Friday, August 11, 2006

Ann Althouse on Blogging Heads

Go watch it! She has very interesting views and confirms my suspicians about her view of the whole BlogHer conference,"I am not the type of woman who would seek that type of conference out." Turns out she was set up as the "conservative" (makes me wonder if these people read her blog). So the rest of the conference was a womyn support-fest. Oh, blech. I hate those things. I feel that this demeans rather than "empowers" (the word is so abused as to be meaningless) women. As if the only place a woman enjoys true legitamacy and support is among other women. Ann says, and this has been my experience, that men and women have linked to and supported her blog.

I guess there is a part of me that just resents any special treatment or favors. My sophomore year of high school, the universal (now men's) basketball was ousted in favor of the smaller (now women's) basketball. It irritated me. Why? Because when playing pick-up games with guys, I would be at a disadvantage--not size or speed so much since I wasn't playing against NBA-ers--but the handling and shot mechanics were off. It stunk. When in Chiropractic College, I got used to the guys ball again, because I played with the guys (one other girl played too).

Another thing: I took an aptitude evalutation that measured spacial ability (along with many other traits--I'm left eye dominant, for what it's worth)--a traditionally male advantage. When compared to women, I scored in something like the 90th percentile. When compared to men, I scored in the 60-70th percentile. That is, I might shine like a star among women, but be nearer to average among men. Well, hello! I would be competing as an engineer with mostly men. It matters that I am average, or barely above average, to men. Since there were other areas that I shined, among women and men, I worked toward those areas and use my above average spacial abilities to more easily read MRIs, for example.

So, while aware of gender discrimination and irritated by it when subjected to it, I don't believe a bunch of women holding hands makes any difference at all in the scheme of equality. In fact, the strident nature of some of these group situations make me wonder if they aren't counter-productive. Men look from the outside into this (I'm guessing) and roll their eyes, if they are paying attention at all. I mean, how would I feel about a BlogHim conference? I'd roll my eyes and dismiss it. Doubt that? That was precisely my reaction to the whole Augusta men's only golf club. Do I think they are stupid? I guess, so. In this day and age, I would think that it would start to be an economic problem to exclude some women. Maybe not. Not a golfer. Don't care.

But hey, I'm not the "joiner" type. Fraternaties, sororities, chamber of commerce, any clubby, chummy organization except for specific helpful purposes beyond affiliation (Red Cross, even Kiwanis) seem silly to me. I'm not a social butterfly intent on creating a huge-friendship circle of people who look, think and believe just like me. So there you go. Maybe I'm just not the conference, group type--not just BlogHer.

The blog world is not a group situation. It is an affiliation of thinkers that transcends race, gender, age, etc. in part because of anonymity and distance. Ideas and arguments are judged in the abstract because they aren't associated with a person--although this is changing. You may have your first experiene with Ann Althouse through this blog, for example, and judge her ideas by not just the written word, but her hairstyle, make-up, gender, eye-color, skin color, tone of voice, etc. This may help you enjoy her more or dismiss her ideas. Human I guess, but the utopian in me looks forward to a time when someone is not judged by sight, but by the value of their substance.


ElisaC said...

You might find it interesting to know that Ann is actually on the BlogHer Conference Advisory board, and has been ever since she was invited early this year.

The "Politics" panel wasn't actually about politics itself, but about blogs as political and whether they're effective tools. She wasn't "set-up", rather we attempt to provide diversity of perspective on all panels. Ann didn't merely represent ideological diversity, but much more importantly diversity of perspective in that she doesn't see herself as activist as all, and doesn't *want* to persuade folks politically. So that represents a different POV than many, many political bloggers and was interesting to explore.

Finally, Ann is oft-regarded as conservative in the blogosphere, for a variety of reasons (which we actually discussed on her blog recently.) So, that's not much of a stretch. When Ann requested to be described otherwise in a post describing her session, we immediately respected her request. [BTW: I do read her blog, but, I confess, much more for her photography and TV commentary than her political commentary.]

So, you know, that was good viewing, but there's always more to a story than a 5-minute video excerpt!

Dr. Melissa said...

Thank you for your clarification. When I used the term "set-up", I was quoting Ann. I did not know that she was on the Advisory Board. My impression of the Blogging Heads interview was that she was uncomfortable with her positioning as a "Conservative". I see why others looking from the outside into the conservative arena might view her that way, but I'm not sure that conservatives view her that way.

Again, thank you for your clarification. And, as an aside, I have signed up at BlogHer myself. The link was on a blog I read and I thought, Hey I'm female, why not?

ElisaC said...

Why not indeed! Thanks for signing up. :)

Oh, and yes, she is definitely uncomfortable being positioned as a conservative. I had written a post on BlogHer about the panel and described her as such. She was not described as such in the official panel description, though. When she made her feelings known, I did a strike-thru and changed her descriptor to "moderate."

Ann makes some brilliant points about how conservatives link to her when they agree with her and ignore her otherwise, while liberals ignore her always. Being a staunch liberal I can tell you I often complain about this "eat our own young" mentality on the left. Arianna Huffington brought it up in the closing keynote at BlogHer...she said it had been 10 years since she shifted parties...when were the die-hards going to "forgive" her for her past transgressions?!

I observed it in our gubernatorial primary here in California. We can be very,very self-defeating and it drives me crazy!