Sort of Live from Santa Clara
July 30, 2005

To say BlogHer has been interesting is probably putting it mildly. My session included a panel discussion between myself and Rox Populi, both representing our respective "sides" (bleck) in politics. It's often hard to gage the success of panel discussions, but I think it went well. Although my comments on Ann Coulter during the session will probably get me disowned (it's never stopped me before), the session went fairly well (save the moment when a black woman in the audience asked if I was a KKK member...um, what?). There was a pod-cast and live-blogging of the session which I'll link later as well as discuss my overall perceptions of the conference, but first a couple of oddities.

  • The picture you see is a photo of my feet. Someone was going around doing interviews and taking pictures of participants' feet. All I remember thinking was how glad I was I wore close-toed shoes being that it's been at least 3 weeks since I last had a pedicure. Bare feet photos on the Internet = not cool.

  • There is a fairly good male population here--around 20%. I expected that. What I didn't expect was a male dressed up as a woman (commonly referred to by the progressive society as a "transsexual," a term I will not use because it consciously validates our society's dysfunction). People with testicles do not get to claim womanhood without a menstrual cycle, cramps, and at least having once had the semblance of the ability to push a watermelon through a Cheerio. And though I run the risk of sounding terribly shallow, I'm going to quote Jennifer Anniston aka "Rachel Green" from one of the 6-episodes of "Friends" I watched in my "backslidden days of predominately white prep schools,
    "No uterus, no opinion."
More later.

Posted by Ambra at July 30, 2005 5:18 PM in Blogging
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You are probably the strongest willed women I've had opportunity to know on the web. Good for you. Great story about the protestors.

Hmmm...no uterus, no opinion. I guess that means George Bush and Bill Frist can shut the heck up about abortion.

Well, the context of that quote is that Ross or one of the other male characters was speculating about exactly how bad the pain of childbirth would be. (or something like that...)

Now, it's one thing to say that childbirth hurts. That's allowed because that is common knowledge. Just like it's acceptable to talk about how abortion hurts women...in principle, especially as it relates to truth. But when it comes to the bloody details (both literally and figuratively), a woman is probably better suited to talk about the negative effects of abortion on women and the babies they kill.

I think abortion was a man's idea.

Hey Ambra,

It was nice to meet you today at blogher. Funny that it takes a conf like this to meet another blogger/googler. Still think your shoes are cute and am glad my toes were painted.

Ambra, it was nice meeting you today at BlogHer - I'd agree with you that the transgendered blogger's opinion in regards to abortion should not be valued anymore than any male as neither will ever be faced with that decision.

However, I don't agree with the implication that I may, perhaps, be misreading in regards to her not having an opinion at a female blogger's conference. As someone who identifies with being female her identity firmly belongs at BlogHer and with it her various opinions.

I didn't get that KKK part AT ALL, either. Good to meet you!

Hey Ambra!

What did you say about Ann Coulter ?

Did the whiteness of the prep schools contribute to the backsliding (I ask not to judge, but because I attended one from grades 4-8, and have an informed opinion)? My question is cultural Ambra, (& readers), so please take it in that light.

"Did the whiteness of the prep schools contribute to the backsliding"

I think so. That habit certainly didn't evolve itself from my own cultural background. When I came home every day, things were very different. My mother couldn't stand the show "Friends," and routinely told us so and why. The bkacsliding reference was a joke, by the way.

Does that mean my mother and sisters all are out of the opinion and advice giving periods of their lives? Next time mama calls with advice on how to raise kids, handle coworkers or what to have for dinner I will be sure to run no uterus, no opinion by her. It will be a hit.

Love the shoes. I don't particularly love the opinion (even though most of my friends and acquaintances think I am one of the scarey conservatives.)

Then again, I believe that only women get abortions.

When someone asks if you are a member of the KKK, you could always tell them that they must be confusing you with Senator Byrd.

Does that mean my mother and sisters all are out of the opinion and advice giving periods of their lives?

No. That's why I said, "At some point in their life, had the ability to squeeze a watermelon out of a cheero." I chose those words very carefully because I knew someone would through in the hysterectomy/menopause scenario. I'm at least that smart.

Nice shoes!

I'm everyone likes the shoes, all I can think is ouch. This comming from one who has no feeling in his toes.

Ambra, it looks like your feet would hurt in those things.

Thank God I am a man.

"No uterus, no opinion."
lol That's kinda funny, but what about the baby's opinion? :)


"I think abortion was a man's idea."
Actually, no. It was a racist white woman's idea to get rid of non-whites. Interesting, eh?

