5 Thoughts on Mumsnet’s Blogfest 2013

With a bag full of business cards, a pocket full of tissues, vintage boots on my feet and an afro-puff atop my head I headed on over the river to the Mumsnet Blogfest event.

Was I excited? You bet. Much to my partner’s chagrin I could hardly sleep the night before. My blog – Pram On Rye – had finally launched and it was a sign – serendipity! – that Blogfest was taking place the very next day. I have spent many years dicking around, but now I was ready to take my writing to the next level. Perhaps Blogfest – a massive event with top-level speakers, bloggers, writers, social media experts and most important of all, mothers, would help propel me on my way.

It was great in many ways, with some fantastic speakers and much to learn. Already there are plenty of blogs singing its praises. Rather than join the chorus, here are my 5 immediate nuggets of constructive criticism:

1. Mumsnet Blogfest attendees are overwhelmingly white, middle-class, able-bodied and (I suspect) heterosexual.

There was very little diversity at Blogfest. While there were plenty of women of colour attending to the event (pouring tea, taking coats, etc.) I was one of just a handful attending it. Not one of the speakers was non-white. This I find indefensible, distressing and hugely disappointing. It begs the questions: first, why’s Mumsnet so white? And second, where the ethnic minority ‘mummy bloggers’ at? They are questions I’ll return to when I post more on the homogeneity of ‘mummy blogging’ and the space in which I find myself.

2. Mumsnet Blogfest attendees are obsessed with cupcakes. Fucking cupcakes!

My eyebrows raised when the crowd whooped with glee at the thought of winning a box of cupcakes for the best tweet of the day. I could contain my snarkery no longer the 5,000th time the word ‘cupcakes’ was mentioned and tweeted:

I understand America’s cultural hegemony over everything we do, eat, drink, think and see, but come on! Us Brits have fairy cakes – anyone remember them? Cupcakes are so yesterday. If cupcakes were fashion they’d be last season. Let cupcakes go.

3. Mumsnets Bloggers are a little unfriendly and very cliquey.

Rachel Glitzer a.k.a MummyGlitzer today tweeted that she was “gutted” that most people she met at Blogfest were people she already knew and is chastising herself to “grow a backbone and talk to people”. I found this to be so true. Catching up with old friends at an event is a given, but so is trying to connect with people you don’t know. I came to the event not knowing a soul. I sadly left the same way.

4. There are many way to be a feminist – and you don’t need boobs to be one.

The final session was entitled, “Can you be a ‘mummy blogger’ and still be a feminist?” The title alone was intended to cause consternation I’m sure. The session was meant to be provocative. However, no-one could have envisioned the way it played out: with most attendees feeling maligned and put-upon. Misunderstandings and miscommunication flew about the room and at one point I felt the audience were being attacked by the panel.  The session was divisive and unproductive and, to my mind, did little to further the cause of feminism.

5. Professor Tanya Byron (@ProfTanya) was superb.

Brilliant, engaging, funny, clever. She spoke seemingly without notes. I wish I had filmed her. I looked at her and thought, I want to be you one day.

Bonus point: 6. The goody bag was exceptionally good. 

You can have the Richard Bacon book back though, Mumsnet.

An Exceptionally Cute Goody Bag

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37 Responses to 5 Thoughts on Mumsnet’s Blogfest 2013

  1. Mummy Glitzer says:

    Totally with you on the cupcakes. What the heck happened to good old British fairy cakes?! Besides, don’t tell anyone but I am not a huge cake lover. I am more a chocolate person. But chocolate cake is fine in any form. Absolutely agree re Prof Tanya Byron, she was amazeballs.

    Sorry you didn’t get to meet anyone, that makes me sad but kudos to you for going on your own! I do hope it hasn’t put you off other events.

    • prampusher says:

      Hello Mummy Glitzer!
      Thank you so much for commenting. Down with cupcakes!
      I’ve not been put off from attending events, you’ll be glad to hear. It was a bit disappointing not meeting anyone but I won’t be deterred!

