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31 July 2007

Biggest shock of Blogher 2007

...was that out of all the gazillion Presidential candidates only two bothered to send any representation.

Elizabeth Edwards (who should be running for something!) gave the closing plenary on Saturday. She was eloquent, sincere, and had a great knack at turning a negative question into a positive one, at least for John.

Hillary Clinton sent a representative, whom I've now seen at 2-3 conferences, who spoke at a few sessions including the one that talked about Hillary and how women voters see her.

NONE of the GOP candidates came out and especially odd was that my own senator, Barak Obama, was no where to be seen. Dude, you live down the street!

So what does this tell me? What should be read from this? That the largest blogger conference happened in Chicago and only two candidates showed. One look at this weekend's YearlyKos speaker list shows at least six Democratic candidates. Considering it's a progressive con, you don't expect the GOP to show up. But Blogher is evenly divided between conservative & liberal. Which we were reminded of many times!

I agree Yikes! Who does value women voters?

blogher07, hillaryclinton, johnedwards, barakobama

29 July 2007

Summary of my Liveblogging Blogher 2007

Here are the links to all my Blogher 2007 liveblogging posts:

Blogher Pre-Party

Not liveblogged, but I wanted to include it this summary post.

Blogher - Friday morning session

Friday - Breakout #1

"Art of Life: Finding and Following Your Passion"

Friday - Breakout #2

"Our Bodies, Our Blogs"

Friday - Breakout #3

"The Art of Writing Reviews"

Friday - Breakout #4

"The State of the Momosphere"

Friday - Breakout #4 (part two)

"Getting it On(line) for a Cause: Part 2 - Raising Consciousness"

Saturday Morning Keynote

Saturday - Breakout #5

"Earn Our Votes: What Questions Do Women Bloggers Want Candidates to Answer in Election 2008? "

Saturday - Breakout #6

"How to write great political coverage: From breaking news to Op-Ed"

Saturday - Breakout #7

"Patriots Act: How to turn Your Blog into a GOtV Machine"

Closing Plenary - Elizabeth Edwards


28 July 2007

Closing Plenary - Elizabeth Edwards

She came to Blogher because she does believe that the blogosphere is the new town square. You don't get to see too many people on the street corner expressing their interest.

She started online with her kids by doing various things like bidding on sports cards with her son. After Ward died, she joined mailing lists that functioned like blogs. Grief ones were like that.

Blogs are an enormous opportunity to meet and discuss issues with people we might never had met. We form natural connections without much thought to gender, race, etc.

Elizabeth just noted that "It's like an addiction. You all don't know about that, right?" Good one.

We just segwayed into discussion about trolls by citing her recent confrontation with Ann Coulter.

She's never had a personal blog/online diary. She admires us for our dedication & focus. She did participate under screen names, but now feels she owes it to everyone to be honest about who she is when online. She does write everything she puts on the Edwards site.

Why is she saying things that aren't coming out of John's mouth? She replies that abortion will be covered under the Edwards health care plan. She also does note that they do differ on marriage equality, but notes that John would never impose his personal views on others.

What does she mean when she says that John is better on women's issues than HRC? She notes that she does townhalls all around the country. She gets the same questions over and over. HRC and her have differences on issues. Those issues include lesbian issues, DOMA (both Edwards want to repeal all of it), health care, true universal health care, and others. HRC needs to be more aggressive on these issues.


Child care: The problem is that we don't have enough slots and we end up without the competition to get enough child care. We need to have care & education from birth to death. She thinks it is helpful to have children in structured environments even just a few hours a week. John's policy will include birth to death education incl head start, etc. Need to invest in early childhood educators. Make it an attractive career path. Loan forgiveness by agreeing to teach for a period of time.

Involvement of young people in the election: Very important. John's been going around the country talking to people, young and old, about poverty. YP feel powerless and we need to find ways to empower them.

Is Iraq a women's issue? Yes. Women are serving in Iraq. Mothers are losing children, fear for their children who are serving in Iraq. If mothers were in charge, there wouldn't be wars. We need to take it personally when someone else's child is serving.

Jennifer Pozner is now asking a question about media, surprise, eh? Media consolidation: John is very clear that he doesn't want Rupurt Murdoch as the media source of the USA. The FCC of this admin is further compounding the problem. He does want to reverse what has happened. This is very bad for democracy. Another reason why net neutrality is so important. She will make sure it is on the website.

What are her top blogs? She reads so many. When she reads them she picks a random blog on her blogroll and continues moving from blog to blog without going back to her blogroll until the next day. She uses Google Alerts.

Elder care: John wants to work on chronic and long-term care. She's dealing with this issue with her father and mother need professional care because they have the finances. We need to increase the number of people who work in elder care just like child care & early education. People need to help navigating the system.

Damn...I really thought I'd get to ask my question, but looks like the mic is moving away from my area of the hall. I hate it when I'm that close, got pointed at, and then get a shrug.

We need to talk about issues from our personal view to get the politics out of politics and start talking policy.

They will be running a 50 state strategy. She thinks that John would square up against Rudy quite well in states like Texas.

