Last month I had the immense pleasure of attending Northern Voice 2012. This is the eighth year of Vancouver’s own little blogging-and-social-media conference, distinguished by a resolute refusal to consider the business (or any other non-personal) dimensions of the thing. It got me thinking about gender issues, so here are thoughts on those. With pictures.
One of the nice things about Northern Voice is the gender ratio, closer to sane than pretty well anything else I get to. Not only is such a milieu inherently more pleasant, it leads to the sessions being full of voices I wouldn’t otherwise hear saying things I wouldn’t otherwise think of.
Here’s one of the panels.
Pinterest · My favorite session was Cupcake Feminism: Why Pinterest is more than just Reddit for girls, by Taylor Loren.
The session was challenging, as is Pinterest. I pride myself on being well-attuned to what’s new on the Net, but Pinterest was hot by the time I noticed it. I mentioned it to my wife, who knew already; “Well, it’s sort of for women” she said.
Ms Loren considered two theories: that Pinterest is damaging because it shuffles the girls off in a corner while the men do the real stuff. Alternately, that it’s valuable as a place for values, usually labeled “female”, that would benefit everyone.
She pointed out Simone de Beauvoir’s thesis, from The Second Sex: That things are simply not considered in relation to gender until women are involved; that what men do is the neutral norm. For example, said Ms Loren: The proportion of female contributors to Pinterest is lower than that of male contributors to Wikipedia; but nobody thinks of the latter as a men’s encyclopedia.
Of course, there are problems with this thesis: In certain nations Pinterest is not female-dominated. And some cultural outcroppings (the NFL, audiophilia, porn) are considered “men’s things”. And then, there are problems with that labeling too; the only truth is statistical, and gives no confidence in predicting any one thing about any one person.
Having said all, that, Pinterest is interesting. And Ms Loren delivered her presentation bearing finely-tuned hair and makeup, and a beautiful short dress with pictures of hummingbirds; which I thought was smart and very much to the point at hand.
Another Nice Thing · The conference has had interesting locations. this year, at W2, which gives a different view of Vancouver; from behind so to speak.