Saturday, July 25, 2009

LIVEBLOGGING - Vaginally Challenged Bloggers - the Men of BlogHer

Session Description: Among hundreds of women, we stand out as the men of BlogHer. We view the world differently. Some of us are single. Some of us are married. Some of us have kids, some don't, and some of us are just big kids ourselves. The male personal/life blogger is a minority among the personal/life blogging community, and our perspective could be invaluable to any blogger, mommy or otherwise, who wants to make the most of her audience. Join Avitable, BusyDad, and Child’s Play x2 in a discussion about the role male bloggers play within the blogging community, and how that impacts what they write, how they network, and why you should be on board with the work they’re doing.

The session was extremely well-attended, with women and men sitting on the floor and crowding the doorway.

Attendees are asked to use the Twitter tag #bhmen.

Miss Britt, the moderator, began the session by introducing herself and the name of the session, which got a round of applause. There will be no stripping in the session.

Avitable, BusyDad, and Matthew were introduced to the audience, to more applause. Attendees were asked to use the mic to speak, to be nice, and stay on topic. Presents will be distributed at the end of the session.

Avitable began by discussing his humor/life blog. This is his first BlogHer Conference.

BusyDad was next. He introduced his "daddy blog," but considers himself a male mommyblogger.

Matthew introduced his blog about his twins (4 years old). He also considers himself an honorary mommyblogger.

Miss Britt asked the panelists to talk about what their wives and friends think about them blogging and having online friendships with so many women. Specifically, "blog wives."

BusyDad began by saying most of his readers are women, and his friends think it's the coolest. His wife deals with it. She does have a watchlist (much laughter) of people of interest (more laughs). She has accepted his blogging because it's mainly about his kid. He connects to his online friends through parenthood, which is a different dynamic.

BusyDad blogs with Mr. Lady and she's his blogwife. She's on the list. (Edited to add that this was a joke, the list is fictional and Mr. Lady is a good friend of BusyDad and his wife. It didn't translate as a joke in the original LiveBlog.)

Avitable was asked about how important his online friendships are. He considers his online friendships as important, if not more, than "IRL" friendships. He gets along well with women and doesn't consider himself a "manly men" (no sports, no cars... waxes eyebrows). His wife is ok with it for the most part. There are occasionally issues where she feels like "Wife #2" in the shadow of Miss Britt.

Miss Britt: "This is not about your marriage."

Matthew was asked about commenting on women's blogs, and does he feel like he has to be careful to not be perceived as a creepy perv.

He said it's hard because he's obviously creepy. He's careful. He tries to be a smart ass. He mostly follows Mommybloggers.

Miss Britt asked if the guys are aware of the fact that they're men and they're interacting with women all the time.

BusyDad said that he always keeps the husbands in mind when he comments, and he's very careful, unless he knows someone well.

Miss Britt - Let's talk about the difference between a male and female blogger. Is your perspective different?

Avitable said "to some degree" because a lot of the women blogging for each other have similar, relateable situations. It's sometimes harder to relate to women when you're a dadblogger. He tries to provide support without being creepy. In the community, women tend to bond strongly.

Matthew said that he started blogging 5 years ago, and there weren't a lot of parenting blogs. He began following a lot of Daddyblogs. It was empowering to him to find men who love being dads. There is a dad community that is supportive and fun. He loves hearing from moms that he's doing a good job.

BusyDad stumbled on the community by accident. He thought he pioneered the concept of dad blogs (laughter). He looked for dad websites when he started. Afterwards he found a gazillion dad blogs. The concept of community is still the same. Similar experience comments are cool.

Avitable said that he's not a Dadblogger. He is married, but not a father. There isn't a large group of childless, male, personal bloggers. He feels like he doesn't fit into groups, so he can go anywhere and fit in.

Miss Britt asked about boundaries and guidelines, and if they're different from those for Mommybloggers.