  2. HI – I agree with you on almost all of that!
    Living in south London I always find it really odd when I’m in a crowd that’s almost entirely white people (and I am one!) I hope there are more diverse bloggers out there, although to be honest I’ve not come across all that many.

    I was also there on my own but I did manage to get chatting to a few people, it helped that I came across a couple of people who’s blogs I’d read or who had seen mine so perhaps the fact that this blog is so new counted against you?

    and yeah prof Tanya was great!

    • prampusher says:

      Hello Southwark Belle,
      Thank you for reading my post and also for your insightful comments.
      It’s heartening to hear that someone (mostly) agrees with me!

  3. Hi- im what u would classify as an ethnic minority mummy blogger, im still fairly new to it all and did not attend blogfest, however I suppose the only way mumsnet blogfest will become less white middleclass is if more people like you and me attend, I salute your efforts on attending on your own but am sad you did not meet any new people, good luck with your blog!

    • prampusher says:

      Hello!
      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and also comment. It is lovely to (digitally) meet another ethnic minority mummy blogger.
      Good luck to you too – I look forward to reading your blog.

  4. noprizes says:

    Agree about the homogeneity of faces. I thought that on the day too. No mention of diversity, in that respect.

    • prampusher says:

      Hello noprizes.
      Thank you for commenting. The homogeneity was startling, wasn’t it? And quite disappointing. As others have mentioned, the only way this is going to change is if more diverse voices are brought to the fore. Enter this blog!

  5. Hi missus, totally agree with your points, I was pretty shocked that near enough everyone there fit in the same box. I felt ludicrously young and out of place too. I’m guessing perhaps your average Mumsnet reader is that person you described above and that’s how it was reflected on Saturday. Bloody good on you for coming though, I totally understand how daunting it is. Was so lovely to meet your uber smiley face x

  6. lauraludlow says:

    Hey! Love your blog. Well done taking the plunge. I’m still learning so much even after a couple of months! I felt a bit norman no mates as well – going down that escalator, I figured EVERYONE knew each other! I did tweet a couple of people the week leading up to it and we hooked up which was really nice. We are all new to this, so why don’t I include you in the chat with them and then NEXT year we will be just like everyone else X

    • prampusher says:

      Hello LauraLudlow.
      Thank you for commenting, and for complimenting this rather new little blog. It would be ace if you could include me in any and all chats you’re having (!). I really appreciate the offer. xx

  7. exsqueeze me, I remember being very friendly :) I went off and spoke to a few people but some weren’t all that friendly even though I knew who they were, maybe they are too high up in the bloggers world for little ole me :) It was lovely to meet you and have a giggle too, I never said cupcake once either :)) Speak soon.

  8. ps, pug is super cute x

  9. And it was lovely to meet you and chat over lunch. I’m sorry we didn’t catch up again during the day. I like your blog and your writing and am going to introduce you to HelMelness blog who I no doubt will have something to add to your thoughts above. Great beginning. Do stay in touch, our meeting was altogether too brief! xx,

    • prampusher says:

      Anya, you have been great. Thank you so much for commenting, sharing my blog with other like-minded individuals, suggesting contacts and being an all round supportive person. It’s so good to have you in my corner!

  10. And this post has just come to my attention – where the blogger has similar observations / concerns – http://chocolateisnottheonlyfruit.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/is-it-just-me-or-is-blogging-white-thing.html

  11. Swazi says:

    I really wish I’d seen you to talk to on Saturday – it’s not easy feeling you don’t fit (read my blog post about blogging bring a white thing – we are on the same page !) oh someone’s already linked to it – thanks Anya xx

    I’ll be your friend if you’ll be mine :o) xx

    P.s. I love fairy cakes :o)

  12. Agreed re: Prof Tanya. She was fantastic. Unlucky with the book. I got Jon Ronson’s in my goody bag which I was infinitely pleased about as I’ve already read RBs. I’ve only read the first chapter so far but I’m thoroughly enjoying it already. I’ll send it to you when I’m done if you like!

