GamerGate. "Leaked" (I prefer the term stolen) celebrity nudes. Not content with good old garden variety everyday sexism, it seems like the internet has been hellbent on making life especially miserable for anyone who happened to be born without a penis lately. It's enough to make me horribly pessimistic about the future my daughter will inherit.
The other night, while I was starting to mentally draft this post, I tweeted my thoughts about once again tackling this issue:
Am I a bad dad blogger if I write about gender issues again? I mean, it's not as funny a topic as "my kid said fart" but… important.
— Joe Boughner (@joeboughner) September 22, 2014
Also: the stupid world makes me think about stupid gender issues a lot and I'm trying to raise a strong woman that won't deal with your shit
— Joe Boughner (@joeboughner) September 22, 2014
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there's reason for optimism too.
I don't know if it's just that I've become more aware of this sort of thing since having a daughter (probably) or if we're truly on our way to hitting peak misogynist thanks to the proliferation of anonymous asshattery online and the subsequent proliferation of women deciding they're done putting up with this shit calling attention to it.
These days, for every online shitfest that women in technology are forced to endure by neanderthals, there's an eloquent and inspiring call for equality like this free-verse masterpiece by the always awesome Emily Graslie.
And for every person - man or woman - who decides that they don't need feminism, or that feminism has run its course, there's someone like Emma Watson reminding us all that women AND men have a role to play to promote equality and that feminism isn't a dirty word.
So if we really are at a tipping point - if this fight really is going down now - I'm ready to fly the flag and pick a side. I've added my name to #HeForShe's list of men who are taking a stand against gender inequality. At the time of writing I'm one of 45,266 and I look forward to watching that number grow.
Because, frankly, enough is enough. And if it's good enough for Hermione, it's good enough for me.
This is what a feminist looks like. Beard and all.
If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy "5 Important Things I've Learned While Raising a Girl" and "It's a Miracle I've Never Raped Anyone."
I remember it well.
That crestfallen feeling.
Tears streaming down my face.
I was standing in the Doctor of Optometry's office convinced the world was coming to an end. My glasses needed to be fixed and I'd have to wear a loaner pair. They were big, brown, and hideous. I couldn't have been more than 9 or 10 but I was convinced my life was over — or at least my career as a fashion icon (the sort of fashionista that rocked Super Mario Brothers sweatshirts, anyway).
My life did go on, though. But fast forward 25 years and, once again, there was a Boughner child, standing in front of a display case full of eyeglasses, tears visible on her cheeks.
"But I really want glasses!"
*Record Scratch Sound Effect*
Yes, my kid — aged four — was in tears. She'd just had her first eye exam and was told her vision was perfectly fine. In hindsight, we should've seen the waterworks coming. I got my first pair of glasses in grade one. My wife got hers shortly after. Both grandmas, a grandpa, her aunts and her uncle all wear glasses. The kid is surrounded by bespectacled, loving family members.
The good news for my kid is that genetics pretty much dictate she's going to need glasses — likely sooner rather than later. So for my wife and I, it was important that we introduced her to the world of eye exams early — even if only to be reassured that her visual skills are developing normally (so far, so good!).
Her first exam with a Doctor of Optometry was when she was four and now that she's starting school, she has yearly exams (yes, even though her vision is perfect) to look forward to. Luckily, she took to eye exams like a fish to water. She may not show the signs of needing glasses yet but odds are she will, soon.
Here are some signs to look for if you think your child may need glasses:
If you've got kids starting school this fall, it's a great time to take them in for an exam. The recommendation is to get annual exams for school-aged children and Doctors of Optometry start giving exams to kids as young as six-to-nine months of age which seems young, but I can tell you from experience that our doctor was great with our kid, using age-appropriate language and keeping things light and engaging.
When the time comes that my daughter does need glasses, I'm confident she will have more trouble settling on a colour and design than she will have adapting to wearing them. If your child has trouble adapting to glasses though, the Doctors of Optometry offers some great resources to help you out.