Matthew shies away from parenting issues because he feels Mommybloggers "own that." He doesn't want to take that on. He does sometimes want to post but he doesn't want to get flames. Miss Britt asked, "Like what?" and he said that the live interaction between men and women on Twitter is interesting. He saw a thread where a woman was pissed at her husband for telling her what to do with the kids. A dadblogger said, "Isn't he a parent too?" and she said, "I don't tell him how to do his job, he shouldn't tell me how to do mine."

He has a draft post about that which he's saving. As a dad, he is trying to blast through a glass ceiling and to become equals as parents.

BusyDad said that there's nothing he hasn't posted because of reprocussions. His blog is lighthearted, because his family reads it. He doesn't want to rant because his mom may read it. He doesn't want to write anything that crosses lines.

Avitable, "IS there a line? Other than full frontal nudity...." His mother does read, but has asked him to change his last name.

Miss Britt asked if men can get away with nudity online in a way that men can't. Avitable talked about cleavage and ass contests, and half-naked Thursday. Avitable said that women can be empowered and proud of their bodies. For him, it's usually for comedy. It depends on how people do it and the nature of the post.

Miss Britt asked, as readers, what do you look for in a blog? Why do you read the blogs you read?

Matthew looks for good writing, and loves stories. He is not as interested in "I hate my husband" posts. The day to day stuff doesn't make him come back, but the stories are like opening a book and he'll come back over and over. Called out Allie from Cheaper Than Therapy as a good example.

BusyDad looks for humor. He goes online to relax and laugh. Related to that, if he gets to know somebody and he's interested in them as a person he'll be connected to them and will be interested in their life via their blog.

Avitable said he has a group of people he's invested in personally who he reads, and there are funny people who look at life with humor. When he comments on people he expects them to read him, too.

Miss Britt asked, "Why are you at BlogHer?"

BusyDad said, "10% men 90% women, and we have this!" He said this is where his friends are. His blog is a hobby. He wants to connect.

Matthew said he came because he had a tragic event in his life 6 months ago that was difficult to blog about. He reached out to people who had commented and had an amazing outreach of support. He then realized he wanted to meet those supportive people in real life. They're his friends, regardless of gender. The men who are here are friends, too.

Miss Britt asked a question about whether or not they consider the fact that women aren't allowed to be gender-blind like the men say they are.

Matthew said he grew up with a single mom and is more comfortable with women than men. He feels comfortable, and not like an invading outsider.

BusyDad has not felt like an invader or like he's unwelcome. He just fell into things. He said he's always had more women friends than men.

Avitable invaded intentionally. He came to meet friends at BlogHer. When it comes to personal blogging, men are a minority and he wanted to represent the small community of men who blog.

Miss Britt asked if we feel invaded. Casey from Moosh in Indy said that men being here starts bad rumors among women. Was asked, "Like what?" Casey said, "there's drama in groups."

Everyone talked about who was rumored to be sleeping with whom, to lots of laughs.

Matthew said, "What do we do about it, do we stay away? We're not here to hurt people, we're here to be with our friends."

Casey made sure everyone knew who was not sleeping with whom.

The problem is with the people spreading the rumors. Casey ended with "be nice bitches!" to applause.

Avitable said "We can't always worry about rumors, they're going to happen regardless."

Andrea from Mommy's Martini said to Matthew, when he said, "women owned parenting," her response was "that's really sad," and she got angry on his behalf. As a woman and a feminist and a WOHM, she feels like part of the generation that has asked for father's to be more involved, and it frustrates her to feel like people who are representatives of the best ways for men to be involved with their kids, are sitting here saying they feel like they can't own that.

She asked them to write the post that embraces that involvement. She said it's sad to deny something so fabulous.

Matthew thanked her and said that he's been a single dad for 6 months. He choked up and said that post was very personal, and he feels that he does a good job raising his kid (applause).

Matthew gets upset when he sees men not owning that part of what being a man is, and hopes through his blog to encourage other men to be involved in their kids' lives. The wife has to let that happen.

