Posted by: DD | January 7, 2009

WHAT IF THE 12 STEPS TAKES YOU BACKWARDS?

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you are the hostess of a dinner party. You invite couples who are both long and dear friends as well as a new couple, Mr. & Mrs. A.

You know for a fact that Mr. & Mrs. A are both recovering alcoholics, newly so, as they have at least confided that to you along with the fact they weren’t sure if they wanted to come to your party since they don’t want to be party poopers when others realize they don’t drink, and are for now, uncomfortable with others who drink.

Would you provide  alcohol at your party? For the sake of argument, let’s say no, you wouldn’t. So would you then, on the other hand, send out a mass email to everyone, including Mr. & Mrs. A something to this affect?

“Please bring any liquor you have since at last year’s party we were knocking them back so hard, we ran dry!”

How do you think that would make Mr. & Mrs. A feel?

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Here’s why I ask. I’m following BlogHer on Twitter. A recent tweet from BlogHer was this: “Please! Bring babies to BlogHer ’09, I will hold them all!”

I think my stomach actually heaved a bit when I read that. I know that women will bring their children. I also know that even a couple of you who said you might go may even bring your babies.  On the vein of the analogy, if couple Mr. & Mrs. Z called Mr. & Mrs. X and said, “Hey, DD’s not serving alcohol this year. How about we bring a bottle of wine?” That’s between them. But the hostess should do her best to remain as unbiased as possible even though her bestest friends may be booze hounds while her new friends are anything but.

I guess I have unreasonable expectations from the BlogHer execswho really should try to remain neutral considering the increased interest from the infertility community in creating a presence – a force, if you will -within the BlogHer community over recent years.

I have no idea what percentage of the registered blogs on BlogHer.com are IF related, but I’m sure it is small, if not in the single digits, but it’s things like this that make me second guess my desire to go. Why would I want to be around a bunch of women who seem to, as a whole, have no idea how hurtful a comment so banal to 80% of women could be?

Maybe I need to keep in mind that while my own presence there will be as noticeable as a gnat on an elephant’s ass, if I can impress upon one single solitary person how important it is to recognize a fellow peer as a woman, not a “mommy” nor an “infertile”, then all the angst and paranoia I’m feeling that lead up to that moment will be worth it.

Hi. My name is Mrs. A and I’m an alcoholic.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since putting this into draft, I’ve had time to think it over and while my initial reaction was one spurred by over-sensitivity, I still feel a bit chuffed. I know realistically you can’t go about life without offending some one at some time. I should know. Also, if I was to use my own analogy, BlogHer will have a cocktail party, and there most certainly will be bloggers there who are recovering or have an addiction and blog about that as well.

Live and let live, but still…. *sigh*

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Responses

  1. Before I read the rest of the story my initial thought was that having the hostess not provide alcohol but let others know they can bring is was just weird. In the first scenario, I would say you let Mr & Mrs A know that there will be alcohol at the party (whether it is served by hostess or BYOB) and they can choose whether or not they are comfortable enough with their sobriety to attend.

    Bringing IF into, I have to say my reaction is the same. Maybe it is because I didn’t struggle as hard for pregnancy and didn’t dip my toe as far into the world of IF and gave up on it that I feel that way…whatever the reason, that is my thought. I get where you are coming from but respectfully don’t agree.

  2. Well I think it sucks…considering there was an outreach for more IF bloggers and then a babies babies babies tweet…well that’s just ignorant and a tad mean, even if unintentional.

    If Blogher wants more IF bloggers to weigh in and attend then they maybe the execs should read a few and someone should definitely send ’em a link of what NOT to say to someone dealing with IF.

    Grrrrrrr…..

  3. I’ll be blunt. Babies at Blogher is wrong for many reasons. As a mom of a baby, babies take enough time AND MINE IS NOT EVEN HOME YET. So, celebrate them, but ladies, please, remember you are someone other than your children so enjoy some time away from them. If I am paying a lot of money for a conference I don’t want it to be a baby convention, UNLESS that is the intention.

    Yeah, the IF piece also burns me….

    Now I will receed while I get slammed for being a baby hater….

    • See, that’s what I’ve been thinking about as well. Women are so much more than the sum of their uterine output. It’s not as you said, a baby convention, but I’ve heard that’s what it can feel like to someone who has dealt with infertility.

  4. I-yi-yi. i think that tweet was pretty damn insensitive myself. (Unless it was written by an infertile like me, who dealt with IF by stalking babies, in which case, dude, you did NOT want me holding your baby.)

    Then again, I’ve refused to join BlogHer in the past because they refuse to let people have blogs on multiple subjects and not be on other lists.

    Let’s be honest, I don’t have very much in common with some of the current crop of strict mommybloggers. Since I parent after IF and loss, i tend to feel a bit differently about some things. Plus I blog about politics and other health issues. But in BlogHer, I can only be one thing and on one list. No variation.

