Can a “hir” talk at BlogHer? We’ll find out!

I'm Geeking Out at BlogHer 08Okay, so I’m not quite so trans-identified as to use the gender-neutral neologism “hir” (as vs. the mutually exclusive dichotemy pronouns “her” or “him”). But it made for a catchy, if slightly confusing post title. And what am I, after all, if not slightly confusing? Also, I was recently reminded of how very different I am, gender-wise, from my beloved, when I overheard her chirp on the phone to a chum: “Hey! Are you overdue for a manicure? Or a pedicure? Because some time just opened up for me and I thought I’d go freshen up my toes.”

For the record — and I apologize in advance for how this might rightly be classified as Grodie Oversharing (as opposed to Lugubrious Oversharing, one of my specialties, or Tasteless Oversharing, which I try studiously to avoid) — for the record, I rarely freshen up my toes. They get special love and attention from me about as often as my head hairs do, which essentially is at such point as I begin to become aware/embarassed about them. Which is a frequency I don’t quite want to share with the reading public, but let’s just say it’s not as frequent as some might like.

Help is on the way, though: a friend recently confessed that she gets what she calls a “butch pedicure” from someone who does not look askance at her when she says No she does not want “color” on her toes, and neither does she want so much as a “shine.” Also, the French-Algerian chap who gives me the smart short haircut I have sported for a well over a decade gets himself a pedicure immediately upon arrival in Paris, on his annual visits to his pops. And he’s even heterosexual, too. I don’t know, though. I’ve still found that a gal such as myself can’t pawn off cultured European masculinity very well. It’s too easily mistaken for Traditional Femininity. Or at least this is what I fear, whenever I try on clogs. For those of you who don’t know the inner angst of a soft butch/gentle-manly gal, this illustrates it as well as anything. A tragic kind of clog-philia/phobia. I know, I know: it could be worse. It also could be less confusing. I refer us to the remark above about my known tendencies toward the slightly confusing.

But hey! How’d we get off on this toe topic? (Mmm, sleep deprivation, mebbe?) The point here is this, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with toes or clogs: I have been handed the somewhat daunting honor of being an invited speaker on a panel at this year’s BlogHer conference. Its title: “Is MommyBlogging Still a Radical Act?” (details here). So far the fellow panelist is that irrepressible Maria, of Immoral Matriarch fame (I’ll post others here as they are announced).

It’s an interesting topic, with a lively history in the immediate community of so-called “mommy bloggers” and the community of women who have attended the past BlogHer conferences at which this topic has been tossed about, evidently like a humungous beach ball at a concert that everyone’s almost more fascinated by than the action on the stage. (Right metaphor? Who knows! I haven’t been to a BlogHer conference yet; only read about ’em! But I like the visual! Blame the sleep deprivation!)

The panel itself is not about people pontificating, but rather chit-chatting with the assembly and goaded on, as needed, by interviewer Lindsay Ferrier, of Suburban Turmoil fame. In lieu of some stiff, over rehearsed Speech, I will try to ponder and then do up a post on the topic to the best of my abilities, from my position as kinda not-mom who kinda isn’t-connected to the “mommyblogging” community, per se. Per se meaning I feel very connected to the lesbian parent blogging community. Which connectedness, perhaps most visibly via my work over at the LesbianFamily.org desk, was much of what inspired BlogHer co-founder Elisa to ask me onto the panel (I have it on good authority: hers). So I’m guessing that my relative cluelessness about the topic, as it has burnt back and forth across various gunpowder lines linking the mommyblogger-o-sphere, may not be altogether a problem.

Still. To fertilize my pondering period, and to properly season whatever it is I do say with your collective wisdom, I am asking you, dear reader(s), what you think about this topic. As a loquatious person, and as a former teacher, I will stretch out the question into a multi-part, essay question series, thus:

  • What in the Sam Hill do you think “mommyblogging” even refers to?
  • Do you read and or identify among these “mommybloggers”?
  • What do you think, if anything, is still “radical” about this community and its online communication? If ever it was radical? And finally,
  • What does the lesbian parent / lesbian “mommy” (I can’t stop with the quotation marks!) community have to contribute to the “radicalism” of mommy blogging?

You may tackle any one of these questions, in sequence, or not, as you feel moved.

