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.