"People with testicles do not get to claim womanhood without a menstrual cycle, cramps, and at least having once had the semblance of the ability to push a watermelon through a Cheerio."

LOL & so true. You are smart.

Yes Anne is correct. It was all about racist population control and it still goes on today. The entire Darwinian theory by the way, is racist.

As for the shoes, they are all soft italian leather, soles included which makes them one of my most comfortable pair of shoes. I don't buy shoes that hurt my feet. It's a long-standing policy of mine. Unfortunately, comfy shoes sometimes cost $$$.

Ambra, sorry we didn't get to meet at BlogHer. I would have loved to have the chance to discuss your opinions on transgendered people with you face-to-face.

Thank you for providing such excellent contrast in this posting. Without voices such as yours, the rest of us might start to forget what willful ignorance and bald-faced terror of anything beyond the mainstream sounds like. And then we might forget how important it is to confront and counteract those problems directly.

Best,

- Amy Gahran
Editor, CONTENTIOUS

Hey Amy,

If the fact that something is "mainstream" is what qualifies it for acceptable, this world is in a whole heap of trouble.

thanks for your comments...and despite your sarcasm, I would have liked to discuss my thoughts with you face to face too!

Hmmmm, I didn't say that anything beyond the mainstream was inherently "acceptable" or "unacceptable," so I don't understand where you're going with that line of thought.

My point is that knee-jerk, fear-based, blanket repulsion and scorn
toward anything non-mainstream or unfamiliar is generally a problem -- for the people who have that reaction, the people directly affected by them, and society at large.

Now, if you have given the issue of gender and transexuality
considerable thought and still arrived at your stated perspective, then I apologize. It's certainly your right to be as bigoted and vocal as you please. There's definitely a wide (although not deep) audience for such content. How that reflects on you is your concern.

To me, your remarks about Koan Bremner seemed to stem from ignorance and automatic fear -- a common problem that can be corrected with simple awareness, investigation, logic, and compassion.

- Amy Gahran
Editor, CONTENTIOUS

Logic compassion bigoted I am confused. If someone is diametrically opposed to something because of their core beliefs then they hold none of the previous qualities? I find that to be hogwash! On the contrary I see that many people are quick to project their insecurities on another by stating that if you are in dissagreement with their worldview then there is something wrong with you. Not everyone buys into the man dressed up as a woman philosophy as normal.

- Advocate

Well Amy, to your third paragraph, a simple meander around this site would confirm that not only have I long arrived at my stated perspective on this and many surrounding issues, but I have rooted and grounded principles behind why I feel the way I do. Instead, it seems the knee-jerk reaction most common to this site can be found in the people that stop by, read two posts and think they have me figured out.

My compassion here reads a little differently than most people who might espouse a tolerant viewpoint are used to. I don't do the whole tolerance bit. Tolerance is killing this country. Compassion isn't always soft and accepting. Compassion can also be understanding of a person's plight in such a way that should call us all to a higher standard of living. To look at someone and say, "You were made for a higher quality of life," is a great expression of compassion.

It disturbs me when our society validates people are so confused and depressed, and dealing with so many issues of identity (usually rooted in something deeper and far beyond the external or even the onus of society) that they would enter into the self-loathing and self-mutilating process of attempting to change their sex (an impossible feat no matter what you whack off, how many hormone pills you take, or how far down you press your breats). And yet we celebrate this like it's a great thing. Like going through a couple of surgeories and throwing on some high-heels has really cured the root issue that caused the depression in the first place.

The human identity crisis is probably the number one problem we're facing in this world. It's responsible for suicides, eating disorders, casual sex, gang-banging, prostitution, cross-dressing, and even (dare I say it) political parties. We are so disconnected from the people we are truly created to be that we've established coping mechanisms and false identities to make ourselves feel validated. Moreover, we live in a society that teaches people they shouldn't be satisfied with the body they were born in.

Being male or female is by design is not an arena to be tampered with. It's deeper than just reproductive abilities and it can't be co-opted by someone who feels God made a mistake. My comments kept the issue surface on purpose (Hello? I quoted a less-than-credible in the area of male/female relations sitcom character) but I can go far deeper than that. I'm sorry, but this is a black and white issue for me. You're either one or the other. Anything else is confusion (but that's another post).

I also share your perspective on "no uterus, no opinion!" (though I would count a friend who had to have a hysterectomy in college, without ever having had a menstrual cramp, a period, or a child, as a woman - even without her uterus.)