Last question is from a woman who stated that she finds it dismissive that the entire conversation is around liberal politics. Also asks how many people review her posts before she can publish. Elizabeth has full editorial control over her blog as well as the comments she leaves on other blogs.

Time has run out.

Elizabeth appears to be very genuine and honest. Each question that seemed to really push her, she answered perfectly and eloquently.

So what would I have asked her?

First I would have thanked her for being such a great role model for women, mothers, and especially working mothers who have to balance work, caring for children/parents, our health, and everything else. My question would had been about how the Edwards administration would work to make work/life balance a reality. That new parents can take paid time off, that sick workers can go to the doctor without fear of losing their job, etc.

Off to the Children's Museum! Where Elizabeth will join us, so maybe I can ask her my question or get a photo with her.


Saturday - Breakout #7

"Patriots Act: How to turn Your Blog into a GOtV Machine"

Put voter registration buttons/links on your blog

get your local media contacts

Get offline and interact with people

Should have an email list of people who can help you with an issue. This will help you find a pattern of who knows who.

Don't let my lack of blogging mean that this session isn't good. Partly I'm finally feeling tired and partly I'm just pretty amazed by the panel. OK...I'm really tired.

A lot of mainstream organizations fear blogging only because they don't see how blogging can turn bodies out into the street (2006 Immigration marches & 2004 March for Women's Lives).

Keep in mind that a lot of the political campaigns are run by young people, mostly men, and often child free, so...they don't have a full range of experiences to impact the campaign. Believe in your experience and communicate it to the campaigns. And bring 10 of your friends to make a larger statement.

All politics are local.

Why aren't there more GOP women bloggers? Are they afraid of being labeled crazy-AnnCoulter-loving-women? A participant expressed a hope that more GOP women will be courageous to come out and blog. Liza Sabater responded that she believes they are out there, but are being ignored by being labeled "mommy bloggers."

Some campaigns have started reading the blogs and trying to find a theme and maybe incorporate them.

"Listening" online - Use your keywords, it helps you see how people are finding you and how they are receiving you.

Power of personal. Don't speak to any party, speak to your beliefs.

We are are the most credible source of information for women. We have a tremendous amount of power, so we better use it.

Widgets: Google calendar, Feedblitz, Upcoming (via Yahoo!)

We are not individual bloggers, we are nodes in a large network.

Don't underestimate the power of MySpace and Facebook.

Get an event tool, mailing list, etc. Don't fret too much about which one, just get one.


Saturday - Breakout #6

"How to write great political coverage: From breaking news to Op-Ed"

We're starting out in break out groups to answer: "Is a political blogger the same as a person who blogs about politics?"

My group came up with a distinction between the two in the a political blogger is someone who is trying to effect a particular outcome, targeting a segment to sway. Then there are those whose blogging about politics is storytelling. We did note that blogging can become political even when we think we're not writing politically. The woman who noted this mentioned that she usually blogs about jazz and then Katrina happened. She had always lamented why jazz doesn't hold a higher status in our society and came to the conclusion that it was a race issue. She did visit NOLA soon after the disaster to help with clean-up.

Two points have bubbled up in the larger conversation:
  1. Use primary sources: don't just depend on the AP, WaPo, etc. to tell the facts; read govt reports & not just the summary; see if you can get a statement from the report writer
  2. Think about what you're not hearing: journalism tends to be episodic, you need to follow up on stories
Our moderator spent the week that GWB went to Africa reading African newspapers. THEN read what the NYTimes, WaPo, etc said about the trip. It was fascinating the distinctions!

Letters to the editor can be powerful and can lead to bigger things (guest speaking, op-eds, political commentary career). Amen! Everyone should be writing letters to the editor. My writing has fallen by the wayside, but I guess it's time to pick them up again!

Pet peeve/pitfalls: Non-disclosure (if you're getting paid by a campaign, you gotta say it), mainstream media pits the extremes on both sides against each other.

FINALLY! Someone disses DailyKos for now being just an arm of the Democratic Party and not the grassroots/netroots community it claims it is. OK...enough on that or I'll start ranting. And no, I'm not going to his ego party this weekend. I promise, that's it.

We need to take advantage of the diversity in the blogosphere in every form it takes to really make a change.

What is political to one community isn't for another. Food/grocery deserts is a political issue that touches on urban planning, racism, on and on... Just a few years ago the A-list political bloggers (mostly men) were claiming that women bloggers weren't blogging about politicals. In reality women were framing their politics differently than those men were (*cough*DailyKos*cough*).

Try to understand the issue from multiple sides not just your side or "the other side."

Don't feel like you need to cover the issue all in one post. Break it down into parts.

Take home points: Know what you're writing, don't do commentary from the hip, it shouldn't be just opinion, use fact/data from credible sources, and stay human.

Citizen Journalism is the buzzword for this entire conference, but esp in the session.

This has been HANDS DOWN the best session and there's only one more to go. The Momosphere one was great, but I got more out of this one for me personally and professionally.


Saturday - Breakout #5

"Earn Our Votes: "

The goal of this session is to come up with 12 questions that Blogherites want answered by candidates, especially Presidential candidates. We are warned that Blogher is a nonpartisan.

