

had name brainjam before knew what it was.
all my life trying to help people connect the dots, help them move forward, omg have you seen this book, do you know this person? I get a big jolt to help peple connect with each other in that way. so, people oudl jam in a one on one situation. how migh that look? j split up rgroup of peopel in 2 halves, segment. inner circle facing out, outer facing in. 12 five minute meetings with each other.

(i know this as a rotating fishbowl. the other fishbowl is a discussion in the inside and the outside peopel have to only listen.)

ask each other what work ignites your true passion?

my conversations:



Vanessa A. Smith


Heather Gold

John Kelly



(to be filled in later from notes)

NCDD Brainjam notes – morning

NCDD BrainJam

chairs in circle
big open room with circle of chairs. around 35 people

Chris – tech n flow intro
kristi – more tech n flow. map.
chris – -schedule plan.
social network. deepen our questions
who considers themselves a technologist?
hand signal for jargon not understanding
tips and tricks.
lunch. world cafe. communities. apply, make real.
raines -video
tags – ncddbrainjam ncdd2006

tree – hearthkeeper
juantia – evocateur – dancer – cafeista
jim – evolutionary moment seeker – facilitator – father
jonathan – curious peace activist wannabe social entrepe
david – passion learning loves his dog
barbara – kids playing collaboration, questions
avis – mom, wife, director
jack b – educator, geeky tool builder, dad
kai? intuitive armbands
ruthanne -vocal moxie searching
beth – flickr tagging
Kristi – gardener blogger nonprofit organizer
min jung – MJ micheif maker blogger opinionator (opinions come from the future and may kill you
rains – cohouser communicator facilitator
dude – healer bodyworker
hal – novelty mediation
andy – ncdd – cat person – cartoonist
vanessa – pssibilities potential naturelover joy creativity connection and intuition
john kelly – aspirational . energizize big picture – meaning – resepct differences
lorettta groove user – appreciative inquiry practitioner – blogger
jay cross – help people learn to learn – happier productive lives – web fanatic – reckless thinker – informal
cliff – liberal windsurfer itdirector
sherry – zen practitioner peace activist – fundraise for nonprofits
justin sammpson – learner programmer – agilist. (handsignal) explains agile programming.
ken – educator teacher interationist holistic literacy – “beyond”

word association tag cloud group exercise.
facilitator/mediator with hal phillips and jim rough. we break the rules!

kai talks about tagging alienationg people. what about reverse tagging?

reverse tagging? I ask about feminism tag

guy says that we want

laura – categories exclude. tagging opens up. clouds expand the meaning associations “feminism” but also “women” or whatever – opens it up.

I like that – it’s a way of thought – to fuzzy things up

folksonomy – taxonomies and library subject cataloguing. you put it on. aggregated. some of your tags might disapper.

jay says we dont want polarizing

guy – could someone give eample. i am a luddite.

mj – if you look at my flickr tag cloud you find my friend glenda.
chris – -gives a certain weight to that tag. if other people use it. del.icio.us, too.
tag up the ncdd home page.

woman in green – this gives you your own way to make google world.

peace activist woman – what is diff btwn set of tags and tag cluster
chris –
mj – cluster is social
kai – artificially… produced
chris – organically prodeuced thru collaborative effort
woman by door – appreciative of tools, what helps us connect race to face?? to be able to et on line and connect – and yet we pass each other on the street and don’t connect n our neborhoods! where does that fit in our whole conversation.

chris -t hat’s why we’re doin this. to get peoplel out from behind our laptops.
guy – that’s the million dollar question

beth – (yell from crowd of blurt!) – menotoring people on internet. software. 300 people. put yourself on map.
liz : is taht Frapper.
beth – yes. me and this other woman discovered we live 2 miles down the road from each other. using the tools and maps there are ways to connect.

raines – i’m shifting from virtual communities to real world communities

chris – virtual/real world
jerry – theory on the table. maybe a bit negative. crisi leads to connections. lazy prosporous self-satisfied. everyone looks at everyohne in crisis. it forces connection. how do we do it without the crisis part?

ken – contexts – invite possibility

chris – wrap up that thouht, we come back to it.

Identity and Obligation panel, BlogHer Day Two

[Liveblog cleaned up a bit, with links. Please correct me if I got something wrong.]

Maria Niles: We want to hear everyone’s input. Intros. Then hear from audience.