I did want to clarify that "a man dressed up as a woman" is a transvestite, and many do so in secret, because of potentially being judged or because they are judging themselves, and have their own reasons for their part-time attire. I'd have been really surprised to see any on the "Being Naked" panel, which was about authenticity, living your life inside out, and being adult enough to own the consequences (just like you are in your blog).

Individuals like Koan, the person you referred to in your post, are not just wearing the other gender's clothes in private (and as I recall, she was in pants, flat shoes, a t-shirt and jacket - like several other women - not exactly pumps and pearls :-) ) These folks are actually going through significant medical treatments, lots of prescription drugs, counseling, speech therapy, gait therapy, and hormone swings that you and I can (thankfully) only imagine...not to mention weathering the disapproval of others. Whether you find their choice outrageous or admirable, it's clear that it's a lonely path for many.

And despite the fact that it's 2005, it's still hard enough to be a woman in many areas of society. I watch my clients - all women - deal with it every day. So, IMHO, anyone who *chooses* to join women, as we work to change the world to be a more tolerant and peaceful one for our sons and daughters, is maybe a little crazy (who chooses to join a group with LESS power?), a little brilliant and incredibly brave in my book, and has earned the right to share her story at a women's gathering.

Personally, as a fan of diversity, I hope to see a lot more of women like Koan at the next BlogHer.

And I do love your shoes (I had closed-toe ones on in my picture, too.)

Hi Jennifer,

Although I disagree, I appreciate your candor and the respectful manner in which you left your comment.

In next year's Blogher, I hope to see some diversity in general--especially of opinion, which judging from the feedback I've received on this one minor comment which was said in passing, is not particularly desired by many. In most every group in which I participated, there was an unspoken assumption that everyone believed the same thing.

Color too. I think there were all of 7 black women there? Yikes, that's pathetic. Or perhaps reflective of the blogosphere. Whatever the case, one thing was clear to me at the conference: women roll in packs. A great number of people there were all from the same circle of blog influence, hence the visible lack of diversity in some areas.

There are untapped troves of women online that have lots to say that doesn't necessarily line up with much of what was being discussed last weekend. Next year I'd like to see the philosophical qualifiers left behind.

"Tolerance is killing this country. Compassion isn't always soft and accepting. Compassion can also be understanding of a person's plight in such a way that should call us all to a higher standard of living. To look at someone and say, "You were made for a higher quality of life," is a great expression of compassion."

I couldn't agree more! The best expression of compassion, however, is to tell them and show them and teach them the higher standard of living, the TRUTH, which is the Bible.

Well Anne, that is the "higher quality of life" of which I speak.

Ambra,

Interesting to meet you. Two comments, though.

(1) I podcasted your session. I am going to have to comb through it right now because I do not have any recollection of anybody asking you if you were part of the KKK. Or was this elsewhere?

(2) You have strong opinions just like anybody else, but I think it is disengenious for a minority woman to go stomping on other people like Koan who are even further down in the pecking order. I actually am happy she was there; just like I am happy you were theere too; even if we don't meet eye to eye in almost about everything; especially the definition of feminism.

BlogHer was about opening my mind and so, here I am in your blog.

Liza,

It was nice to meet you there as well. I have no doubt in my mind that all the women present were smart, witty, and very good at what they do. To answer your question, Marian of "Marian's Blog" (sorry, I don't have link on hand) asked the question, but she may not have had the mike at the time so it probably wasn't recorded. Anyway, she emailed me privately about it. It's all good, I just found the sentiment off-base.

About that "pecking order"...

(1) I'm not stomping on Koan. There's a greater issue here. I'm speaking to the general sentiment that men masquerading as women is an "okay" and "liberating" thing. Sorry, but that just doesn't align with my worldview.

(2) I'd already read your blog ;-)

At 4:30am when I am trying to make deadlines and feeding off the time difference, your blog (and the comments made by others therein) always serves as a source for thought-provoking material. You must be doing something right, as people seem to hold your slightest turn of phrase up for microscopic inspection.

Thought I would drop a line and say hi, and also to let you know not to fear: the Chinese government is letting your stuff through uncensored (so far as I know and for whatever it's worth).

Anyway, no real point. To be honest, I am not so sure about the shoes, but the suspect nature of my fashion sense is well-documented.

Peace,
jeff...

If you weren't "stomping on Koan", what was your intent in linking to a photo of her? I can't see what your motivation possibly could have been for doing so, other than to say (without explicitly saying) something like, "hey, check out this freak." I fail to see how doing the virtual equivalent of pointing and laughing at somebody who's different helps prove a point about a "greater issue".