A GOP advisor (use to work on the McCain campaign) says that if they can get to close to 50% women voters, they win. The gender gap is huge. Thanks to Ellie Smeal for documenting it in the 1980s. Women care about: Iraq, Health care, jobs, immigration, terrorism, and environment in that order in a recent poll. Women btw 18-49 care about health care more than other age groups and immigration is of more concern for men.

  • Iraq: Younger women (YW) and older women (OW) think it's gotten worse.
  • Immigration: Women think it hurts more than it helps BUT it's not a top issue. 47% hurt vs 41% for men.
    • When women talk about immigration they talk about how their children don't get enough attn in school due to spanish speaking children, longer waits at ERs due to people without health insurance (ummm...the white NYer next to me doesn't have insurance either!)
women polling data from 2006:
  • Women's vote key in VA, MO, MT - determined control of the Senate
  • unmarried women, fastest growing demo in the US, were more likely for Dem candidates in last election
  • women's agenda is broader than men's includes child care, early education & equality for women. The environment - spec energy ind & global warming - also on the agenda
    • have to connect it to health to really get women involved
  • Top concerns among men and women
    • GOP women: Iraq, corruption in govt, social security & retirement
    • Ind women: Health care, economy & jobs, Iraq
    • Dem women: health care, social security & retirement, economy & jobs
NOTE: A TV camera is now in the room and freaking me out. Sorry for major typos!

  • NYTimes data on HC: 45% women favorable, 36% men favorable
    • STRIKING PPT slide that I don't have the time or energy to put in here. They should be posted soon.
  • More than half of single women have a favorable impression of HRC (53%0
    • single men - 43%, married women 39%, married men 32%
  • When polls are done, are they asking if the people are 'informed' of the candidates?
    • Screening questions are usually if they voted, will they vote, not where candidates stand on the war
  • How can women candidates deflect the idea that if they are successful that women voters become jealous for that success?
    • Women need to be empathetic. Be honest about struggling with issues.
    • Overwhelmingly women support women candidates. When women ar eon the ballot, women vote. From EMILY's List
  • How can we deepen the dialog instead of reacting?
    • Stop using crisis because you lose people. Engage, education people.
  • Any post-Katrina data?
    • Nothing too much, but have a feeling that people saw what happened with Katrina and came to a conclusion that the govt isn't working.
  • HRC - Policy vs smear campaign? (posed by Jennifer Pozner, ED, WIMN)
    • GOP pundit says it's a policy problem with GOP women not just cattiness
    • HRC campaign person - The more people get to know her, the more they like her. It's overcoming the GOP smearing. When she won reelection, she won counties that GWB won!
  • How can you explain the diff btw how people view a candidate and what they care about issue-wise?
    • It's a combination. For Arnold Schwarzenegger, his personality helps his issues. For Phil Crane (IL), the more he got out to meet voters, the more his numbers went down!
  • Is the HRC race a do-or-die situation?
    • If she loses, does this doom future women candidates?
    • If she wins, does this mean for more power for women overall?
    • Kim Gandy responds that personally and for NOW, being a woman is NOT the only reason to vote for a candidate. Weight the issues. It's imp for our sons to see women as leaders & consider operating under a woman boss/supervisor.
  • Deborah Siegel, author, asks if there is any generational differences in support for HRC? Boomer women vs women in their 20s?
    • Have to remember that single women are of all age ranges (unmarried, widowed, etc.)
    • No data that splits an age diff
    • There is data that shows education is the deciding factor. Less educated women support HRC higher than educated women
Now we're breaking up into group discussions. I'm sitting in the health care corner, so I think I may stay right where I am.

We need to come up with three questions to ask the candidates! Yikes!

There's a list of issues going around, that I don't have yet. We each get three votes for the numerous issues. There were in addition to the ones on the sheet:
  • allocate fairly?
  • rationing health care?
  • incl long term disabilities
  • mental health parity
  • insurance companies dictating dr's choice of treatment (procedures & medication)
  • how will they lead us in a disc about health care without the politics & religion that usually goes into it? Let's get the science back into healthcare
  • family friendly healthcare
  • where does healthcare fall in their priorities? #1? Behind education?
  • what is their healthcare policy/proposal?
Now here's the feedback:

IRAQ: 1] Money, spending; 2] Leaving Iraq - will you work to leave Iraq by the end of your 1st term, y/n, why?; 3] VA healthcare

ENVIRONMENT: 1] React to the fact that we are coming to a pt of no return, how will your policies protect people from pollution? 2]how will they define their legacy in terms of climate change? 3] Mass transit is the third, but not fully formed.

ECONOMICS: 1] Most sm biz owners are women, will you give self-employed a tax credit to pay for their own self-insurance? 2] Housing issue: How do you prevent predatory lending in the future & how it effects other mortgages; 3] Gap btw rich & poor & women & children are incr at risk: How will you help break the cycle of poverty for women and children? It's not fully formed yet.

HEALTHCARE: 1] rationing care...we just can't afford to give everyone everything that they want, incl end of care. Should it be rationed by lottery? market place? 2] how to ensure that everyone gets health insurance? 3] how do we get birth control covered by all insurance?