BusyDad believes that he's not going to shove anything down peoples' throats and stand on a box and say, "Men are just as good." He shows it by telling the stories, and thinks that's just as powerful.

Avitable said that if he ever has a child he'll be the one in charge and will own that. His wife is busy and preoccupied, and would be willing to let him be the primary caregiver. She is wonderful.

Kari from I Left My Heart at Preschool thanked all the men for coming to BlogHer. She would've been intimidated to go to a con that was 90% men. Asked if any of the panelists' guy friends have changed in their own parenting because they've read the panelists' blogs.

BusyDad's friends are single and read the blog for comedy. His friends who do have kids are naturally like-minded and are very involved in their kids' lives.

Matthew agreed that his male friends are very involved with their kids because he chooses friends who are similar to him. He likes to think someone might read his blog and say, "That's pretty cool."

Avitable said all his friends are female. He has no guy friends.

Miss Britt asked Avitable if it's different for him at BlogHer because he's not a dad, asked how he finds his niche.

Avitable said that's why he went with humor and envelope pushing. He likes to entertain himself and his readers.

Shari from Diary of a Crazed Mommy said that people outside of blogging don't understand mommyblogging - asked how the dads approach that question from someone outside the community.

Avitable - "I post my balls on the internet!" to laughter and woots.

BusyDad said that his blog is a hobby, so when people ask "What do you do?" he doesn't say, "I'm a blogger." When they ask about the blog he says, "I post funny stories about my kid."

He got funny looks for going to a blogging conference.

Mighty Girl is Matthew's cousin, so for him, he feels like he's "just" telling stories for family. He resisted calling himself a blogger or a writer until recently. He said it's easier now because people know what blogs are. He still gets funny looks, but he owns it now because it's a big part of his life.

Megan from Undomestic Diva asked if the panelists find themselves to be the storytellers in their IRL lives. Avitable used to be but now he has a friend who won't let him tell stories (he was talking about Miss Britt, everyone laughed).

A lot of Avitable's friends are bloggers and they'll all be telling stories.

BusyDad was always the guy who told stories in his group. It was a natural transition to blogging. He told stories via e-mail, too.

Matthew never thought about it, but he actually has always been the storyteller in his group.

Sarah runs LabelDaddy's blog. They've been trying to reach Dadbloggers. Asked if panelists think there's a place for Dadbloggers working with companies, and do they want to.

Matthew sat in on the branding session. He gets offended when he gets a "dear mommyblogger" email. He feels like he's open to working with companies, but they've got to KNOW him and who he is and why he'd be a good match for their company. He doesn't want to be used, it has to be a win-win. He lives in San Diego and has a relationship with Sea World. Male Bloggers are such a niche group, but he doesn't think a lot of the men are actively looking for those things, so a relationship has to be built, first.

BusyDad said he's not looking for partnerships with companies. He did do a thing with Pledge. Avitable said, "Oh yeah, I saw that, you're messy," and got laughs. BusyDad said he only does it if it's going to be fun, a natural fit, intersting, postable.

Avitable doesn't monetize his blog and has no interest. He does sex toy reviews for his own pleasure and benefit (laughter). He buys products for his own giveaways. He wants to remain completely objective and not waste good faith.

Miss Britt asked the other male bloggers in the audience if they're interested in the money.

Miss Britt said that men haven't been invited to things. Many of the companies just seem to be looking for women.

Matthew said that companies aren't focusing on what men can bring to the table.

BusyDad said the few companies he has worked with have sought him out because he's a guy. He appreciates that.

Avitable pointed at people to encourage them to ask questions.

A Twitter question asked Matthew "boxers or briefs." He acted like he was going to show us, to applause.

Matthew said, "I am a briefs guy, but they are not whitey tighties."

BusyDad said, "Boxer briefs."

Avitable said, "Manties."

Miss Britt asked if women have been creepy toward them.