Jeff Jorve, ohmygoodness how ARE YOU! And how in SAM Hill did you find out about this site? On another note, your comments on Jane Palais on our high school reuinion evite CRACKED me up. We have to catch up...

Kirsten, I don't see anyone "making fun" of any one else and I fail to see how my discussion on a serious topic is the virtual equivalent of laughing. Did you even READ my last few comments on the subject? If I haven't made it abundantly clear throughout the last 500 or so words, it's very serious to me. If linking the photo of HIM comes across as funny to people, then I certainly will de-link it since that wasn't my intention in the least.

You didn't answer my question. Why did you link to the photo of Koan? I wasn't referring to the rest of your post or your comments, I was referring to the link to the photo that you included, and wondering why you chose to include that.

My intent was to reference the topic in the manner in which it was presented to me. On Saturday, it was visual. This is the internet; to give context to something, you give a link. Simple as that. People do it every day on blogs without anyone questioning their motives. However, today's (or rather, Sunday, when I posted this) topic seems to be touchy.

I might add, no one has made any joking references to the photo I linked. Had they, their comment would've been deleted.

Presumably, you had some outside information telling you that Koan was a transgendered person. (In particular, I assume that she had pants on during the talk, and that you therefore had some background information from which to conclude that she had testicles.) I wasn't there, so I don't know if she talked about being trans during her talk, or if you knew that from elsewhere, but either way, the image of her doesn't really seem to crucial in conveying the fact that she is trans, either from your perspective or that of your readers.

Anyway, talking about the choice to include or not include a link to a photo might seem silly, but I can't really address the content of your opinions as expressed in comments here, since I can hardly argue with Jesus.

You can say what ever you want here Kirsten as long as you don't use foul language or take your comments farther than I deem appropriate. People disagree with me all day every day. That's fine. But please don't expect me to cosign on dissent just for the sake of inclusion. We're clearly at odds on philosphy here--not some photo on Flickr.

Is this 'blogging like rock star"?

You have:

1. Taken long periods of time off from blogging over the past few months
2. Tackled subject matter that is clearly challenging on many occasions .
3. Presented your faith clearly, but not as a badge or a talking point, but as a clear indicator of the basis of your perspective on this life as well as eternity.
4. Embodied the thesis of Francis Schaeffer's -How Shall We Then Live-. Specifically that there are moral absolutes that do not adjust to stay in the vicinity of the mainstream.
3. Shown a picture of pointy pink shoes

And... yet you have a huge following, have stimulated excellent, deep discussion and have attracted articulate input from many others who don't share you worldview. I think this proves what we all have suspected.. You are ready for prime time! Rock on.

Sincerely,

A Fat ,Bald, White Guy in the Midwest (with all original equipment)

To look at someone and say, "You were made for a higher quality of life," is a great expression of compassion.

Ambra: Amen - Preach it louder!!!! What you said in that response should be a complete article not just hidden here in the comments.

I must agree with that Fat ,Bald, White Guy in the Midwest (with all original equipment)Ron H. This is what Blogging is about. I just wish I was as articulate as most of the commentors here. The original post was great but the reaction to it has been outstanding.

My goodness, you sure stirred up the dirt settled to the bottom of everyone's glass, didn't you?

>>People with testicles do not get to claim womanhood without a menstrual cycle, cramps, and at least having once had the semblance of the ability to push a watermelon through a Cheerio.

interesting. by this definition, i seem to qualify more as a non-man than a woman. after the hysterectomy, i no longer have periods, cramps, a uterus at all--and i've never pushed anything through my birth canal. i think i mind the reductive and glib definition of womanhood more than the indictment of transgendered people.

if what makes a woman is the list above, being female is less valuable than i ever guessed. and if we acknowledge that it takes more than body parts to build a woman, we're pretty close to admitting we can't define what exactly confers femaleness. and when we don't know, we have no business saying it's impossible or deviant to be born as a woman with a penis.

I just want to know how do you get your feet into those shoes.

> Tolerance is killing this country.

I could hardly agree more. We need to go wayyyyy beyond tolerance and mere acceptance and really promote/create/sustain diversity -- not just tolerate it.


> Compassion isn't always soft and accepting. Compassion can also be
> understanding of a person's plight in such a way that should call us all to a
> higher standard of living. To look at someone and say, "You were made for a
> higher quality of life," is a great expression of compassion.

I could hardly agree less. I think it's a great expression of self-righteous hubris to imagine any one of us can imagine the best life for someone else. Nor does "People with testicles do not get to claim womanhood... no uterus, no opinion" strike me as a particularly compassionate statement.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
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Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
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