I got my own thoughts on the topic, of course, but like a proper facilitator, first I need to let the assembly fulminate. One of the big things I learned from the first annual LD Reader Survey is that an offline survey is a Lurker’s De-lite. (Cue, in your brain, the deathless and legendary dittie by the Sugarhill Gang. Note, in the boogieing crowd, the shirtless white men, putatively heterosexual, dancing with their wrists high, way high, above their waists! My son’s dancerly prowess will not be without precedent, if indeed he does turn out to be heterosexual! Ha HA! Also, look at how thin the line is between disco and rap! You can barely make it out! Here, more Rapper’s Delight fun for the scholarly crowd.)

Woops, where were we? Rapper’s Delight, from Lurker’s De-lite, from — Ah yes! So I’m going to set one of those up offline surveys up for this topic, and post a link to it here and in its own separate post when I do get it going. Meanwhile, for those of you who are happy to chit-chat here in the comments: I’ve gone on enough about my BlogHer panel topic. What do you think about it?

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6 thoughts on “Can a “hir” talk at BlogHer? We’ll find out!”

  1. alls i know is that this part of one sentence stunned me.

    “as it has burnt back and forth across various gunpowder lines linking….”

    that’s all i know about mommyblogging. at least for now. 😉

  2. [From email, initially]

    Halooooo, it’s me, Sheri Bheri

    • “What in the Sam Hill do you think ‘mommyblogging’ even refers to?”

    I’m going with “Moms who blog about being Moms”

    • Do you read and or identify among these “mommybloggers”?

    Have you read truemomconfessions yet? I think that PROVES that we are all in the same boat in some way or another. So yeah, I read and identify with the “mommy condition”. PS DO NOT READ truedadconfessions it will make you sick.

    • What do you think, if anything, is still “radical” about this community and its online communication? If ever it was radical?

    I think it’s pretty radical that we’re sharing all this stuff that used to be swept under the rug. And it’s not just the depression (holy COW there’s a lot of depression out there) and the “not so proud” moments. It’s all the issues pertinent to adoptive moms, lesbian moms (gay dads), handicapped moms and moms who are a different race than their children. And the issues are sometimes similar and sometimes so special / specific as to be heartbreaking.

    It’s pretty radical for some people to try and understand the problems / issues of a:

    – white lesbian Mom of 2 black children, in open adoptions (Peter’s Cross Station)
    – a handicapped Mom of twin boys (A Letter To My Children)

    I’ve learned so much by reading these and other blogs. And I have to say that one of the hugest hurdles I’ve had was accepting that gay men could be good parents. My experience with men has not given me ANY indication that men could / would be nurturing and even 3 years ago, I would have been against (in a very low-key Canadian way) gay men adopting.

    I also think it’s pretty radical that a suburban, Canadian, hetero Mom can have a discussion with an urban, San Franciscan, lesbian Baba about how to BE around the lesbian moms of my daughter’s classmate. Doesn’t that blow your mind? Because IRL I have no one else to ask and with my background I have NO experience to draw on (other than BE NICE).

    I also personally think that if Moms ran the world, it would be a better place. Between “You don’t hurt my babies, I won’t hurt yours” and “We have some extra food, you want some?” VOILA –85% of the problems solved. So this communication between Moms is such a good thing and THIS is how we’re going to change other people’s ideas. RADICAL.

    Oh yeah, and if you could work in your graph on masculine vs feminine, I think you would be doing everyone at BlogHer a service. It’s something that I’ve thought about, and your graph so accurately depicts the continuum of gender identification that it blows me away. I think about that graph and where people I know sit on it, probably once a week.

    • What does the lesbian parent / lesbian “mommy” (I can’t stop with the quotation marks!) community have to contribute to the “radicalism” of mommy blogging?

    I think that just reaching out and sharing your story shows that no matter what the differences between us, we ALL worry about our kids and how we’re doing as a parent.

    I would also bet money that the online lesbian parent community, just by being yourselves and talking about your own issues, will be the tipping factor for changes in public perception of gay marriage and gay parenthood.

    I think that there is a real force for change here and that at conferences like BlogHer, the women should pick some issues that they’d like to publicize and work on. I think you (American women) should really start pestering your government for universal healthcare, and for longer maternity leaves.

    Good luck and have fun. Be your sparkling self and all will go well.

  3. I hesitate to follow Sheri Bheri for my first comment here, since she was so eloquent, but I am going forward anyway. First, what she said.

    Second, I still think a lot of people find the idea that women’s lives are interesting to be a radical idea. It’s kind of like people snarking on Rachael Ray (bear with me here…). Many people criticize her because she is not a chef, which she has never claimed to be. I find it unbearably snobby that people are so sure that a good home cook who talks about getting dinner on the table quickly has nothing worth sharing or listening to.

