Doing It

July 2, 2007

(One very important edit, see below…)

We talk a lot, in the momosphere, about empowerment. About how blogging has, quite literally, changed our lives. About how we’ve found strength and inspiration in other women (and men) who are struggling and cheering their way through the incredible and incredibly challenging experience that is parenthood. About how we’ve found our voices.

When MBT launched its BlogHer Or Bust! contest, the writing prompt that we chose for that challenge was, we felt, in keeping with the spirit of blogging, and of BlogHer more specifically. How does (does?) blogging empower women? we asked. We asked this because we believed that if you’re participating in this community (and especially if you’re participating enthusiastically enough to want to join a gazillion other bloggers in person in Chicago to celebrate blogging) you’d probably have something to say on this topic. And, hooo boy, did you ever. (Find and read – read, read! – the full list of posts HERE.)

You talked about how blogging gives you an outlet for all the rants and raves and reflections that crowd your hearts and minds, even if you never end up putting those rants and raves and reflections on the screen. You talked about how blogging makes you better feminists. You talked about how blogging makes you better humanists. You talked about how blogging kept you sane during some really, really rough times (I gave Miss Robbin a Perfect Post Award for her post about blogging through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, because it made me cry). But you also talked about how you worry, sometimes, that blogging might become, as Moondance put it, “a ghetto of self-expression.” And our own Sandra expressed such concerns most forcefully when she said that “the statement that ‘blogging empowers women’ implies that we are talking about all women. Which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Because that statement cannot even be applied to most of the world’s women.”

If we want to talk empowerment, she said, we should be talking about how we privileged bloggers can help to empower those women who are less privileged. We should be talking about how to make a bigger difference. We should be talking about how we can act.

She’s right.

We remind ourselves of this pretty regularly – remember late last summer, when Gloria Steinem insisted that we remind ourselves? And my own mother (no Gloria Steinem, but awesome in her own right) keeps pestering me to remember that *blogging* in and of itself is not *acting,* regardless of how many Call To Action or Mommy Blogger Love-In round-ups I organize or how many posts about privilege I write. We beat our collective chest and we write and write and write, but where’s the action? Real action, not just the action of putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard (which is not to be discounted – who can deny that the Just Posts, with all of their heart and soul, make a difference? – but still.) Shouldn’t we be acting?

Well, BlogHer is acting, as most of you probably already know, through the fantabulous initiative that is BlogHers Act, which is encouraging women bloggers to come up with global and US-based plans for action on causes to be decided upon at the conference. And, now, MBT is teaming up with them to spearhead a Canadian version of this initiative.

That’s right. We’re getting in on the action, Canuck-style.

Our immediate goal is two-fold: to come up with a list of causes that women bloggers (not just mom-bloggers) from around Canada want to get behind, and then to narrow down that list to at least one cause (maybe more? can we do it?) that we will act upon directly over the coming year. The long-term plan? To bring Canadian women bloggers together to take real action. To effect real change.

Check out MBT’s Mama Karma page for full details, and have your say. What action do you want to take? How do you want to change the little corner of the world that is Canada? Go, speak your cause in the comments at Mama Karma, or write a post and leave a link. You know the drill.

And the rest of you? What do you think? There’s no disputing that action is good, but does our own empowerment – does empowerment in general – require that we put feet to pavement and placards in hands and that we march and protest and lobby and fight? Can virtual action (see, for example, what a lot of love and a little auction can do to help save the lives of little boys) be as powerful as real action?

We do better holding hands.

*(cross-posted with some amendments at MBT)

**EDITED TO ADD: Some of you might not know WhyMommy of Toddler Planet, but you totally should. Because she’s one of the nicest ladies around, and, now, because she needs all the love and support she can get. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and she’s blogging through it with grace and aplomb, but she could still use a virtual hug or two. Also – BIG ALSO – she’s giving away her BlogHer registration, and her reservation (just the reservation) at the now-totally-booked-up-you-can’t-even-lick-the-windows-W-hotel. She has chemo that weekend, see, and can’t go. But you could go, and join us while we raise our glasses to her and send her our biggest bloggy best wishes.

