"Mad Men" to BlogHer: 40 Years of Women's Rights

by francine Hardaway on July 18, 2008

So I’m sitting here in a large, mostly empty ballroom at BlogHer2008 at the Westin St Francis  with @Geekmommy and @MariaNiles, watching Erin Kotecki Vest participate in an Oovoo video stream with some participants from Netroots Nation, which is taking place in Austin. Technologically, it’s a disaster: the audio sounds like everyone’s in a nightclub at 3 AM on drugs or underwater in a diving suit, and the video freezes and wavers.

But the audacity of trying to live-stream these kinds of communications in real time, with the ability for the audience to respond in real time, is mind-boggling.

An hour ago, we were on NewsgangLive, a panel of callers from all over the world who join each other at 1 PM PST to  discuss technology and news. The technology failed us there as well, since once I had called in and lent my pin code to Laura Fitton  so she could call in, I couldn’t get back in to the call. (This was a message from the gods about my talking too much I am sure). Not to mention the fact that the hotel’s wi-fi was so overloaded that we couldn’t see the stream.

But there we were, ragtag group of early adopters, with two phones streaming to Qik, another stream coming from UStream.tv, and about ten callers through Calliflower.com. We were connecting, in every sense of the word.

There’s no way to describe to the "real" world how real this online camaraderie feels to us. This weekend I have a houseguest staying with me. I met her on Twitter and Newsgang, and I opened my home to her without a second’s hesitation.  And she headed from the other side of the country to stay with me, also without fear.

Online social media tools are huge. At BlogHer2008, mommybloggers are talking about how blogging saved their lives, carried them through and out of their post-partum depressions, restored self-esteem, and gave them some economic power as well. Mommyblogging, which started as a form of personal journaling, has demonstrated the power of women in the economy, and made motherhood a form of acknowledged work. Like out-of-the-home work.

Older women were saying that the entire nature of motherhood has been altered by blogs, because women are no longer "trapped" at home without access to information, fearful and alone with babies they don’t understand yet.

But they are not just blogging about potty training woes. 36,000,000 women are online and blogging. And a great many of them are blogging politically, using their voices to cause social change.

That’s the power of BlogHer so far for me. It’s not anything that is said in any one session; rather it’s the sight of all these empowered, self-expressive women.

"Mad Men," a TV series about the 60s, the era in which I entered the workforce, begins its second season on July 27. Look at the plight of the women in that show, both those who work and those who don’t, and put it alongside BlogHer2008 and you will see what has happened to and for women in the last 40 years.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: