Blissdom: the women’s blogging conference with faith as a factor

Have you seen the twits asking if you’re going to Blissdom? Or whether you’re saving it for BlogHer, instead?

 Curious as to what this Blissdom was, I poked around and discovered that Blissdom is a blogging conference for women, to be held this February for the second time in Nashville, Tennessee.

Looking at the web page, Blissdom takes more than a little inspiration from BlogHer’s conference energy–only with two significant differences–Blissdom has a strong Christian faith-based subtheme–and has Walmart as a sponsor.

Sponsored by some Nashville bloggers (would they call themselves girls? I’m not sure), February’s Blissdom ’09 is a repeat of  October’s Blissdom ’08.  This conference started life as a plans for a local party after the BlogHer business tour stop in Nashville, but turned into a day-long event after BlogHer cut back the tour, eliminating the Nashville meet-up.

Now, Allison Worthington, aka Mrs. Fussypants, and her partner Barbara Jones, aka one2onenetwork are calling in the tribe to Nashville for a lingerie and Cosmo-tinged party that Carrie Bradshaw and her gang of pals would surely enjoy (if they were moms of 5 with their own businesses, a relationship with their lord Jesus Christ, and blogs and blog-based businesses of their own, that is.)

The conference pitch is to come to Nashville for fun and fellowship  and “learn from other women about building your blog, your brand, and your business while achieving bliss in those other areas that are so important too: being a mom, a wife, and being true to yourself.”

So here’s the thing:

  • Would I, an irreverent New York Jew transplanted to the Bay area, feel comfortable at Blissdom?
  • Could I too be a Belle of Blissdom?
  • Or would my life as a Bella strike me from the lists?
  • Would the fact I don’t have small kids, or a husband annoyingly but charmingly underfoot a home, deter me from feeling welcomed at this conference? 

And how about that Jesus thing? If God’s grace comes with a cross on it, would I feel welcomed?

While it’s clear the conference wants to bring into people by the boatload who aspire to Allison Worthington’s ability to balance  “her magazine, her mommy blog, her photo jewelry business, five young sons and a wonderful husband with lots of coffee and God’s grace,”  it might also be true that this conference isn’t interested in attracting people who doesn’t fit that model, including childless and single people, LGBT ers and people of color who don’t fit the demo.

On the other hand, this might be the just the women’s blogging audience that  Walmart is looking for. Maybe Walmart has funded Momtourage (iVillage) and Blissdom( this event) because these are their people.

(Of course if that means the more  diverse group at BlogHer just isn’t, it will make me want to scream loudly for at least an hour.)

Short version: Am I the only one who gets the vibe that Blissdom is ground zero for the post-sorority, married with children version of SATC with blogging?

Or am I just being Mrs. Crankpants this morning?

(Update: I’m not angry about this at all. I think it’s fine for everyone to organize into whatever affinity groups ring true for them, and I respect all beliefs and religions, At the same time, this is the first women’s blogging group I’ve run into where many of the organizers list both having kids, being a good wife, and their Christian faith as key to their lives–and while it makes perfectly good sense–it’s also, uh, surprising, especially with Walmart forking out $$ so fast and all.)

Update 2: Mom 2.0 Summit, another niche conference in a rapidly crowding category.

Latest Comments

  1. Mata H says:

    I looked at the conference site and didn’t see any “Christian subtext”, though you obviously have done more research than I. I’m not sure I understand why you are upset. Bloggers can gather for any reason, no?
    I attended a meeting of faith-based politically progressive bloggers that Blissdom attendees may not have liked.
    And (pet peeve here because my buttons got pushed) please remember that not all Christians are fundamentalist, or excluding by nature, right-wing, or closed-minded or have any interest in pushing our faith at you. I also might speak in my blog about God’s grace, but with no attempt to shanghai you or anyone else into some sort of Christian netherworld.
    Maybe there are conferences for mommybloggers, or Jewish bloggers, or transexual bloggers. Or athiest bloggers. Or Christian bloggers. Or pink haired bloggers with tattoos who love shark fishing. Hi ho the merry-o. The more the merrier.
    What am I missing?
    Mata H

  2. Deb says:

    it’s going to be interesting to watch different approaches to conferences emerge as blogging grows. I’m an irreverent, lesbian and though my blog is not “blissful” I would have attendedBlissdom if it weren’t on my birthday because the organizers have always felt welcoming to me, and they are some smart women. I think you might be noticing some regional differences in approach to business, life and gathering approaches where overt Christian references are often present but not forced on anyone.. Blissdom has a Southern feel to me more than a faith-based vibe, and I’m glad they are filling a big gap left in the south by Blogher. Mom 2.0 Summit has a big city, global economy smart vibe to it, and Blogher was a strong West Coast, contemplative and geeky vibe. I think it is all awesome. I wish I could be everywhere.

  3. Anon says:

    It’s my understanding that a lot of the faith cues have been scrubbed from the site in recent weeks. I remember first finding the Blissdom page and thinking it was all much more evident then.

  4. Susan Mernit says:

    Thanks, these are great comments. I think diversity is both welcome and inevitable, and Deb, your comments are iluminating. And yet, I’m unused to the overtly religious–and I think our Anon commentator is right the Christian theme has been dialed down a bit on the Blissdom site..these could very well be regional flavors..thanks for that insight.

  5. Kelby says:

    Hi. I have to say I am a bit surprised. I know that Allison who is a host of the conference is conservative Christian. I am not at all, and I am a speaker. I am also quite open about my opinions on pretty much every social network and blog that I encounter! Hahah.
    I have chatted with Allison on many occasions about this conference. She has never uttered a word like fellowship or Christian to me, and I’ve never gotten a hint that is the purpose of this. I have never known Allison to be anything but tolerant and friendly to everyone of all political and religious beliefs.
    It is a women’s blogging conference. Simple as that. I feel perfectly comfortable speaking there, as an agnostic liberal. I’m not sure why anyone of any belief would feel uncomfortable.
    And honestly, Wal-Mart has been one company that has impressed me in the last year with its outreach to mom bloggers. You have that company with 11moms and sponsoring mom blog conferences, and yet you have Target refusing to even acknowledge “non-traditional media,” in their own words. They have impressed me not.
    Anyway, I have no personal stake in all this besides being invited to speak, but I just wanted to let you know you are way off base here.
    P.S. PLEASE either get rid of the captcha or make it repopulate the comment box if you enter it wrong instead of making you start over. Just FYI.

  6. Megan {Velveteen Mind} says:

    I’m a speaker at BlissDom and had no idea that there were no women of color on the speakers panel. I have no idea if any women of color are attending, either. Or lesbians. Or New Jersey Jews.
    Which made me wonder if I even have any bloggers of color, etc., as editors or writers for my own magazine…
    See, I’ve never checked. I have no idea of the color, sexual orientation, religious background, or affinity for gardening of any of my readers, twitter followers, etc. unless they talk about it. Most of us don’t post photos of ourselves. I’m not sure that other than having a white face that I’ve ever stated that I am white.
    With a little digging, I apparently have blacks, Jews, lesbians, and possibly even Black Jewish lesbians that work on my magazine. And some of those may be men. ;)
    How do you like that?
    My point is that just as I never directly sought out people with specific backgrounds, I never excluded them, either. Come as you are. I need all the help I can get.
    Is there any chance that is what has happened at BlissDom? Did you talk to the founder?
    I’d love to hear more.

  7. Her Bad Mother says:

    I’m a liberal, agnostic Canadian, and I’m speaking at Blissdom (travelling with another liberal, agnostic Canadian who is moderating one of the panels). Alli is a ‘virtual’ friend, and when she asked if I wanted to speak about writing, I said sure. I’ve had no impression of there being any faith-based agenda. Many of the women involved are certainly women of faith, but I haven’t taken that to be a defining theme of the conference.

  8. Dawn says:

    I’m a midwest WASP (God help me – or Buddha or whoever wants to pitch in) – I’m going for Victoria (, the drinks, the weekend away from home, and to see if I can soak up anything new.
    What Megan said is probably right on. I see it as organizers reaching out to those they know and not even thinking of diversity in a calculated way.
    And good on you for just laying it out there and asking the questions.