Now...how we can take action:
  • Build your coalitions
  • You have two targets: candidates & others who think like you
  • change our culture so that it's ok to talk about politics
Jennifer Pozner has the floor now:
  • Women are about half the bloggers: Don't believe anything different. We do have presence and own that.
  • 1/3 of bloggers consider their blog journalism
  • 56% bloggers spend extra time verifying fact
  • we should all consider ourselves citizen journalists & fact check
    • we don't need a press pass to call up a campaign to ask a question. Blog it!
  • CNN/YouTube debate is a great case study
    • A great question about policy was reframed as an individual question
  • get involved in media reform groups, make relationships with media, use our blogs, support indy media
No time for questions at the end. *pout* But we ended on time!

It should be noted that the only candidates who sent representatives were Clinton & Edwards. ALL candidates were notified of Blogher and the political sessions today.


Saturday Morning Keynote

I got here late, so forgive me!

I walked into the room with NOW President Kim Gandy* and the first thing I heard was something about sex fetishes. GOOD MORNING!

Right now there is a discussion whether or not blogging is elitist. One speaker said it perfectly, it's not elitist in that only upper class discussions occur, but that it is elitist in that there is a digital divide. Now a discussion about literacy itself. I know that some of my blogging friends & I kid about the NSA looking thru our emails and blogs, but one speaker mentioned that in conversations with poor communities could care less, they just want to be online - for job applications, community, and all the fun that we take for granted.

Community is a huge theme, especially within the momosphere. I made a parallel yesterday to someone. That our lives are so crazy that we don't have time to chat over fences with neighbors, so we have created online intimate communities.

Do we need to change technology to suit women or do we change society's view of women? What role do we have to play to make technology the best it can be for women?

Our country has always had an underground press, the internet & blogs have taken that role over. People are aware of the corruption of mainstream media. Althou we have seen that corruption leak into online media.

Women need to be confident in what we know about technology. We don't need to have a Ph.D. in computer science to have technical knowledge. Don't dismiss what you know. I admit to doing this often. I pledge to work on this harder.

I'm a C or B-grade geek thou. I just found out that digg seems to be not listing stories that are being submitted by women. Anyone have any insight on this? Yikes!

Technology is not gender neutral because behind the technology are human beings and we're still sexist/racist/etc.

A great conversation about what the hell we're doing with all this blogging.

* I was lucky in that she was looking for the ballroom when I was walking by. It's not like we planned it. I'm not that cool.


27 July 2007

Friday - Breakout #4 (part two)

Now I'm in the session called "Getting it On(line) for a Cause: Part 2 - Raising Consciousness"

Women care about community and understand what's going on with other people. There is synergy to be used.

Global Health what do we mean by this?
  • safe motherhood
  • UNFPA and the Bush administration refusal to fund it
  • make it clear that when we talk about global health we're talking about women. changing the public debate to include women as members of the world (that one came from Jennifer Pozner of WIMN)
  • need to keep in mind separation of church & state as our politics here in the USA affects the politics of other countries that take their cue from the USA
  • we have to depoliticize this debate (ok...how is safe motherhood political?!?)
  • increasing education for girls (if you get girls to 2nd grade, her families health increases 40%. People, that's only to second grade!!)
  • 34 Million Friends
  • A "both...and" strategy
  • focus on empowering women to take care of their children
  • education for midwives who can then train other women in villages to spread the knowledge to ultimately help safe children, including microloans
  • let's try not to frame this as we are helping "the developing world"
  • when we talk about global health, we have to remember that the USA is a part of the world
We need to start commenting in the open thread about what actions should be taken, do we all do the same thing, do we niche the actions (foodies, media, etc.)?

Friday - Breakout #4

"The State of the Momosphere"

And we're off...This session came from mommy bloggers requesting it. There was a lot of discussion afterwards if mommy bloggers mattered. Well course we do and now we're here!

What does it mean to identify as a mommy blogger? What makes a mommy blogger? What does it mean now that advertisers want to reach us? Do we change? What do mommy bloggers want?


  • Finding a shared story; community; finding others who are going thru the same experience (post-partum, etc.)
  • Support and advice community
  • Started as a journal
  • It's unpolitical in that negative interaction, people playing politics, even thou there are shifting nodes, groups, and communities, a social & normal part of the community
  • Much more like a salon or cocktail party
  • It is very much like high school to people who are being left out
  • Is there active exclusion?
  • Is not being on a blogroll an act of exclusion? What do you do when you need to remove someone?
  • Are we mommy bloggers or bloggers who are mothers? Does it matter? Does it change the level of respect we get from non-parent bloggers? Does it change if you weren't a parent when we started blogging?
  • Is there a momosphere ghetto or a mommy ghetto?
  • Is there power in calling yourself a mommy blogger?
  • Is the audience for mommy bloggers limited to babies & toddlers?
OK...off to another session! If I can get out of the room.


Friday - Breakout #3

"The Art of Writing Reviews"

"What makes a review?" Ooohh...this is gonna be good.

Engadget is middle ground between a 'professional' review and conversation between friends. Eugenia adds in that she bounces between professional review and not. Her site Literago is unique by reviewing book readings. Claire Zulkey talks about writing reviews on sites like Metromix.com where you get practice. You shouldn't just watch a show and write the facts and add in whether you like it or not.