Avitable said, "yeah, I've had stalker comments from women." Someone in the audience said "sorry" to lots of laughs.

Avitable said that he's shallow and humorous and has gotten these fawning e-mails, told Britt, and never heard from them again so it works well (laughter).

BusyDad has never had a creepy stalker. Perhaps his definition is off. (laugh)

Matthew wants stalkers, c'mon! (laughs)

BusyDad hasn't had any stalking or negative comments on his blog. He thinks it's because he's not big enough.

Someone asked about inappropriate comments, and he said they've bothered his wife more than they did him. He thinks that people have been respectful of his marriage and they admire him as a dad, but not inappropriate stuff.

Audience member "There's nothing sexier than a good dad." (applause)

Miss Britt asked Matthew, and he said only two comments in 5 years have hurt him. He deleted them and moved on. He gets a lot of supportive comments. The ones that make him sad say, "I wish my husband were more like you." He feels like he doesn't put out.... anything controversial. (laughs)

Avitable said he never deletes any comments but spam, it's fine if people get mad. He gets lewd comments. It doesn't bother him.

Jill from Charming and Delightful asked the dads if they get accused of taking advantage of or exploiting their children the way moms do.

Matthew said, "Guys don't do that." Women bloggers get personal in a way that guys don't. Guys support each other.

BusyDad doesn't advertise, so there's no point but entertainment. He only exploited his kid once, to meet Amy Adams (laughter) and OH! it was nice! (applause)

Avitable said he doesn't exploit Adam 2 and Little Britt to HUGE laughter.

Miss Britt said do you feel like you get a free pass because you're a cool minority in the community of parent bloggers.

Matthew said guys don't do that to each other, and women don't feel as empowered to call us out because they're men.

BusyDad said they have an unfair advantage and they do get a free pass. He said it is unfair, but...

Matthew feels that men don't have to be as good to get recognized.

Emma from Where there's a Willer enjoys reading many of the men because she seriously wishes her husband were like that. She appreciates their depth and thoughtfulness, and wonders if all men have that depth.

Matthew - probably not, but I don't think every woman does, either. His father died when he was very young and he feels it's important for his kids, to know how much he loves them, because he could be gone tomorrow.

Men have to want to be that, Matthew said, but we are seeing a shift toward men being more involved in parenting.

Miss Britt said her husband is very involved, but he'd never talk about it like the panelists do. Wives e-mail BusyDad and say, "I had my husband read your post..."

Miss Britt asked if the panelists think they're more vocal. Avitable thinks a lot of men have trouble communicating, and you don't see blogs from people who can't communicate, and that's why the men bloggers shine a bit.

Issa from Issa's Crazy World asked the dads if they feel like putting their kids' pictures out there crosses a line. Matt changed his kids' names at one point (when he started getting readers outside of his mother! - laughter).

She asked "where's your line?"

BusyDad will share about his family, but not about his work or what he does. Matthew made a joke about managing a strip club, Avitable said something about a greasy pole. Laughter.

BusyDad said as a man you have less fear of kidnapping, because you feel like as a man you'd kick someone's ass. He doesn't feel that danger.

Matthew's wife loves to read his stats and searches. Daddy having sex with twins is way up there. There are no bathtub/nude photos. He doesn't use real names. When the kids are old enough to say "I don't want my photos on there Daddy."

He doesn't want their friends to google their names in 10 years and get teased for what he's said (or photographed). He can let them decide whether or not they want to be a public figure.

Avitable has all his contact info on his blog - phone, address, etc. He has a Halloween party every year. One reader had the police show up at his party. He says it's fine because it allows him to have total accountability for what he says.

Miss Britt said that men don't feel vulerable the way women do. Women are taught to worry about unknowns from an early age.

An audience member who is in law enforcement doesn't see people finding children online to kidnap or hurt. She feels comfortable because of the lack of that ever happening.

BusyDad said that he never posts pictures of his wife because she asked him not to. Miss Britt suggested that she may not exist (laughs).