Dawn Rouse: I’m Doing the Best I Can, True Wife Confessions, and my Club Mom blog, Gimlet Eye. I am the wife of a black man with a PhD from Detroit. *audience: woo! go black man!* I’m starting my Phd at McGill. We just moved to Canada July 1st. I blog about just about everything in my family. I talk about racial issues, gender issues, my depression, finding my way as a woman, feeling angry sometimes. What I don’t do is I don’t represent black America. My role is to be a white ally. And to testify to the things I have seen as. As the wife of a black man in America. Driving across the border… My husband was stopped. And I photodocumented it. The cop was sure my husband was a Guyanese smuggler. I have to be aware. I have to educate my daughter. I need to find her black women, women of color mentors who can help her understand things that I as a white woman never knew. When I walked with my husband into a restaurant for the first time and everyone looked at us… “Oh.”

Karen Walrond – Chookooloonks. Wow. I started writing it about 2 and a half years ago, when me and my husband were matched with the person who was going to become my daughter’s birth mother. It was to keep family members up to date with the adoption process. Prospective adoptive families have a voracious appetite for information about adoption. So it’s become this big blog. My daughter is now with us and it’s less of an adoption blog and more of a mommyblog now. I then got an opportunity to work in my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. We all packed up and moved south. It’s very text intensive but I also do a lot of photography of our lives on the site. I do talk about the adoption. We are in contact with my daughter’s birth mother but I don’t feel it’s my right to tell her story. She can tell that story if she wants to, or my daughter can, that’s her story. What don’t talk about is, I don’t talk about race. I am in an interracial marriage. I’m Trini, my husband is white and British. So an intercultural marriage too. The photos are there, the stories are there. It’s up to other people to make their own reading. (Karen jokes about her nondescript north-america accent and then bilingually goes into her Trini accent.)

Maria: My name is Maria and I am a caffeine addict. It’s not malt liquor. *audience laughter* I’m here to represent the people who feel that you have no obligation to represent, individually. Collectively, we should support those who do call out and represent! That’s why I support BlogHer. The community is important. But I will point out the fabulous women who represent. I have 2 blogs, I use my real name. I have no picture of myself on there. My sense is my obligation is to the readers to talk about marketing to consumers and that’s it. My other blog, I use a pseudonym. The name is Wag, so it has no gender. I have no pictures. I talk about my dogs, funny stories, cute little chihuahuas. Every once in a while, I talk about race. I am an undercover black woman. I’m a 44 year old black woman. Yes, that is my story. If I told you I was a 44 year old black woman, you would think of Oprah. I am not Oprah. I wouldn’t mind her money… *audience laughter* I don’t want to set those preconceptions. Again, I think it’s incredibly important to respect black women who are out there on the blogophere. Yes both my parents are black. My dad is from the islands. My mom is descended from slaves, we know our family history, it’s a famous story. So I’m not only black, I’m militant black. People think I’m white, so they feel the need to share their feelings about people of color to me and their racist thoughts.

Carmen Van Kerchove. My friend and partner Jen Chao. Blog is Mixed Media Watch.com. The name has become meaningless, we’re going to rename it. It started as a watchdog organization to see how media covers mixed race and interracial marriages and start letter writing campaigns. Now it’s kind of lost the watchdog part. Things have gotten better. Today it’s more about the intersection of race and pop culture. We talk aobut Barbara Walters who keeps reaching out to pet black women’s hair… Angelina Jolie and her baby collecting… anythin and everything to do with race and pop culture. Podcast is called Addicted to Race. Jen and I discussing recent news stories. This is the awesome thing about doing a podcast – you get to connect with people you really admire. Academics, writers, Octavia Butler… We had an interview with her. Jen and I are both women of mixed white and asian parentage. We are very open about that. We don’t necessarily talk a lot about our personal lives. We definitely are very open about who we are. Our racial identity and how people react to us. We used to have a section on the podcast called Racial Spy. Things people say when they don’t know you’re in that ethnic group. No fake stupid celebration of “diversity” … *audience laughter* And be critical but constructive.