Example: "So You Think You Can Dance" and parallel to other dancing shows, compare to other summer shows, etc.

Tips: Make product reviews as general as possible and talk about how it could fit into someone's life or your life.

Tips on to summarize movies, shows & books: Keep it down to a few sentences, stay away from plot summaries - they are boring, Claire says it is opposite for TV shows - include spoilers,
--> Check out how much a NYTimes reviewer summarizes a movie. They don't much.

Bottomline: Read reviews you like and learn from them.

You'd think there was more of a secret, but I guess there isn't.

Literary Mama.com blogger suggests that you make it personal or political. It gets you away from summarizing.

Always keep in mind your audience.

How to deal with negative reviews: Try not to shy away from negative reviews, be honest - it does a disservice to the company to write a false review, your readers will know it; come at it as "I wanted it to be good, but..."

Citizen reviewers: Good spelling, don't write in all caps, proof read
---> Oy...I'm a very bad reviewer!

Photos very, very imp of reviewing devices (user interface) and historical data (rank against others in its class).


Also, you need feedback. This makes me think that I need to be better about commenting on other reviews I read for the writer's sake. So comment!

A PR person just stood up and said, yes, they are reading our blogs and looking for blogger reviewers.

The blogosphere is built on authenticity thus we usually stay away from advertorial pieces.


Friday - Breakout #2

"Our Bodies, Our Blogs"

Chicagoan Wendy McClure talks about the evolution of her website into a blog into a book and how during the course of writing her book, she gained back the 40 pounds she lost. She only recently decided to talk about it. She's reviewing the push-pull feelings behind the Dove campaign. OOH, she doesn't want to be sold the idea that real beauty is real and that we should buy Dove to promote real beauty. OTOH, she also ridiculed men who were grossed out by the Dove campaign because they want to see skinny models. She doesn't get Love Your Body Day?!? I guess when she says she's cynical, she really is.

Laurie Toby, a photographer, uses her craft to talk about body image by photographing large women in the nude. She's speaking about how raising daughters raised her awareness of body image in our society - this was 25 years ago! She's been the token skinny woman on a panel of fat women discussing fat and feminism. Since then she's been involved in many aspects of body image including non-Caucasian women getting surgery to look more Anglo.

Yvonne Marie posts images of herself online as she goes up and down the weight scale. She got amazing feedback from other women after she posted a photo of her stomach with stretch marks. She so hated her belly, but was moved when other women shared their photos and realized she wasn't the only one.

Oohh...I think I see someone I went to high school with! Of course, we didn't hang out, so I have no idea what her name is. Oh, well.

A blogger in the Q&A talks about how she is "faking it until she makes it" by every day she looks in the mirror and says three good things about herself before she can leave the house. Her life has been much more positive since she started. Hmmm...maybe I need to start doing that. Then again, I'd never leave the house.

Laurie makes a great point that she doesn't want to talk about body image if we don't include men. THIS is exactly what I mean when I tell people that feminism is about men. Feminism gave women the vocabulary and lens to break down body image issues. When the diet & cosmetic industry "discovered" men about 10 years ago, it were feminists who I heard talking about it first & critiquing the tiny box our society gives me to be masculine.

Another blogger asked the panel how we can tsk the media for using 'fat ass' when there are some of us are trying to reclaim the term. Good question.

There are so many blogger friends that I wish were here with me.


Friday - Breakout #1

"Art of Life: Finding and Following Your Passion"

So far most of the audience questions are from women who seem new to blogging and are trying to find their niche/voice. I think I know my niche. Why am I here then? I'm struggling with my online voice, specifically on how to balance RL and BL. After 7 yeas of blogging you'd think I would have figured it out. Problem is that for 6 of those years I could count all my readers on both my hands. Now I have way more readers than I know what to do with.

Part of what I started blogging for is to improve my writing. Not so much the technical parts (spelling/grammar), but the feel of my writing. I need to figure out the next step in all this insanity.

A 72yo blogger is speaking right now. She's so kick ass.

OK...so do you set up your blog as a one show pony or a junk drawer as a punk mama just described her blog? I'm a fan of the junk drawer blog because my mind is not a one track mind. My overarching theme is feminism, but it might be about parenting, TV, shopping, or the elections. If I were to stick to one area I'd suffocate.

Great point about multiple blogs...family safe and your 'real' blog. ha! This is my family safe blog. *snicker*

Question asked: What's the most unexpected thing that has come from blogging?

For me it would have to be all the friendships that have blossomed. And these gigs at Chicago Parent & Chicago Moms Blog. I won't be ashamed at being a mommy blogger. Maybe because I started blogging before I became a mom, but still, being a mom is part of my life.

Great session!


Blogher - Friday morning session

The Bloghers ACT is now being discussed...

In light of the diversity of the bloggers in Blogher, one aspect of the project is to find those key questions that the 2008 candidates need to answer. No matter the answer, we need to know where they stand on various issues.

The burning global issue is health.

Top 4 issues for the voter manifesto:
1. Health care (57%)
2. Global warming
3. Iraq
4. Homelessness

Bloghers ACT spawned a lovechild...Bloghers ACT Canada! The environment wins as their top issue.