    That said, they are the only game in town, so I’m going to have to be stuck in some damn category.

    As for going to the convention, unless you have a newborn and have to take your baby, and you then take your mom or a nanny or a sitter, then why in the hell would you bring a baby?

    I love conventions because I get to go out and drink and party and chit chat, and be a grown-up for a few days. Frankly, it’s pretty hard to focus on the speakers much less go out late if you bring a baby or toddler. Don’t get me wrong, if someone wants to, fine, and I’ll subsidize the daycare and hold the door for the stroller, but I.just.don’t.understand.

    Conventions are for partying.

    • Aurelia, you supposedly can put your blog under multiple categories. Actually, you don’t even need to have a blog to attend the conference.

      I’m not going to the convention to make money, to increase traffic, to learn how to set up links, but to meet other bloggers that I’ve “met” on-line. And yes, one huge advantage to this convention is I get to be a grown up woman, not a wife, not a mom, and meet the same. I would also have to admit that even though going to the sessions isn’t a must do for me, I will find myself rather irritated if during a session, a baby/toddler screams the whole time. I’m not paying to listen to “YOUR” kid scream. I can do that for free any time I want.

  5. In the dinner party scenario, I would say that the hostess should serve alcohol if she wants and the guests will deal with it either way. You can’t expect others to either provide booze or not to suit you.

    As for BlogHer, I’m not sure I quite get where you are coming from. Not having seen the Tweet in context, it seems quite innocent to me. I know it’s hurtful to some people to even mention babies, but then again, it could be hurtful for me to mention how my mom drives me crazy when perhaps someone in the room has just lost her mother. As you said, it’s impossible to avoid offending everyone all the time. I stand by your right to be annoyed though!

    And I must agree that babies at BlogHer seems to go against the purpose.

    But let’s discuss it over a martini when we are there, ‘kay?

    • Excellent example, Donna, about complaining about mother to some one who may have just lost theirs.

      Maybe I’m looking for an excuse to be annoyed. Some might even say I’m reaching. I can definitely say it is NOT PMS.

      And you can bet your sweet ass we will discuss it over a martini or four!

  6. In the dinner party scenario, I wouldn’t serve alcohol and I wouldn’t feel the need to mention that fact to anyone beforehand, except maybe the alcoholics to reassure them they won’t have to deal with it.

    I don’t necessarily think it is a great analogy for BlogHer because, from my perspective, it does seem like you are being overly sensitive, but I don’t have the same experiences you do.

    Honestly, when I first read that tweet from BlogHer, I thought the person who wrote was a baby-lover with no baby of her own, possibly due to infertility. I was also immediately judgy of anyone who would bring their baby to a conference of any sort.

  7. You are kidding me! I bitched about something so much and then someday it actually changed?

    Hell must have frozen over.

    Anyway, the joke will likely be on me, if i go. You know why? Because my husband will be so freaked out by me leaving the baby alone with him, even with a nanny, that I will be forced to bring my kid and wear a great big hypocrite sign on my forehead. And be sober and smeared in peas the entire time.

  8. Seriously? Why would someone want to go to a conference where they’d invited everyone to bring babies whether I was infertile or not? I don’t want to listen to someone else’s child if I’ve paid a lot of money to go to said conference. Heck, I don’t want to listen to someone else’s child if I’ve paid $10 to go see a movie 5 miles from home!

    IF aside, it was a stupid Tweet. I think my reaction wouldn’t be from an IF standpoint, but from a consumer’s standpoint.

    And it’s entirely true that we are different people away from our children. Isn’t BlogHer supposed to be a chance for women bloggers to be themselves and meet each other? Not as mommies or infertiles or whatever, but as women. I don’t get it.

  9. Man life it just to complicated! Personally I vote for a weekend away from baby(ies).

  10. First of all, a Blogger conference is aimed at BLOGGERS. I know some people do end up bringing spouses and children. This is fine if you are incorporating into a famiy getaway when not attending the conference itself… BUT

    THE INTENDED audience is BLOGGERS, not the extended family of bloggers!!

    Wow, it feels good to lay down my strong opinion on that.

  11. Looking at the responses reminds my of my other reaction when I read the second part of your post – why would you bring babies? If you are nursing, I get it – but to the sessions? Not so much. I love babies. I have babies. I don’t want to listen to babies (mine or other peoples’) during a conference that I spent hundreds of dollars to attend. I guess my thought is if I can’t get away for the weekend without the kids (or hire a nanny to come with me) I wouldn’t attend. But to each their own.

  12. It’s interesting because this was a topic that came up last year–the alcohol at the parties (not the baby part). Because there isn’t really another option offered–it’s alcohol or you creating your own evening. Do you keep the larger crowd in mind or do you try to be completely inclusive? I don’t have a good answer but I think you asked a good question.