  9. Candace says:

    First, the usual conflict of interest disclaimer. I have “met” Alli online and like her…but I have no current plans to attend BlissDom and I can’t make BlogHer because my husband has drill that weekend and therefore I have no one to watch my very young kids.
    I don’t see any problem with you raising these issues…and you don’t sound cranky to me…but I think it will be more inclusive than you appear to think.
    So, here’s my outsider’s view of the issues you bring up.
    * I think you only need look at the name, “Blissfully Domestic,” to see that people who have a focus homemaking are the target audience. This is more niche than BlogHer, and BlogHer is of course a niche itself–blogging women.
    * However, I would not conflate that with political designations, race, class, sexual orientation, regional categorizations, etc. In other words, if you are a black, lesbian, jewish liberal from New York who likes to earn a little extra money from home while recycling milk cartoons into darling planters, I think you’d fit in.
    * Even if the conference “skews” on those categories, that does not mean that someone differing from the majority would not be welcomed with open arms. Although I am Christian, I come from a predominately Jewish family in NY. I lived for four years in Central Texas. Everyone was warm and welcoming to me.
    * BlogHer may not be as inclusive as some would hope. There is a perception that BlogHer skews very liberal. And with the anger that has characterized political discussion for at least the last few years, that may mean SOME conservatives do not feel so welcome. Not saying they aren’t or that all feel that way…just talking about perceptions here.
    * Big companies sponsor lots of things. I think that BlissDom’s audience is ONE of Walmart’s audiences…and Walmart would be wise to spread around the love.

  10. Poppy says:

    I went to BlogHer07 and I’m planning on going to BlissDom09 and BlogHer09. (It helps that I live in Chicago.)
    I don’t fit the demographic you’re describing, being older, Northern, and the product of a school that didn’t even have sororities. For that matter, I’m not a Wal-Mart shopper, and while I’m Christian, I’m an Episcopalian, which makes me no better than a stinkin’ commie.
    But I’m looking forward to meeting up with other female bloggers in a smaller, more relaxed, friendly venue.
    I realize I’m writing this the night before an African-American is sworn in as President of the United States–and that’s both wonderful and amazing and I couldn’t be more thrilled for this country–but it’s not always about identity politics.

  11. Christine says:

    Not every conference is going to be everything to everyone, and being angry about that seems rather odd to me. For example, I would have loved to go to SXSW, but if looked at from a particular perspective, it could be portrayed as exclusionary because I am not nearly as tech savvy as most there. Is if fair for SXSW to NOT reach out to specifically women who chose to give up careers (in my case, being a physician) and thus fell behind on new technology? Of course it is.
    I say embrace diversity, and allow people to follow their passions. Mata said it better than I, “Maybe there are conferences for mommybloggers, or Jewish bloggers, or transexual bloggers. Or athiest bloggers. Or Christian bloggers. Or pink haired bloggers with tattoos who love shark fishing. ”
    Should they be boycotted/picketed/harassed because they don’t include, say, religious non-committal SAHMommy bloggers who just weaned of Zoloft and want to lose 25 pounds?
    But speaking specifically to your questions (those that didn’t employ patronizing, leading verbiage and were thus too loaded to entertain as serious questions):
    Would I, an irreverent New York Jew transplanted to the Bay area, feel comfortable at Blissdom? Absolutely, without question.
    Really, the concept of diversity needs to expand, and the concept of inclusiveness needs to contract.

  12. Mocha says:

    This is many many things. Political, personal, racial. And for the umpteenth time I’m going to put it out there for the very fact that it’s the lazy response of “Well, I don’t SEE color.” that gets my blood to boiling. When it cools I allow myself to feel the hurt that was really there in the first place.
    Claiming that you didn’t know you were leaving people out? I call bullsh*t on that one.
    The whole issue of exclusionary practice is news to most white, conservative people. (Note: I did NOT say “women”) When faced with a query like this the first reaction is defensiveness. It’s textbook. In fact, I’d be surprised if any other response came. (Though I’d be happy to hear, “Well, we reached out to WOC and didn’t get a good response.”) Then, the person who asks the question is made to EXPLAIN themselves.
    This is a totally backwards way of working but the prevailing exclusionary view is that they didn’t even know they were being exclusive.
    Unless you are consciously bringing together cultures while trolling for followers you will always always omit.
    In researching this after reading your post I found that one of the speakers is one of the Eleven Moms for WalMart. When I tried to see who the others were I found a horribly designed website that didn’t even let me see the other moms. You know what my guess is about what they have in common.
    I see a lot of discussing this in the near future on the eve of swearing in our first African-American president. What an interesting dichotomy of how far we’ve come and how much people are blind to doing things that fail to include.