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    { 30 comments }

    Julie Pippert July 2, 2007 at 11:56 am

    That’s awesome.

    I agree with your mom (remember my sarcastic “you passive activists rock” blog rant?) but I also believe that talking/blogging can lead to action.

    For example, the Just Post initiative for Open Arms and Stephen Lewis.

    And all the assistance bloggers like Josette from Halushki rounded up for me to distribute during Hurricane Katrina relief.

    Yeah we need to keep in mind it’s the first step, but what a first step it can be.

    And I love the reminder that we are not even a fraction of the women.

    Hey at least Egypt banned female circumcision.

    Lawyer Mama July 2, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    What Julie said!

    Lady M July 2, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Great project!

    I agree with narrowing down causes to focus, at least for a while. We get deluged by so many requests, that I like to pick one ongoing cause (cancer survivorship) and rotate other causes. Otherwise, my focus gets diluted and I don’t remember what I have or haven’t done.

    Lady M July 2, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    By the way, there’s never any need to apologize for re-running photos of the amazingly adorable WonderBaby. For lesser images, perhaps. ;)

    Tere July 2, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Interesting that you wrote about this. A group of we Miami lady bloggers has been discussing this same theme, putting our sense of empowerment to work for the greater good, and we’re in agreement that yes, we are privileged and empowered and therefore obligated to do our part to make our community a better place to live.

    For now, we aim to target only Miami, as it is an area plagued by poverty, high costs of living and general asshatery caused by our government and everyone else who walks around with an attitude of entitlement. We feel that everyone (including and especially local bloggers) complains, but no action follows. So we’re going to change that.

    No concrete plans yet, but we had this conversation just a few days ago.

    Dayngr July 2, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    As a fellow Miami blogger with Tere, we recognized that blogging was a great outlet but we could certainly do more to help make a real difference. Blogging is wonderful and when we write about the causes that are near and dear to us they may inspire and motivate others to take action. However, I believe we need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Now, I know this isn’t for everyone because many can’t (for various reasons) get involved beyond spreading the word but for those of us who can, we should.

    Tere July 2, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Oh, and yes, I’m glad you mentioned that what we do and feel with blogging can’t be applied to the majority of women in the world. Very important.

    Mom101 July 2, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Good for you! It’s the American way isn’t it. Only Canadian.

    Christine July 2, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    yes, on the ground action is needed. always. but i am arm chair talking here. someone needs to pull me off my ass.

    Kyla July 2, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    What Julie said. I think I’ve been involved in greater things as a blogger than I ever had in the time before. It has changed me. It has helped me realize the need for action.

    painted maypole July 2, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Look, I love reading your blog, but I have to tell you, it’s Hurricane KATrina. I know it’s just a typo, but for someone who lives the aftermath everyday, and reads a paper where it is still headline news nearly daily, it’s hard to imagine that it’s not emblazened in the mind of everyone else, as well. I’m glad you linked over to that blog, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

    Her Bad Mother July 2, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Wow, THAT’S not embarassing (face flushing BEET RED). Duly edited.

    Lena July 2, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Am hugging you! Virtually! Feel it?

    Jenifer July 2, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Wonderful ideas…a little action goes a long way. Our School Council has about 6 people and while we are a small group the evidence of our efforts – as a group – are evident all around the school.

    We all work our buns off and together we do so much good for the kids. Working together is the key – alone we would accomplish nothing.

    painted maypole July 2, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    thanks for fixing it. ;)

    jen July 2, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    your royal badness, i agree. it was evident by the $2,500 we raised in one week as part of our just posts last month that we are hungering for more. we all stood up. we are ready to keep standing.

    i’ve already left my vote, the yank that i am. count me in. but you know that already.

    Tracey July 3, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Any method of exchanging ideas and opinions is a good way to raise awareness of important topics, and to connect. Blogging is obviously a new community that has become bigger than anyone could realize. And do-gooders should take advantage of any opportunity to do their good!

    dana July 3, 2007 at 10:54 am

    What a great initiative you are taking. This is so great! I’m starting to feel like I need to do a local act in my town. All the inspiration is killing me! :)

    pkzcass July 3, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Sorry HBM that this comment isn’t about blogging empowering women cause I don’t blog…I just read ‘em. BUT, I must, must, MUST tell you that the pic of wonderbaby in the Toronto cap leaves me speechless.

