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Not so processed thoughts from the Girl Power Session at PCB4

“I’m just a girl living in captivity…”. Uh, then walk out of the cage sweetie and live your life, eh?

Let me start out by saying that I am a 24-yr old African American woman. This is very important, so keep this in mind as you read this. I just want to say from the beginning, “Don’t worry. I get it.”

So I wandered outside on the first day of PodCamp Boston with my cohorts @alwills, @sooz and @npeterson and into, basically, the 1950s. Not really. That’s more of an exaggeration. Kinda. Basically, there was a discussion going on on the grass about women in social media. “Where are all the women social justice gurus?” “Why aren’t they speaking at the conference?” Both very good questions, of course. But then the conversation turned to the idea that women cannot break through the glass ceiling imposed by men. This is where they lost me. Well, actually, they lost me when we were informed that white boys are the only class of people who can be openly judged and discriminated against…but whatever.

I really have a problem with the idea that I’m oppressed. Through statistics and stories, a picture was painted of a world where women are held back by men and can’t get ahead at all, a world where men stand on pedestals as the chosen people and women look up at a world that they will never be able to live in. Seriously, I’m playing the world’s smallest pink violin.

I’ll say it again. I have a problem with the idea that I’m oppressed. I don’t comprehend the idea that there are things that I cannot do. That is not an option. I really believe that there were not a lot of women speakers at PodCamp because there wasn’t a lot of communication about the idea that people could do sessions. I’m sure that there are tons of women in social media. I mean, look at mommy bloggers, a movement that I totally respect for a few reasons. One, they are a community, Two, they make time to blog and raise kids. I can’t barely remember to blog and take a shower. So, yeah. But to say that there aren’t a lot of women in social media due to men is bogus.

There was also a statistic going around that while men over-exaggerate their skills, women downplay their skills. Really, who’s fault is that? If you want someone to know that you’re good at something, then why would you lie and say you sucked at it? That doesn’t make any sense. It’s like there are some women that are trapped in their vaginas and can’t look beyond being a woman to being…a person. If I defined myself by my gender, or my race, and then lived my life looking through glasses that only showed things related to those things, then I wouldn’t see much of life.

I made a comment in my PodCamp post that “self-hate isn’t sexy”. Basically, I feel that by considering some aspect of who you are a hindrance to progress, you are committing self-hate, and really, that’s #notagoodlook.

Basically, being a girl rocks. But I’m more than just a girl. Just like I’m more than an African-American. I’m a social media rockstar and I support the entire community. I don’t hold it against male bloggers that they have penises, because really, I have more balls than a lot of guys out here, and I’ve proven it several times over. Now, add that to your statistics.



13 thoughts on “Not so processed thoughts from the Girl Power Session at PCB4

  1. Great post!

    I guess I would add that self-censoring isn’t a particularly good social media strategy either.

    Posted by Al Willis | August 10, 2009, 6:58 pm
  2. I’m in violent agreement with you. Awesome is awesome, regardless of skin color, gender, or any other surface factor. PodCamp Boston was run by women, for goodness’ sake. Chel Wolverton was lead organizer, Whitney Hoffman is Director of Operations for the entire PodCamp Foundation, and these women brought the awesome – not because they were women but because they were awesome and both Chris Brogan and I have the good sense to get out of the way of awesome when we see it.

    The idea that women or blacks or anyone can’t accomplish something today because of a glass ceiling in the digital space is false. Identity is so fragmented that you can’t even trust that the gender or picture on a social profile is even close to accurate – so you’re left with the merits of what the person produces.

    The tools themselves are agnostic as well. MySQL, PHP, Facebook, AJAX, podcasting, blogs – none of these tools ask you what race or gender you are when you pick them up. You can create whatever you want, however you want, and if it’s awesome, then there’s a statistically likely chance that the money/fame/power/whatever will come with it in time.

    I appreciate your candor!

    Posted by Christopher S. Penn | August 11, 2009, 12:55 am
  3. Excellent thoughts. This just goes to show that we are, each of us, truly our own worst critics, potentially our own most dire enemies. If we’d just love ourselves, we could get past feelings of inadequacy and shoot, as @rawrmeans143 is clearly doing, out past naysayers and doomsayers to the front of the pack, to the top of the world, to the vanguard leading humanity forward. 🙂

    Posted by trashstock | August 11, 2009, 1:24 am
  4. “I really believe that there were not a lot of women speakers at PodCamp because there wasn’t a lot of communication about the idea that people could do sessions.”


    Posted by Steve Garfield | August 11, 2009, 1:55 am
  5. I agree with you 100%. I think the idea about the “girl power” session, from my point of view, was to find out what was holding some people back, and help them get over their fear. I know that for me personally, it’s been all about “putting verbs into those sentences” (to unfortunately quote Dr. Phil) and just get things done. I’ve stopped asking for permission, and instead have tried new things, accepting that the worst thing that can happen is someone says no. Once I’m prepared for that, anything is possible.
    I think it got a little off base, but I really wanted it to be about getting over that sense of limitation and instead see the boundless possibilities. But it will take more than one of these discussions to move things forward, that’s for sure.

    Posted by Whitney | August 11, 2009, 3:00 am
  6. I agree with you absolutely.. and I also see where Whitney wrote where she thinks it got a little off-base.. I agree with that 1000x over.

    And thanks what you said about mommybloggers.. although that is not my only gig, nor how I define myself, the fact is that one of my roles IS as a mommyblogger. I’m not ashamed of that. I have addressed that portion of the conversation on my blog.

    Thanks for being honest, a rockstar and for contributing to the forward motion of this community.

    Posted by Liz Polay-Wettengel | August 11, 2009, 3:46 am
  7. I was also at this session & agree – I’m not sure where all the hostility is coming from. I’m 38, white, and a female, and have only come across discrimination once or twice early on in my life/professional career, and I easily stepped over the issue and moved on. I have no limits, never have, and no one around be sees me as having limitations.

    Personally, there is NOTHING holding me back & if I happen to see a woman (or man) that seems to be stumbling, I help. I am a firm believer that you “get what you project”, and if someone sees their world as full of men, or whites, or 26 year olds keeping them down, it’s because they have somehow surrounded themselves with these people (or projected their own issues onto their circle). Honestly it’s their issue, not someone elses. I’m not stupid to think that discrimination doesn’t happen, but it’s up to that person to figure out how they react to the situation. They can bitch about it and become part of the problem or they can go on with their own life and succeed.

    You choose your own future – using your own tools, abilities, circumstances, and dreams. **YOU OWN IT – SO OWN IT**


    Posted by Lynette | August 11, 2009, 9:46 am
  8. Am I being held back because I’m female? No. But is it assumed that I’m a mommyblogger when I come into a room? Yup. Being middle aged and female, the initial assumption is always that I’m a technology user, not a technology creator. Yes, I can overcome that if I’m “awesome.” But you know, the guy who walks in with me doesn’t have to be “awesome” he can just be “OK” and still have it assumed that he can code, geek, etc.

    We can, and do, overcome our socialization. But just like Sonia Sotomayor had to face the critics claiming she was “not the best qualified” (oddly something that wasn’t raised with respect to Roberts, Alito, etc.) women do face a presumption and criticism that men, in general do not have to face.

    Yes, we can win. And yes, being awesome can mean that you can get from poverty to the Supreme Court. But we should acknowledge that being a middle class white male is an advantage, in socialization, in assumptions, in many ways. That doesn’t mean women are victims, or weak. It simply means that we acknowledge the reality of this world. And we have the strength to win anyway.

    Posted by Thalia | August 11, 2009, 3:34 pm


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