    Women’s lives, especially their lives as moms, are just like that. People say that isn’t interesting, like there aren’t millions of people living that life every day who might appreciate some company in what is a lonely job. Like the fact that other women might be interested is not relevant, it has to be men, or the whole topic is uninteresting.

    Also, isolation as a tool of repressing women kind of falls apart when women can break out of that isolation without leaving the house.

    Wow, I didn’t know I felt so strongly about this until I started typing. I am sure I could go on, but it’s late and I must get to bed. Fascinating topic, though.

  4. A zillion things Sheri Bheri said were positively inspirational, but I’ll just pick out:

    I also personally think that if Moms ran the world, it would be a better place. Between “You don’t hurt my babies, I won’t hurt yours” and “We have some extra food, you want some?” – VOILA –85% of the problems solved. So this communication between Moms is such a good thing and THIS is how we’re going to change other people’s ideas. RADICAL.

    Mmm hm.

    And sussabmax, I particularly like

    isolation as a tool of repressing women kind of falls apart when women can break out of that isolation without leaving the house.

    I think this is one of the most intriguing aspects of all this. The private sphere made public; unseen labor seen.

    I support your getting to bed (would that I ever did early enough!), but only if you promise to “go on” some more, later. You know, tomorrow, the next day. I’m not impatient.

  5. Hello, LD –

    I’m writing in response to the questions raised in the blogher post, and I apologize for not being able to figure out how to make it happen in the comments section. [ed note: broke before; fixed now] But, I’ve been pondering your post for a few days and feel the need to share my thoughts.

    * What does mommyblogging refer to?
    I believe the phrase refers to blogs in which some significant portion of the writing has to do with parenting. It also seems to have mostly to do with the work done by women parents.

    * Do you read and/or identify among these mommybloggers?
    I read them, and my identification with them is strange in that I don’t have kids and don’t plan to have kids. I am, however, a woman, and there is something about the documentation of women’s experiences and the explicit women’s voices that keeps me coming back for more. Perhaps they give me a window onto the experience I don’t expect to have for myself, and I’m comforted to find kids growing up with loving, present, earnest parents.

    *The question of radicalness:
    This type of blogging is most definitely radical, if for no other reason than that it documents women’s lives. I’m a historian and editor of a historical journal, and let me tell you that documenting the women’s work and lives is no easy task. Aside from all of that we know about the present effect of women’s work as parents and homemakers being relegated to the margins and degraded in our society, having a dearth of written material on that topic as women did it in the past makes it hard for historians to get those “invisible” lives back into the record of critical analysis today. If for no other reason, your work as a blogger creates incredible opportunities for future historians, opportunities for them to do the radical work of studying women’s lives. (With that in mind, a plea: print out your pages and find an archive that will take them. The digital platforms change quickly, but archivists know how to preserve paper.)

    That historical work is closely related to the radicalness of community created by “mommybloggers” today. Women’s wisdom about creating and caring for family has been passed among us throughout the ages, but not without efforts by the patriachy (not men, the system of repressive heirarchy they have installed) to either take that knowledge for themselves or to deem it simply crazy-talk — old wive’s tales, if you will. Having the community of mommybloggers asserts the importance — among themselves if no one else, and clearly, others are paying attention — of the trials and triumphs of raising kids and running families, with partners or alone.

    *Lesfam blogging and radicalness:
    All of the above, taken to the nth degree.

    I also find a wonderful supply of personal comfort in your blog in particular. One reader commented on how often she thought of the gender diagram you drew on a paper napkin for your dad; I, too, think of it often. Negotiating my own gender is a continual battle. I have not discriminated against lovers on the basis of gender for some time, but am now happily married to a man. I dress up in dresses when required and sometimes even like it but prefer to wear carharts and hooded sweatshirts. Like you, the head hairs get most attention when in my way, but they also provide frustration on those occasions when I’m taking on the task of “dressing up” — as in, looking girly. Had I the money, I’d have a whole row of interchangable pants, jackets, and shirts, like men in my institution wear every day.

    Enough about me — the point is that I find your blog radical not only for the parenting but also for the lesbianing, and, in our society, the combination of those things continues to be a radical choice. And you (and the beloved) do it SO WELL. Reading your blog, I am confidant that more of the world will continue to see healthy families like yours, and the recent, embarrassing tidal wave of anti-marriage and anti-family legislation and constitutional amendments will be overturned and the social “norms” of nuclear family images will fade into a one-among-many chorus. I know we’ve got a long way to go to get there, but I am absolutely certain that your blog is helping create the way.

    Have fun at the conference, and thanks for sharing you philosophies, stories, fears, triumphs, and georgeous children with us.

    Eliza

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