    Mocha July 3, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I dearly love reading about your mother and want her to do some quasi-adopting of me, but we can talk about that another time.

    Maybe this is more controversial than you intended, but I would like to see more actions on the parts of bloggers be responsible for bringing others into the fold. Like your mom mentioned that time about being able to be priveleged and having the opportunity to have concern for our children (I’m mucking it up, but you know) but that just seems to come with all sorts of competition. I hate that part of it, especially for those writers who do so cathartically and are looking for their voice.

    You’ve gotten meta with me again this morning and I’m not sure how to stop you from doing that. But I love it all the same.

    Her Bad Mother July 3, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Mocha, I think that that’s an awesome suggestion. I’ve thought a lot about trying to start something that would facilitate moms with less means get into blogging – donating computers? funding for wireless at drop-in centres? Hmmm…

    And, too, bringing new bloggers more fully into the various folds – totally something to pursue. Will rack my tired brain on that one.

    canape July 3, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    You can write, but you can also act for Whymommy. Projects are going on that will get support and love into her real life hands. If you want to act on it, just email teamwhymommy AT gmail DOT com to get involved in the action part of things.

    Thanks for thinking of her, HBM.

    Queen of the Mayhem July 3, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I love this post! Who knows…..mommy bloggers could take over the world!

    (Or at least help solve a few of the problems that face it….) I am definitely going to keep up with the progress! Good luck!

    Roz July 3, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    “To effect real change.”

    I don’t blog because I don’t have confidence in my voice, or at least I just don’t feel comfortable sharing it, so I read. And in so doing, “real change” HAS been effected, in my life. I may not fit the profile of the type of woman you are targeting with this campaign, but I have felt my life change, my state of mind change, with the ideas I have been forced to contemplate. I have found my own way, just through reading.

    I fully appreciate the message, but frankly, I think “real action” IS being affected, even if we don’t have statistics with which to measure it.

    Roz July 3, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Another thought…

    Despite not being a blogger, I’ve been preaching the blogger word to every new parent that I know, and even some older, more skeptical ones. The same question arises every time- “Well how do you find them?” I usually just give them your blog and tell them to go from there, either with the sidebar or with the links in your posts.

    Soooo… how about making blogs easier to find? A ‘find a blog’ index of sorts, perhaps with categories such as ‘city of origin’ or ‘first time parent’. A bit much like a dating sevice, I suppose, but why, oh why, did I not find any when I was desperately searching for info to get through those first few months? Even if you make it to Blogger, how on earth do you find a blog that actually speaks to you? A lot of searching, and a bit of luck…

    Phoenix July 3, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Ha, I noticed the typo yesterday and wondered which hurricane I’d somehow mixed. I wondered if you were mistaken, but I didn’t think about it. Thanks for fixing it though.

    I think it’s awesome what you guys can do in this blogging world. I’m so new to it, but it’s nice to see people helping others out. Also, Why Mommy has a button that is floating around for people to put up on their sites in support. I think Kristen at Motherhood Unscensored has the code.

    Her Bad Mother July 3, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Roz – VERY good idea! Something to think about…

    crunchy carpets July 3, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    We were discussing this with friends on the weekend.

    My dh is a cynic and doesn’t think much can happen at all…

    I disagree…I think a loud and organized voice ‘of the people’ so to speak is as powerful as any big biz lobby group.

    If organized….if it has clear goals…

    Mocha July 4, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    You’re gonna change the world, woman. I just know it.

    Also, I kinda got you back by racking your brain and I feel smug about it.

    Oh, The Joys July 6, 2007 at 10:19 am

    I’m glad you wrote this. I do civic engagement and volunteer service work for a living. Most of my colleagues think the blogosphere is the most narcissistic universe they’ve ever encountered. It would be great to see the thought converted to real and meaningful action.

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