    I wish I’d bumped into you on the day. I went not knowing a soul too and while at times I felt a bit first-day-at-school, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the day was finding myself sitting next to someone totally new and striking up conversation.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the homogeneity of ‘mummy blogging’. I did look about myself at one point and wonder if there are enough ears in the world for all of those voices…..

    • prampusher says:

      Hello Philippa! Thank you for commenting. Please please may I borrow the Jon Ronson book after you’ve finished with it?

      The love and support I have received after writing this post has been wonderful. It’s gratifying to know that my new and little blog has such an active and engaged readership. Yay!

  13. Mary says:

    Great points well made. I’m trying to work out my writing style – I love how you just say it as it is.

    I was really lucky in that I bumped into really lovely people from all walks of life. Cannot argue that lots of us look like we were made in the same pop cake tray (thought I’d throw pop cakes into the mix).

    The session with Jon Ronson, Tanya and Sue Black was my favourite by miles.

    Oh, and where I come from, we always used to say ‘buns’ – I find fairy cake rather exotic! And none of the cupcakes I saw were anywhere near the size of a cup. Hang on, am I proving a point here and obsessing about cupcakes?

  14. prampusher says:

    Hi Mary. Thank you for stopping by, for commenting and also for the compliment!
    (Also, LMAO at ‘pop cakes’.) You have totally proved my point about cupcakes, yes. Ha!

  15. Firstly I am so sorry that you left without making any friends – I’ll be your friend! (I’m white and straight though so I can’t tick any of your other boxes). I have to say I agree with everything you say here – I was really surprised by the whiteness last year – Britmums Live was the same too.

    I hate how they set up that last session – utter stupidity, ridiculous question. It’s things like that that divide women, make us look ridiculous and set the whole feminist debate back a few years… grrr! I am still waiting to read my first Daddy blogger’s view of it all.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts – I’m still digesting mine!

  16. I’m still pretty new to blogging and an ethnic minority mummy blogger (well mum to be) I think maybe if they promote themselves a bit more broadly more people of colour would attend. I also felt I was one of the youngest people there being 31. I didn’t feel uncomfortable but I did notice the lack of younger people and ethnic minorities. I also think the price of the ticket put people off attending,IHow many people you know have a spare 95 quid sitting in their pocket? however I must say I think for the quality of the day and what was included the price was justified.

    Even though I enjoyed my day at Blogfest I still haven’t decided how I felt about it as a whole which has put me off blogging about it.

    I have to admit if I didn’t have my friend with me I would have struggled. I think the reason it seemed cliquey is a lot of people know each other from online or via each others blog. So thank you for being brave and introducing yourself to me it was a pleasure to meet you xx

  17. Mammasaurus says:

    I missed the cupcakes! HOW THE DEVIL?!

  18. emilytealady says:

    I think you’ve summed it up pretty well. I found it difficult to talk to anyone else, apart from when I had gin in my hand. I also agree with Cas that I felt rather young, there was a definite demographic wasn’t there. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog x

    • prampusher says:

      Thank you Emily Tea Lady.
      I found the gin no help – I should have hit the cocktails at the Mark Warner bar, perhaps.
      It is strange that some demographics seemed so underpresented at the event.

  19. joyejariajoyfuljoyous says:

    I find that there is always a lack of ethnic minority bloggers at such events. Was gutted that I wasn’t able to make it to blogfest and followed it via twitter but in a way I am glad I didn’t actually attend because I would have been Billy no mates. I am a young black mother of one with another on the way so I definitely would have for in. Oh and yes tire of seeing cupcakes. P.s love your writing style and how you say it as it is

    • prampusher says:

      Thank you for commenting, Joy. And for the compliment. It is strange that there are so few ethnic minority bloggers at events such as Blogfest. Other demographics such as younger parents don’t seem to be much represented either. Keep visiting my blog to read my follow-up piece. I plan on investigating further.

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