Thankfully, styles have come a long way from the round, brown monstrosities that I was forced to wear as a kid. Though they'd probably be hipster-cool again by now...
Sigh. I guess I was just ahead of my time.
I've had the good fortune to attend several conferences for bloggers and other social media types, both as an attendee and as a speaker. I know firsthand how intimidating the whole experience can be. So if you're planning to attend a conference like BlissDom Canada for the very first time, keep these tips in mind (and if you're a savvy veteran, feel free to drop some knowledge bombs in the comments).
This is a tough one to get used to. In most polite company you wouldn't walk into a conversation in progress and start listening in, offering up your two cents as you . . . find . . . pennies in your pocket? I guess? Ok, I'm bailing on the metaphor. Suffice to say, and I mean this in the nicest way, this isn't polite company. This is a blogging conference. People are used to the conventions of Twitter and the like. And they're probably there to network anyway. Sidle on up and make some friends. This is like networking sex panther—60% of the time it works every time (by which I mean use a little discretion. If there are people standing in a quiet corner, engrossed in a quiet conversation, that might not be the best conversation to bomb. Look for the groups of people talking loudly and freely).
This can be tricky, too. I mean, it's nice to go to a session where you know the speaker or where you know the topic is something that interests you. You know you're unlikely to be disappointed and it's human nature to want to hear people say things that reinforce what you already know. But roll the dice once in awhile. Check out a speaker you've never heard of before. Dive into a topic that confuses you. There's a lot to be learned by being the dumbest person in a room. Maybe you'll find a new area of interest or topic of passion. Maybe you'll be challenged to think differently about things you already know. Regardless, you'll certainly broaden your horizons.
I've helped organize conferences before, so I feel a bit like a traitor saying this, but . . . sometimes your best opportunities to learn and connect fall outside the programmed content at the event. Whether it's going to get a beer with someone you've met at a break; carrying on a hallway conversation long after most people have settled into a session block; or simply finding some quiet space to reflect on what you've learned, it's okay to colour outside the lines a bit.
You're going to be bombarded with hashtags. Sponsors will be everywhere encouraging you to tweet their hashtag of choice, whether to win a prize or just to be part of the festivities. Organizers will be promoting the event's hashtag and asking you to share your experiences. Speakers will drop carefully-crafted twit-sized pearls of wisdom, then pause in anticipation of the rush to share their insight online. Remember you can do all, some, or none of those things should you choose. My approach is, generally, to tweet about the event itself in the downtimes. I used to livetweet sessions I attended, but recently I've found I get too distracted trying to tweet—I prefer to immerse myself in the session instead. Your experience may vary.
As for the sponsor thing, it's touchy. I get that sponsors help these events happen. But don't forget their motives aren't wholly altruistic either. They're paying for access to you. This isn't to say all sponsors are bad—far from it. I've had some great experiences thanks to corporate sponsors at these events and I've been perfectly happy to tweet my appreciation. But I also don't feel comfortable with the sense of obligation some conference-goers seem to feel simply because someone's paid to have their logo splashed all over your lunch room. If you want a rule of thumb, tweet what you're comfortable tweeting. Don't tweet out of a sense of obligation.
When I used to work in the technology space it was common to talk to clients about the difference between a platform and a service. A service is something that you turn on and immediately see how it works and how to extract value from it. A platform is something you build on top of. The value comes from what you build and how you use it. A blogging conference is like a platform. Organizers do their best to find a mix of speakers with interesting things to say then combine that with opportunities for you to interact with these speakers, other attendees and, yes, sponsors. If you don't take advantage of these opportunities, it's not the platform's fault. It's yours for not building on it. Push yourself a bit. Get out of your comfort zone. Ask a question in a session. Introduce yourself to someone in the lunch line. And most importantly, listen as much as you talk. You'll be amazed how much you can learn.
There’s nothing worse than picking up your mobile device at a conference and seeing that the battery power is almost gone. Here’s how to avoid that problem.
For more articles, tips, and tricks to help you get organized and make the most of your blog and business visit our BlissDom Canada 2014: How Do You Find Your Bliss? page.
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