    By the way, I am 98% sure that I’m going this year. We worked out a way to get there this week.

  13. Just wanted to weigh in and first of all truly apologize if the tweet from one of our staff seemed insensitive. You are absolutely right that the IF community has raised its voice within the BlogHer community over the last two years…increasing its presence and raising awareness. Our intention certainly is to be sensitive to our entire community, including the IF community.

    I do think context matters for the tweet, so I’d like to share it. I hope that’s OK.

    Every day we do get questions about who comes to BlogHer…who is “welcome”. For every one of you who can’t wait to get time on your own at the conference there are women who simply have no way to do that. And yesterday a woman wondered if she’d be welcome if she had to bring her child. The tweet was offering a resounding “yes.” [To those of you concerned about the distraction, we’ve been doing this our entire four years, and such moms are respectful enough to know if they need to leave the room with a fussing child. We’ve never had complaints about the policy.]

    By the same token, we often get asked about whether BlogHer welcomes women *without* children (or who choose not to blog about them), and we also respond with a resounding “yes”, pointing out, as an example, that 6 out of 7 programming tracks are about all of the many many non-parenting interests, passions and pursuits women have and are talking about online.

    In trying to be welcoming and warm to all, and publicly no less, I do think it’s inevitable that sometimes we don’t get it exactly right. Not with such a large and diverse community.

    All I can really say, again, is that I’m so sorry if the tweet made your heart sink, that it reminds us to be ever-mindful and vigilant about the power of words, even a 140 character tweet, and that I hope you will join us in Chicago.

    Thanks very much.

  14. So, yeah. I’m planning on coming to BlogHer this year and hanging with you.

    But, there’s a chance that I might have to bring my wee one. Not because it’s ideal or because it will make me happy as hell, but because, frankly, Dave sucks with babies. I couldn’t leave Alex with him for a damn hour before I started getting frantic calls from him.

    While this does make me bitter because come ON, Daver, I’m refusing to let it dictate who and what I can do. I certainly don’t want to upset people, trust me, but I don’t want to stay home either. Because I will be crawling the walls.

    And as for the alcoholic comments, as the daughter of two recovering alcoholics, they learn to avoid these situations if they cause a trigger or ignore them if they don’t. Does that make sense?

    Either way, we’re gonna slurp up martini’s together, sister.

  15. Hell, puppy cams are all the rage now, can I bring my puppy?

    I agree 100% with everything Erin said.

    Small children and babies should not be at adult functions unless the function is mommy and me .

    Much love,

  16. Elisa, thanks for coming by and commenting. I do understand the phenomenon you are talking about because I have helped organize political conventions and there are always people who need to bring their kids, and others who really don’t want to see them. We’ve done the same in the past, told people they are welcome and they have kept the kids quiet when necessary.

    I guess i just think that it’s pretty hard to be there and really participate if you have a baby with you, and having done it, when I could not get a sitter, and could not afford the childcare, honestly, it is very very hard to do. Their routine is off, etc…not fun.

    The best kid-friendly political convention I ever saw had a child care centre that was open from 6 am to midnight. And they had a list of babysitters and nanny agencies and other resources for women to hire if they wanted to leave the kid in the hotel room in the evenings.

    This kind of care meant that women who had no choice but to bring a kid, could actually relax and enjoy themselves.

    Plus it was off to the side, not right in the convention hall so that women who didn’t want to go to a baby parade, never had to see it.

    Anyway, good luck with the balancing act, and I look forward to seeing how this will work.

  17. Aurelia: Wow, 6AM-Midnight! We actually will have subsidized childcare onsite, but probably only from 9-6. You offer a very good reminder though: It is definitely better when the childcare isn’t plopped right in the middle of things…for several good reasons.

    Oh, and I have to tell Juliana: One conference we did have someone bring her chihuahua (who had been ailing) in her tote bag. Needless to say, she was *extremely* popular…during session breaks. 🙂

  18. I had this beef with blogher a long time ago, given what seeemed to be an overly commercial nature and the lack of space for infertiles. I understand that got a bit better last year, but it still seemed to be a bit of a popularity contest, and I was really STUNNED that they couldn’t provide vegetarian and/or kosher food for those who needed it (like Mel) (btw Mel didn’t mind, I minded for her because it pushed a button for me).

    i do think that if you want to help women gain social and economic power, than providing good childcare is part of that at these kind of events, so if they crack that, I’ll be quite supportive.

    I can see they are trying to change, so all luck to them. I look forward to the reports!

  19. Interesting post!
    I have no inclination or chance of going to blogher but I was fascinated to learn about your reaction to the tweets.
    It is good to be reminded that a seemingly innocent comment can be potentially hurtful to others.


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