Blogher Pre-Party

Last night's Chicago Moms blog party was awesome. Not only is it great to meet people I meet online, but I got a lot of compliments. And honestly, mujeres, it was what I really needed.

One of you said that I make you feel like you write fluff because I go off on political rants and you write about the fun things you do with your kids. Let me say that we need the fluff. The fluff is what I want us to be able to do more of. Flextime, paid leave, real work/life balance is all about being able to do the fluff more.

The other Vero & I connected with more than our names. I usually find it quite odd to be in the same room with another Vero, but I felt uber-comfy with you, thanks.

And gotta give it up to Yahoo! for sponsoring the party and MASSIVE martinis. Goodness, I wish I didn't have to drive last night. Photos to be posted later.


Homelessness...It's a Choice!

No, I didn't just lose my mind, but it's the debate going on over at Chicago Parent. Head on over and chime in my dear 2 readers. I promise I'll still love you if you don't take my side. If you bring me coffee with Splenda & lots of cream.

24 July 2007

Blogher here I come!

BlogHer '07 I'mThis weekend Blogher 2007 hits Navy Pier and the Chicago Parent blog will be well represented. So far, I know that Meredith from A Mom's Life, Kim from Scrambled CAKE and myself will be there. If you're going, please leave a comment so we know to look for you. If you're too shy to leave a comment, here are the breakout sessionsI plan to attend. I do plan on being at each night's cocktail reception, but who knows for how long. I'm not staying at a conference hotel, but commuting from home:

Day One Schedule - Friday, July 27th, 2007

10:45-12:00: Breakout #1

Community: The Life Stages of Online Communities

Backup is Art of Life: Finding and Following Your Passion: A Room of Your Own session

1:30-2:45: Breakout #2

I'm not sold on any in this group right now, but I'm leaning towards - Identity: Our Bodies, Our Blogs

2:45-4:00: Breakout #3

Considering my growing work of reviewing I really do need to attend - Art of Life: The Art of Writing Reviews

4:30-5:45: Breakout #4

Obviously I'll be going to - Identity: The State of the Momosphere, sponsored by Five Moms

Day Two Schedule - Saturday, July 28th, 2007

10:30-11:45: Breakout #5

Considering that a good friend of mine, Jennifer Pozner, will be on the panel for Politics: Earn Our Votes: What Questions Do Women Bloggers Want Candidates to Answer in Election 2008? I have to be at it! Oh yeah, I'm also on the board of Women in Media & News, which Jenn is executive director of. :)
1:30-2:45: Breakout #6

Oh...Amy Sedaris....Art of Life: The Art of Crafts: A Room of Your Own session

But I'll most likely end up at - Politics: How to Write Great Political Coverage: From Breaking News to Op-Ed
And what I'm really looking forward to is seeing Elizabeth Edwards and hearing what she has to say about John.
Sunday is the Open Space or unConference part of the conference. I did pay $21 for my ticket, but I can't attend. So if anyone wants my ticket for the best offer, just leave me a comment.

23 July 2007


Mocha Mom made me do it.

Here I am in 10 secs:

Name: Veronica
Blogs at: Chicago Parent, Chicago Moms Blog, and Viva La Feminista!
Labels: feminist, latina, mother, partner, cubs fan, activist, bookworm, scifi-lover

I'll be at Blogher 2007, so come and find me!


18 July 2007

New Category: Puke Pile

The Puke Pile will be for any media item that makes me want to puke. Pretty simple, eh? And what's the first thing that makes me want to puke on this shiny new blog?

This post on Blogher:
Are you sick of working moms at your office who have flexible schedules and dump the extra workload on their childless co-workers? National talk show looking for outspoken women who are fed up and willing to talk about it.
Nice way to feed the monster. I know it's not up to me, but why can't us women have ONE place where we can NOT fight with each other or have posts like this that make us want to fight with each other?

What about this call:
Are you sick of working 60 hours a week? Have you forgotten what your dog looks like? National talk show looking for women, men, mothers, fathers, anyone who is tired of the way corporate America treats its workers.
Now that's a show I'd pay to see.

17 July 2007

Do we owe it to each other to work outside the home?

The dreaded "Mommy Wars" usually pits working moms against stay at home moms. It took the genius of Sylvia Ann Hewitt and Linda Hirshman to top it off with a dollop of guilt. Hewitt began the baby panic with her 2002 book castigating us career gals with not having babies before we hit our ancient 30s. My all time favorite response was from Tina Fey during SNL's "Weekend Update" where she says, "And Sylvia's right; I definitely should have had a baby when I was 27, living in Chicago over a biker bar, pulling down a cool $12,000 a year. That would have worked out great," while her posse of Rachel, Amy, and Maya had her back. In the latest volley in this massive guilt-trip, Christine B. Larson, laments how she tried to be a good modern mother and work part-time, only to decide that it wasn't worth it.