Marisa Treviño. I’m a racial spy. From my appearance people don’t know. The latina voice is very underrepresented in the mainstream press. When blogs started I thought, my god, this is my chance to get those stories out into the world. I started my blog, Latina Lista. Lista means smart, ready, intelligent, triple-meanings. I started Latina Lista with stories about Latina women. As the immigration debate has heated up, my boundaries I set for myself had to be broadened. and now a lot of Latinas are reading me and commenting. And I speak from the Latina perspective, from the female perspective. I’m more of a journalist on my site. I’m infusing my opinion into currentt events, but not blogging about my personal life. I don’t post pictures. There are some crazy people out there. With the exception of one person commenting in a negative way, it’s positive on there. Stories don’t get national press. I do talk about race all the time. I do talk about my gender.

Maria: I want to comment on what you just said about negative perpectives, trolls. Particularly with some black women in the blogosphere I know they have backed off blogging because of the incredible negative pressure that comes with blogging. Tiffany Brown has stopped blogging at blackfeminism.org. [Hmmm – I just looked, and there’s a post August 1.] Nubian of Blackademic has said she will stop blogging because of this… Tiffany is raising her hand. When we had the post on Blogher, Lisa Stone talked about difficult . . . [I missed this part]

[Ooooo. I see that Nubian also has linked up to the Black Weblog Awards! Everyone go nominate their faves! – Liz]

Tiffany: When you said you were gonna “call me out” last night I didn’t know you meant putting a mic in my face. *audience laughter* I’m really open, maybe too open. People misconstrue what I am because of what I write. I’m college educated, uipper middle class, etc. Issues in context of larger society. I”m okay with that. People seem to project their own beliefs about who I am or who I should be on to what I write and it’s kind of disturbing at times.

Karen Walrond: I was speaking with [Fizzle] earlier today. It’s been interesting to meet people I know through their blogs. I’m not a very open blogger. There are people far more open about their lives than I am. But what you see in front of you is pretty much what you get. I don’t have a differen
t voice online as I do in real life. But some of the people are very different from what I expected from their writing. One person who’s very out there on her blog. An “in your face person” online. And in person is very soft spoken. And the reverse is also true, reserved people online who are then like, “HI!!!”. *audience laughter* I’m trying to steer away from the word “honest.” How much you use your blog to represent what you don’t in your “real life” persona.

Laurie Toby Edison: I’m still on the first question. I’ve been out about this identity, queer, etc. but now it’s age that makes me uncomfortable. I make a point of saying it. I’m 64. People’s faces just change. They shut down. I’m uncomfortable. Because of the way I operate in the world, I try to be really clear about it, on my blog Body Impolitic. But personally I’m very private. But the blog’s been there for about a year and I’m finding myself talking more personally than I expected.

Maria: I want to also throw back in this question, “Are you obligated?” If you’re a particular race, gender, faith, to represent, so that the other people out there know that there’s not just one face.

Lauren – I’m in college, and my parents read my blog. As a Southern woman, well, ask a Southern woman about her mother and wait 3 hours because that’s how long it will take. My mom doesn’t call me. She’ll read it and call my dad and I’ll get a call from him. I get reallly irritated I have to censor myself for my family. And for people in my hometown and who then construe from there what I’m doin. And as a Christian it’s difficult for me to lead an authentic life and then stay accountable. I’ll get really boring. What I usually do, sitting around eating Sunchips and watching TV with my cat. But I run into situations where I have to be accountable to people. It’s the nature of the beast with my age.

Karen Walrond: I think you really hit on something there. My parents read my blog. I find I’m very careful of, … “Why am I doing this, it’s my blog, it’s my space…” but on the other hand thinking of the people who read and visit me. But about adoption. It’s an incredible emotional rollercoaster. It’s not fun. It’s very draining, soul-searching. Especially in open adotpion. You have this person [the genetic/birth mother] who’s always going to be part of your life.

Maria Niles: Obligation? Marisa?

Marisa: I’m really getting the sense at Blogher there are different kinds of blogs. Sometimes the only way to get a conversation going is to challenge the assumptions people make. I do that every day on my blog.

Carmen: I don’t feel an obligation but I choose to do it. I hate it, pet peeve is hearing parents of mixed-race children saying how their child will be a bridge between cultures. that’s kind of horrendous to put that on your kid. … Feedback from a person who listens to the show. I’m assuming a he. “You guys talk a lot on your podcast about negative stereotypes of asian men. But do either of you actuallyk date asian men?” And we ended up on a big rant. People read a lot into your own family, your relationships, the race of your partner becomes a political thing, people assume it’s where your politics lie. I just wanted to bring up the whole “race of your partner” thing.

Christy Keith . Hi my name’s Christy Keith and I dunno, am I the only lesbian in this room?