  13. Sarcastic Mom (Lotus Carroll) says:

    I clicked to comment anonymously (don’t have a moveable type account) but filled in my info – hope it shows.
    I had to comment, because I find it really sad that in an article where you address a concern for diversity (which I think is great, by the way) you summed up at the end by putting a large group of people whom you do not know, and who come from different backgrounds and lifestyles, into a neat little box.
    “post-sorority, married with children version of SATC with blogging”
    Even if many of us are SOME of those things, a large number of us (admins, editors, writers, speakers, attendees, etc) are NOT some of those things (I almost choked laughing at the idea of ever being described as “post-sorority, for example), and even more importantly, we are MORE than those things.
    I am married, and I have a child, and I blog. But there is so much more to my character, my identity, my life. I have been so much more in the past, I am so much more right now, and I will be so much more to come!
    Surely there are things we can learn from one another? I mean, it feels good to connect with women whose lives are similar to mine and learn that I’m not a weirdo… but I love meeting other women who blog, I don’t whether or not “just like me.” In fact, it’s really nice to meet people who have different perspectives because they “walk a different path” than the one I have ended up on. That is how I can keep learning/growing.
    I think the key really is to try to reach out, no matter what, and not let any of the labels stop you.
    On both sides of this issue.
    Am I off base?

  14. Lisa Williams says:

    BlogHer has gone way out of its way to be nonpartisan.
    But certain conservatives just aren’t comfortable being around any liberals, so no accommodations short of total surrender feel “welcoming.”
    If it were my call, BlogHer wouldn’t be nonpartisan: because being a woman and voting Republican is like being a chicken and voting for Colonel Sanders.

  15. Susan Mernit says:

    I agree with Sarcastic Mom that reaching out, outside of labels, is essential in life–and that’s why I also heart MochaMomma’s point about the lack of diversity and inclusion here(and yes, this is not the only conference focused on a niche, etc, so I am mindful of that as I write this).
    At the same time, I somehow want conferences organized by fellow women bloggers to be better and more inclusive than general conferences (I know this is idealistic on my part), so when I don’t feel like I would fit in because of who I am (not because of my interests), my antennae go up.
    I am not attacking this conference, suggesting people should not go and enjoy it, BUT its got some things about it I had to flag.
    I appreciate the informed tone of the discussion here–thanks all for sharing your own experiences and perspectives.

  16. Deb says:

    Lisa Williams: “If it were my call, BlogHer wouldn’t be nonpartisan: because being a woman and voting Republican is like being a chicken and voting for Colonel Sanders.”
    By being nonpartisan BlogHer has the opportunity to unite women on universal issues. For example, the Handmade Toy Alliance united women across party lines to fight for a change to the CPSIA law. There are plenty of other nonpartisan issues that impact all women. I, for one, am thankful that BlogHer doesn’t exclude conservative women. The country is divided almost evenly between Republicans and Democrats, but a united group of women can get a lot done.
    And, yes, I am Republican and a mother. I don’t believe all women should automatically vote for the Democrat even though I understand that many women do because of the choice issue. I happen to be pro-life (seeing the ultrasounds and hearing the heartbeat during my pregnancy made me pro-life), but I still support many other feminist goals. And I am glad that BlogHer doesn’t exclude me.

  17. Christine says:

    I just must address this tangent, because I think it speaks volumes:
    Lisa Williams entire comment was:
    “BlogHer has gone way out of its way to be nonpartisan. But certain conservatives just aren’t comfortable being around any liberals, so no accommodations short of total surrender feel “welcoming.”
    If it were my call, BlogHer wouldn’t be nonpartisan: because being a woman and voting Republican is like being a chicken and voting for Colonel Sanders.”
    Doesn’t she see how her second statement utterly negates her first, and on multiple levels? Who isn’t being inclusive here…Lisa is clearly not comfortable being around people with whom she disagrees and would prefer that BlogHer not include anyone who challenges her belief system.
    But, I’ll bet that Lisa doesn’t think Blissdom is being inclusive enough.
    See the hypocrisy? It’d be laughable if it weren’t so maddening (and no, I am not a Republican).

  18. Mrs. Flinger says:

    Another moderate agnostic speaking at Blissdom. I assumed I was chosen because of my knowledge for a topic, web programming, and never thought twice about saying yes. Any chance to share knowledge is a good reason to gather and to share a drink (vodka, perhaps?) and have some laughs regardless of backgrounds.
    Or maybe I’m foolish to think that. But it’s always been my agenda. I hope you can make it. I think you’d find some people to connect with. I’m certainly open!

  19. Dana says:

    I’m reading this and found this astounding:
    “If it were my call, BlogHer wouldn’t be nonpartisan: because being a woman and voting Republican is like being a chicken and voting for Colonel Sanders.”
    The next time you decide to demonstrate textbook bigotry in the written form please do so without the aid of a ridiculous cliche.
    I’m pretty damn sick and tired of the amount of hate leveled at a woman simply because of her political affiliation. Don’t lecture me on the virtues of diversity until you get that bit of irony in check.

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