Linda Hirshman added to this guilt trip that not only are you sacrificing your economic future by staying home (because you don't earn Social Security and most don't invest in a retirement fund), but you are ruining it for women in general. Here's her theory: When elite and highly educated (Ivy Leaguers) quick their awesome jobs at law firms, investment groups, and big business, that in turn teaches the HR departments that women can't be trusted to stay at the firm despite a high salary and all those hours they spend training you. What we get is the pay gap AND discrimination against women in general. Here's one more reason for the class wars to continue.

I was able to meet and hear Linda Hirshman at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in late June. I'm not a fan of hers, but hadn't read her book and wanted to hear what she really believed in person. People can always be misquoted, even in their own writing, so why not hear it from the horse's mouth? Here are my highlights of her presentation/performance (as a former trial lawyer, she does put on quite a show):
  • She's upset that feminists embrace the "whatever floats your boat" philosophy, summed up as 'choice feminism';
    • Her mistake with this idea is dealing with feminism as if we all subscribe to the same doctrine. Yes, there are choice feminists out there, but more to the point I believe there are more feminists out there that do traditionally non-feminist things (Brazilians anyone?) and shrug it off as their choice. Is staying home to care for your child synonymous with getting all your pubic hair ripped out? I don't think so.
  • Choice feminism = any choice by a woman is a feminist act;
    • DING! Wrong. Look at the way that feminists in general vilify both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. Two of the most powerful women in this world and I don't think I could find one feminist who would claim everything these women have done, even in the last 10 years, has been a feminist act.
  • Feminism IS judgmental - Embrace it - Own it;
    • OK, I'll give her this. We are judgmental. Everyone is. That's what philosophy is all about, drawing lines, and tsking at those who go over it.
  • Judgment is tainted by Betty Friedan's mistake to exclude lesbians from the movement;
    • I don't think that judgment itself is tainted as much as we lost so much valuable time dealing with homophobia and then proving ourselves to our lesbian sisters that we could be trusted. Growing pains are never easy, but I'd like to think we are a stronger movement because of it.
  • The term choice was used as a way to not say abortion in the early 1970s, specifically when Catholics for a Free Choice was founded;
    • It might have started that way, but by the time I became active in the mid-1990s, I felt that choice was a way to talk about more than just abortion. Choice was an easy to way to encompass birth control, sterilization, choosing to mother, choosing to give birth, etc. I can't recall a time when I personally was only about abortion. I came to my pro-choice stance via birth control issues and have since evolved to think of myself as a reproductive justice activist.
  • Families are not immune to judgment;
    • Yes and no. Violence in the home...Totally worthy of judgment. Breast feeding vs. formula...Nope. Am I judgmental about SAHMs? Honestly, sometimes. It is mostly due to feeling that pressure to stay at home, so when a few friends had their babies and stayed at home, I felt a little left behind. But I was more upset that staying at home was excused as the best thing to do because "I'm not that smart like you." Um, yes, you are and in so many different ways than I could ever be. I also get upset when I see husbands of SAHMs complain when the house isn't clean. Buddy, you try staying at home with a kid and see how much you get done. I actually admire women who can stay at home with the kids all day. I know I couldn't. I don't have the patience or the creativity to entertain my daughter.
  • Feminism has to show women how to lead;
    • Feminism isn't a church. It's made up of individual people who add to our collective movement. We show each other how to lead, mostly by example. Which is why we really hate it when anti-feminists trash day care while they tour around the country dragging their kids around or leaving them in the care of a nanny. A lot of what I consider feminist leadership is walking the walk.

She constantly put down mommy bloggers for hating her. What she meant was SAHM-mommy bloggers and I called her on it. She apologized. I then went on to ask her how are we supposed to galvanize mommy voters to make change happen in this country if she's alienating them from the feminist movement? She waved a hand and said that they were already lost. It's true that married women vote more conservative than their unmarried sisters, but I'm not about to call them a lost cause. Mostly because I'm a married mother who votes for the Dems, I occasionally vote for the Green party.

It's not that I think that people are dumb, it's that I know what messages are out there in the mainstream media. Feminists are bad evil people, right? They don't care about children, right? They are the reason our society is falling apart, right? I truly believe that my blogging about mothering issues from a feminist perspective just might change the hearts and minds of those who run from the F-word. The Radical Right co-opted the term family values, but does nothing to value families. But her pfting married mothers as lost means she's banking on all the unmarried moms to get out and vote. We can't rely on that because well, if being a married mom makes you a busy woman, imagine how hard it is to be single and getting out to vote. On page 4 of her book, she sets out a 5-point plan (it's always a 5-point plan, isn't it?) on how to "get to work" and #5 is "Get the government you deserve. Stop electing governments that punish women's work." So which is it? Is the solution at home or with government? One thing is clear, she has no faith that business will change.

I truly believe the problem with our country is that we believe in the whole bootstrap theory hook, line, & sinker, even when we KNOW we didn't get where we are today without a little help. So I get what Hirshman is saying when she calls out the so-called best & brightest who hold Ivy League diplomas who quit making policy and start making PB&Js full-time. We do need high powered women at the top of companies, in Congress, and producing TV & film. BUT we need feminist women doing it if anything's going to change. There isn't any guarantee that Ms. Harvard is going to climb the corporate ladder and kick open the door for other women or understand when a parent wants to turn in that report at 8 pm instead of 5 pm so they can attend tee-ball.

