Mom, lesbian and feminist bloggers flock to Chicago

It's the year of the mommies at BlogHer 2009. At least, that's what one ChicagoNow contributor had to say.

The annual convention for women bloggers continues through Saturday at the Sheraton Chicago. Chicago Subtext's Amy Guth is a BlogHer veteran and wrote in an email about how the event has changed over the years:

"There's
no denying that of the general population of bloggers, some bloggers
are parents. And there's also no denying that there are a lot, and I
mean a lot, of MommyBloggers out in the world.

Perhaps it was
that I attended BlogHer's People's Party last night, mere minutes after
speaking on a social media heavy panel to a gung-ho geek crowd at
Social Media Club Chicago, but I was totally unprepared to walk into
the ballroom at the People's Party and be handed a swag bag
containing-- almost exclusively!-- baby and child product coupons,
"kid-friendly" applesauce samples, and a logo teddy bear. The bag
itself was, quite literally, the only item not wasted on me, all the
rest not applicable in the least.

I'm not saying biological
function is incompatible with technology, nor do I have anything against sharing a conference with MommyBloggers, but this was tech-absent and
entirely devoted to marketing to the child-rearing crowd. So I'm left wondering if we should just call it what it really is. I
did manage to carve out a mixed group of bloggers with whom to convene
in the lobby bar and talk about iPhone apps, Twitter, technology
conferences, and, well, Mr. T, over wine, and we later observed the
sex-toy party which erupted into the lobby-adjacent, equipping hundreds
of BlogHer attendees with said items. It was far more girls night out
than here to keep our skills steeled and out contacts strong.

But,
though I found a few peeps at the event and found that in itself
valueable, I can't help but think BlogHer is a far different beast than
in geektacular years past and I can't help but wonder the cause of this
shift, whether it's an accurate cross-section of female bloggers
(surely not) or if the New York Times article somehow painted it as a different conference and therefore transitioned it into a different conference.

BlogHer
has always seemed maybe a little more touchey-feeling that I prefer my
social media and technology conferences, but if last night is any
indication, a spin-off conference seems not only in the cards but
essential.

Because last night, though the point of the
conference is the great coming-together of women and blogs and
technology, the vibe instead was a very us and them marginalization,
with four-child strollers being wheeled before bright video lights as
the latest in maternity fashion paraded before our eyes, leaving the
rest of us wondering where we fit in the conference presumably founded
to bring us all together."

Does This City Make Me Look Fat's Jenni Prokopy, who herself is a panelist at BlogHer this year, summed up the conference in three sentences:

"BlogHer
is 1,500ish outspoken, creative women joining forces to share ideas and
strategies for changing the world, one URL at a time. There's lots of
hugging, squealing, whispered conversations, shared confidences and
mutual admiration societies. It might be the friendliest tech
conference in existence - and it definitely has the best swag!"

Alicia Eler,
who manages the arts and LGBT blogs for ChicagoNow, is at BlogHer today
and sent an update from the Queer Blogging Panel via blackberry:

Small group of queer or queer allies, all women. Sharing stories from
this niche community; panelists include a woman who started a lesbian
parenting site to queerlywed.org-a site for and by queers who plan to
wed- to recoveringstraightgirl.com. As the panel began, we all went
around the room and introduced ourselves. Most are here to connect with
others, meet people in IRL who they've been tweeting with for
months--chicagoans @trishtype of the l-bloh had been tweeting with
queerlywed's @stacyjill for months, and are just now meeting--and some
are looking for support, like one woman who has a five-year-old
transgender child who is transitioning.

Answer: most bloggers will say something if
language is out of line. @stacyjill says most imp part is educating
about language, meaning of words queer and dyke, how they have been
reclaimed by the comm.

Several other ChicagoNow bloggers are
attending BlogHer this weekend and we'll post their takes here as we
get them. In the meantime, here's what they've had to say about it so
far:

From Adventures in Babysitting, "Mommy needs a cocktail after Blogher"

From Does This City Make Me Look Fat, "Pondering: How to stay healthy during Blogher 2009?"

From The L-Blog, "Blogher? I barely know her!"

From Frugalista, "Nancy Loo is frugal and other lessons from BlogHer"

From Wee Windy City, "Is BlogHer mostly a networking event for mommy bloggers?"

Sounds like that's a question for Chicago Subtext's Amy Guth.

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