Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hell Yes, Feminism! BlogHer'14 Round-Up

I used to think I wasn't a feminist because I remove all my body hair and like men to take care of my car maintenance. Then Caitlin Moran's comedic and brilliant How to Be a Woman set me straight:

"Put your hand in your pants. a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist."

When I started following feminist bloggers, I realized these women write about issues that I care deeply about-- reproductive rights, global violence against women, rape culture, sexism in the media, and a wide variety of social justice topics beyond the scope of "women's issues." These self-proclaimed feminists use their voices to shed light on inequalities, to tell stories, to make the world better. Hell yes, I'm a feminist.

Before I attended BlogHer'14 during the last weekend of July, I was planning to post The Bloggess: Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism with the simple preface "love, love, love this." I decided to wait until after the conference, since one of the keynotes was The Bloggess herself, Jenny Lawson.

BlogHer'14 was a blogging conference, but it felt as much like a women's empowerment and support network. Welcoming. Inspiring. A celebration of diverse perspectives and personal growth. I'm not one for writing recaps, but I do want to share a round-up of my favorite takeaways:

Inspiration from Keynotes

"Self pity is for suckers." - Shannnon Des Roches Rosa, Squidalicious

Jenny Lawson's traveling red dress is a metaphor, a photography project, and a moving blog post to read.

Tig Notaro turned the lowest point in her life (a break-up, her mother's death, and her own cancer diagnosis) into a Grammy nominated live stand-up comedy routine.

Renegade Mothering's We Don't Start with Needles in our Arms is a powerful perspective on alcoholism. It sucked the breath out of me to hear it read live.

Always #LikeAGirl- A social media keynote speaker mentioned this viral campaign; I don't know how I'd missed it previously

Words of Wisdom from Arianna Huffington (who knew she was so funny?!):
  • "Sleep your way to the top." Literally, get more sleep every night.
  • Stop glamourizing being busy.
  • Giving is essential to being a complete human being.
  • Make personal connections with people you take for granted, like the barista at the coffee shop.
  • "Jimmy Choo only makes uncomfortable shoes made by men who hate women."

I admit this video made me cry. Too many (maybe all?) women resonate with this in some way: I'm enough

The closing keynote was a fantastic panel, "The Intersection of Race, Gender, Feminism":
  • We all have a responsibility to amplify voices. Don't speak for minorities. Listen and share what they have to say.
  • Recognize your privilege.
  • Being an ally or a feminist is a daily practice. What are you doing today?

Amazing Women I Met

Connecting with other bloggers was one of the best parts of the conference. When I told people what I write about, I was surprised how many responded with a story about their genderqueer friend, or their transgender lover, or their gender creative child. I didn't expect to find so much community at the event.

Below is a list of bloggers I admire as both talented writers and beautiful people. I've included links to a couple of my favorite posts, so you can check out why I adore them so much.

Baddest Mother Ever

Dreaming With Your Feet

Finding Ninee

Rachel Leibrock

Workshop Learnings

The break-outs I attended offered lots of useful advice, and there are 3 things I resolve to start doing to improve my blog:

1. Add images.
I understand that adding images would make my blog more visually appealing, but I struggle with the authenticity of adding stock photography to my posts, just for the sake of having a visual pop. So here's a compromise-- I'll commit to taking 10 minutes to search for something relevant for every post that I write. If I find something that resonates, you can enjoy my prettier blog. If I don't, you're stuck with my plain writing.

I hope it's kosher that I pulled the BlogHer conference logo from the website; see how much I still have to learn!

2. Get on Twitter.
Technically the advice was to get on every single social media channel on the planet, but I'm starting with Twitter. I've been feeling for a while that I could use another platform to share out the amazing things I find online but don't have the time or motivation to write about. Tweet me @TransfiniteLove.

3. Work on headlines.
Until I attended a headline-writing workshop, it hadn't occurred to me to expend the effort to write compelling blog post titles. I've gone back and updated a few of my older post titles, and will make this more of a priority going forward.

The last couple of weeks have been full of emotional adventure. My boyfriend suggested that I not blog about the acutely personal sordid details here, but rather give myself some time and distance before publishing. I will probably save these stories for my memoir, which at this rate is looking like a combination of humor, self-help and erotica. If I were to write my blog headlines for the last two weeks, they would be:

50 Shades of Awkward- My Hilariously Epic Fail at BDSM
7 Easy Steps to Overcome Jealousy & Stop Crying All Day**
How Merely Planning to F*ck a Woman Dramatically Improved My Sex Life
**Nope, just kidding. I don't have the expertise to write that yet. I'm a wreck.