The work/life question won't be solved merely by adding women. Neither will the pay equity question. Some might have to be solved on a company by company basis. Some might need more legislation and government enforcement. And yes, I totally agree with Hirshman that men need to step up to the plate (pg 1). I'm happy to report that my partner not only steps up to the plate, but he washes it and puts it back in the proper place.

Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I think that us moms have enough guilt to last 10 lifetimes. This society should be set-up so that parents, mothers and fathers, can make REAL choices about work, life, and child rearing. Want to work? Great! Thanks for adding to the GDP. Here's some affordable and quality child care. Want to stay at home? Great! Thanks for helping raise the next generation of workers. Here's some Social Security credits and mother's allowance. Yes, my dear readers, I do believe that any changes will have to come by framing the issue in terms of economics not what we really should do to prove we care about children.

Instead of pointing the finger at each other all the time, let's gather up our strength and forces and point it at the government for not doing enough, in some cases their job, at inflexible work places, and at the expectation that either we want to work 80 hours a week or not. The men I know who are in their 20s and 30s don't want to work an 80 hour week as much as most women. We're not a lazy or entitled generation. We just want a life outside our cubicles. Is that really too much to ask?

I did end up getting her book. It was only $5 and I got it autographed. It's less than 100 pages, so if you can, do pick it up. It's worth the read. She has a lot of great ideas in there. I think her presentation style is too coarse to lure SAHMs back into the workforce. For that, we'd need child care the way Rosie the Riveter had back in WWII.

13 July 2007

2007 NOW Conference

Reposted from my old blog:

9:30 AM - WOOHOO! I made it!

I'm all registered & now working the reg area. "My name is Roni, how may I help you?"

12 PM - Gov Granholm: She is kickass & beautiful. I'm now uberjealous of MI-ites. I'll trade ya Guvs!

If only she was born in the states. *sigh*

11:45 AM - Chenese Lewis
She's a plus-size model who feels each photo shot is a statement. Once @ a 'Insider' segment her & other plus-size women actors were weighed(!) on camera. The scales were RIGGED to add 30 lbs. She wasn't too fazed but the other actors were devistated. She works a non-NOW affiliated 'Love Your Body' project.

OMG, I love this woman.

11:00 - Sherry Stringfield

Did you know that Sherri AND both her kids (6 & 3) are lifetime members of NOW? She was introduced to NOW when the actor playing her mom on a soap opera took her to a NYC NOW meeting. Sherry also spoke about being a feminist & an actor in Hollywood. Hint: it's not an easy thing for up & coming actors.She assures us that there are many feminists in Hollywood & she needs our help. 1) No more guilty-pleasure reading of People Magazine, etc;2) Express ourselves creatively as feminists. Turn off stupid TV. Go to museums. Support PBS. Write to the networks;3) Write to the stations. The ads are focused TO US! We can make a difference;One more thing...She's a lefty & of course means as a kid she kicked ass on the ball field. A lefty pitcher is quite the assest for any team.Add Sherry to my crush list please.

11:30 AM - Jill Soloway

She's a Hollywood writer & active with Hollywood NOW. She describes a recent table reading with a wannabe* actress who bombed in front of the film powers that be. Jill is too funny! She wouldn't see 'The Departed' because there was only 1 woman in the cast.

The funniest part of her address was when she remarked that, "My sister is a lesbian. LUCKY! I was just a chromosome away!" Everyone lost it.

She also told us all of an action that Hollywood NOW did to remove disgusting billboards for a certain horror flick that opened on Friday. She cried while recounting how hard it was to work on it and then see the billboards back up a few weeks later.

Dear goddess, my crush list is growing by the minute. 'Thank you!'**

* The unnamed woman is on a TV show, but shouldn't be called an actress. Those of you who want to know need to buy me a mocha, martini or garlic mayo cheese fries.

** I'm moblogging & my thumbs hurt, so you'll have to wait for an explanation.

12:00 PM - Dr. E. Faye Williams

A powerful & inspiring speaker. Yes, Dr. we won't go back.

5:00 PM - Angie Cruz

The last plenary started with a dance party. We hammed it up even more because CNN & CSPAN are in the house.Angie Cruz is a writer from NYC. It took a long time before she decided to be a writer due to a lack of any women writer role models much less WOC writers.She also spoke about how hard it was to be a progressive writer after 9/11. She is just finally getting that energy again to make change happen.Yup...I want her to be my BFF. A grrl can't have too many BFFs right?

10:00 PM - DANCE PARTY!!

This is what feminism looks like.

10 AM - Resolutions

Sometimes the best, sometimes not, part of the conference. I'll post a link when the passed resolutions are on the NOW website.Then it's time to head home! And I decided to hitch a ride home with friends. I booked a flight way too late in the day. Yeah for Southwest cancellation rules.

10 July 2007


Welcome new readers and those of you who followed me from my former haunt. My name is Veronica and I will be your host at this blog. What will I do here? Whatever I damn please. But mostly I'll blog about feminism, raising a feminist, and books. I love books! But sadly grad school ruined my ability to read without skimming and thus not fully investing myself into a fiction book. That said, I still love fiction.


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

Veronica's favorite books »
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