SCREAMS from audience: NOOOOOOO!!!!! *wild waving hands*

Christy Keith of doggedblog.com: I got into some painful stuff around the time of the election at DailyKos and other boy blogs, the abstract discussion of marriage as if it’s some kind of abstract trading card. do not talk about my life and my civil rights as if they don’t exist… that drove me off those forums. People don’t understand to have people look you in the eye and say to you to shut up, stop pushing stop talking shut up, stop being so fucking uppity because it… I got so angry. So angry and inarticulate. It upsets me too much. That has been one of the most consistent identity issues for me. People assuming heterosexuality unless informed otherwise drives me insane. People assuming it’s a political abstracton when it’s your heart and life. People assuming… My friend whose lover died of AIDS in Italy b/c they couldn’t marry and he couldnt move back home and get the medical care. There is no way to make this a legal issue. It’s a moral issue. That has been my big identity issue. I come out on my blog every week practically. * general laughter* I also write on a music blog. “We don’t write about dance music.” I asked why? i could not get them to say it but it was because dance music is GAY. I sneak some pet shop boys into it… *audience laughter*

*general applause for Christy*

Dawn Rouse: One of the things I write about is invisibility. When you’re white and middle class you don’t even realize you have this privilege. So i say who i am. I need to say. Every day.

Maria: What community do you get out of representing? How has it changed your world?

Dawn: I wanted other white people to know it wasn’t okay to be sneaky racists with me. I want to make it known I am an ally.

Marisa: By putting “Latina” in the title of my blog, I attract readers who aren’t necessarily Latina or Latino but who believe in the cause of giving a voice…

Carmen: Mixed race black man talking to us… this post went up… a professor at Rutgers came across us, and I teach this course on Africana literature. Maybe he would be interested in signing up for this class. That’s a very small example.

Amanda – I’m a researcher and study blogs and also blog pseudonymously on the side. We don’t have just have one identity, we have multiple identities. The audience makes assumptions, we still have to present ourselves one way, we might present differently to our moms, our bosses, our best friends, to people we don’t know. That’s what we’re all butting up against when we feel we can’t say something and yet it’s important to say it.

[*I cheer loudly for the multiple blog identities!!!* And I’m thinking of a response Iria Puyosa made recently to a post of mine… ]

Karen Walrond: The blog allows us to choose to represent in one way. I sort of disagree with this. When Elisa was writing this up for BlogHer she said I don’t feel an obligation to represent. I represent all the time just by being who I am. I do represent the fact that I’m black even though I don’t write about it. (Story of new york blogger writing to her.) We do represent just by being online. I don’t write about race and my interracial marriage on purpose. If you’re a racist and you’re against “miscegenation” then you’re going to click away anyway.

Tish Grier: I blog at Love, Hope, Sex, and Dreams, Corante, The Constant Observer. I’m extremely militant about being 45 and a short little Italian woman and not wanting to go on Botox. *audience laughter* As I got older I found “myself” represented more and more as a pathetic stereotype. It’s important to bring thse parts out in any way we can. Whether it’s by keeping multiple blogs – because men don’t link to my personal blog. But as I got higher profile I had to stop writing about personal things and my sex life. Because its “unprofessional” and I had to stop being me, to a degree. And it’s interesting not doing that. But the best community are the people who read the personal blog. What they say and how they relate. Especially around weight. It’s important. Pop culture is very limited. Skinny, white, under 34. How many of us in this room is this?

Kety Esquivel: I”m wi
th crossleft.org. I’m a progressive Christian. As a Christian with that identity I have an obligation. It has repercussions throughout the world. It’s the rightist extremists doing significant damage. I’m an activist to reclaim the faith. As a Latina, as a Christian, as a woman. These three identities, if you look at the progressive faith movement, they’re men and theiy’re white and they really don’t want women of color who are young to be involved. It’s a very personal choice whether or not we’re going to represent. Just because we were born… we don’t have to, and yet I think it’s very powerful when we choose to. As a Latina we’re not seeing that many Latina/o voices. At Yearly Kos a lot of white people stepped up to say “Where are you. We want to hear from you” to people of color. That was good.