Dawn from Room 704 asked Adam if his friends in real life consider him the "go to guy" the way his online friends do (particularly with troll posters). He said he's extremely protective and loyal of his friends. He is Captain Saveaho to Miss Britt. (laughter)

Bossy from I Am Bossy asked if they have ever explored other avenues in writing, asked if they feel blogging is legitimate writing.

Matthew said he's taken a long time to gain the confidence, how much he's grown as a writer, now he feels he's grown and is trying to find what he'd want to pursue in a non-blogging format. Thinks blogging is an amazing tool for self-learning and he enjoys the satisfaction of writing a good post that is going to be there for a long time. He thinks blogging is a wonderful tool for skill-honing.

Audience member asked if he feels obligated to blog. Matthew said he's had to refocus as a blogger when he starts to worry about stats and who is reading. His blog is about his kids, his relationship with his children, and when he keeps to that he enjoys it the most.

BusyDad said that 80% of his day job is writing, and the blog was a different avenue for his writing. He said the only end game he had in the blog thing was something he wanted to give his kid when he becomes a dad. The other end game/ideal world thing would be that he'd love to get a book contract, and that's why he's here (laughter).

Avitable said that humor doesn't exist without an audience. He writes for the people because he wants them to laugh and enjoy themselves. He feels that humor in any medium is something he enjoys doing. He doesn't feel that his writing is writing. He feels writing comedy is harder than writing something dramatic, as in acting.

Weezel Mama asked what has been your favorite funny post that you put up.

Matthew said that he has seven favorites posted on his blog. He wrote a story about rushing to get out of the house and leaving a steaming diaper on the bookshelf. Halfway to work he remembered the diaper, and during the lunch break he wrote a convoluted story about why he left a diaper on the shelf to explain to his wife why the diaper was there.

BusyDad's favorite posts are the ones where he can use things that only parents get. One was a fake Jeopardy post, and all the q and a's were things parents go through. He likes to make the connection with other parents.

Avitable said that for last year BlogHer's "letter to my body initiative" he wrote his own funny one and posted a naked picture, and that one makes him laugh.

Stacy from Any Mommy Out There asked about balance and making time to blog and wondered if the dads have that issue, too.

Avitable is self-employed and so he can do it without balance issues.

BusyDad says he can balance by not posting for 2 or 3 weeks.

Matthew says it's a struggle, especially lately, but even before his life changed, he's an executive for a large non-profit popularized by the Village People and that takes a lot of time. There are days when he has no interest in posting, and that just has to be ok. He used to write a lot and is now down to 2 or 3 times a week. He doesn't feel an obligation because blogging is a hobby. He thinks he needs to do a better job of shutting Twitter down and spending time with his wife after the kids are in bed.

Miss Britt asked, as a last question, if the guys think they add something just by virtue of being male.

Avitable said that when you have only women, without the diversity you don't actually grow as a writer. Having a male read your blog and be interested means you're writing for a broader audience.

BusyDad said he thinks that men bring a different perspective and insight. He's interested in how women think and has always read women's magazines, etc.

Matthew says that men bring diversity that is needed. Made fun of Sean over photos and got lots of laughs. Said there were great bloggers out there.

Sean from Backpacking Dad is the one who got made fun of, Miss Britt asked him if the "because you're hot" jokes bother him. Sean said it doesn't bother him coming from this group. If all his blog comments were "people only read you because you're hot" it would bother him.

Then they passed out swag and ended the presentation.

(I've had to close comments on this post due to a ridiculous amount of Japanese p**n spam comments. Please e-mail me if you have comments.)


BusyDad said...

Thanks for the liveblog! And it was great meeting you. However, please do correct one thing. Mr Lady is NOT on the fictional watchlist. I might have jumbled something or other or it came out wrong. She's actually friends with my wife. Just wanted to clear the air on that one in case it gave the wrong idea.

ゲイ said...