Woman in back whose name I didn’t hear: We can’t be married to only one identity. That’s what makes wars happen, to say I am only Indian, or I am only Muslim. I write about whatever I want to write about. It’s been an interesting journey… You are you and say “I want to be a business person, etc.” and are interested in being married to that identity but then it’s unhappy. And you find you have to be more than that. So the multiple identities are very important. There are more English speakers in India than there are in the U.S…. What writing does is it makes you honest about yourself. I use my blog to be comfortable with my multiple identities, comfortable with my self. The most interesting travel is in yourself. That journey, using this writing as a tool. You can do whatever you want in there. I like things that are all over the map. You can be just a mother, wife, daughter, they are roles that play. The book is called Identity and Violence, by Amartya Sen, a nobel laureate economomist.

Sarah Dopp: I’m also from New Hampshire… Yeah. You know, I dated the only black man in New Hampshire too. *audience laughter* I’m a web developer and it’s great to just fit in, I’m confident, I’m professional! And then I’ve got a livejournal which is locked up. On there I’m female, I’m bisexual, I have sex. I consider myself overprivileged, I’m flailing around, I’m frustrated, it’s cool to have both. It’s a very guarded identity. My clients don’t see it.

… : I started blogging in 2002. I was active in BBS and usenet groups. I actively hid my race. You could tell my gender from my name. There was one time when I was writing a post, and was about to slip into some black vernacular english. If I say this, everyone’s going to know I’m black. Online, did I want to go that route? And to be authentic, to speak in my own voice, I went down that road. I’m interested in finding out, from the Latinas in the room, do you ever write in Spanglish? Do you write bilingually and interlingually with your other tongue.

*murmur of “yes we do” from audience*

Marisa: I do. I write in Spanglish, or complete posting in Spanish. If I get contributions from Mexico, etc. I do translate, but a lot of U.S. Latinas don’t speak Spanish, they don’t read it.

Melissa Gira: sacredwhore.org, melissagira.org I blog as a sex worker.. and at live journal… My question thinking about these things — who will people think I am if I don’t say? Even if there’s a photo, will people assume I’m white? Queer and bisexual, how much sex do I get to talk about? How much can you talk about it before you become a sex blogger? Genre-ization hurts the relationships between bloggers and readers. What identity am I leading with. How many closets do I have to keep coming out of, all the time?

SJ Alexander: I’m really glad the issues of multiple identities are coming up. I appreciated what Maria said. I intentionally gave my blog a name to warn people there was going to be profanity. My blog is called I, Asshole. I was writing about being a mom and also previous sexual relationships so it’s like I’m this big-ass tramp. I’m a student, I’m a worker, I’m a wife, and let make people make of me what they will. Screw all y’all, you can assume what you want. People started emailing me and saying, “Thank you for being a big ho”. And then thank you for being a super slutty mommyblogger with two different baby daddys. And then other people saying “Hey why don’t you write more about librarianship?” So, keep the emails coming, of who do you think I am. It’s awesome.

[Note: SJ’s writeup of BlogHer, Snakes on a Motherfucking Blogher, is my favorite so far.]

Roo of Roo the Day: Well known study in college, where white students did not identify themselves as white. And I’m a white woman and I don’t think about my race. And if I am do I have a choice about representing and what does it mean – Do you have an obligation to self-identify as white.

Maria: Can you represent being white and not be perceived as a racist?

*General MMMMMMM from room*

Roo: But I have an obligation to represent for/to people who are not part of the power structure. What’s my responsibility as a white woman to the greater world.

[Me, I try to point to, but not represent or speak for. Not always successful in this but it’s a try. – Liz]

Karen Walrond: We all got together to talk about this beforehand online. Blogging Baby… my post on transracial adoption. My family is like the poster family for transracial adoption. Most people think of it as a white couple adopting a non-white child. Mixed-race identity. Commenter who . . . [I missed this]

Maria: [. . .]

Karen: Sister in the U.S. whose daughter looks mixed asian-white, people think she’s the nanny. Her response is, “10 hours of labor says I’m not!

*audience laughter*

Farah ( of Farah’s Sowaleef : I’m a Saudi girl, from Saudi Arabia? People who want me to write about Saudi Arabia all the time! Well I’m a practicing Muslim. And people expect me to be a liberal. And people are like “Wait a minute, aren’t you a liberal? You can’t think that!”

[I think there was more to the panel but I missed it. Plus, my fingers started to hurt! My brain was fried! It was a GREAT panel with a lot of food for thought, and a lot of people speaking up. I thought Maria Niles’ moderation of this panel was exceptional.]