02 August 2006

In which we thank our sponsors

I know I said that I had written all I was going to write about BlogHer. This is tangentially related, but it is really just a typical daily Suebobian rant that happens to mention BlogHer. See how tricky I am?

Sometimes I am amazed at the stupidity I will sit through. The Evil Empire (the world's largest maker of software) put on a short presentation on the second morning of BlogHer that went down like the Titanic, and just about as quickly.

I have read bits about it all over the internet - that it was the marketing loser move the year, pretty much. I agree.

Let me set the scene: about 400 bleary BlogHers tired from a night of non-stop partying filled a vast, shopworn hotel ballroom, slamming bagels and trying not to spill coffee on their laptops as they struggled with spotty internet connectivity.

Two young, seemingly identical women (model-thin, skin-tight jeans, high-heels, long dark hair) in "Be Jane" t-shirts took the stage and began chirping (they chirped! I swear! Chirping!) about home improvements and this thing...I guess a website, but I wasn't really listening because my tablemates were so funny...called Be Jane that was going to be for all us women who were too scared to go into Home Depot and ask the guy in the orange apron what size PVC pipe we needed. Because he wouldn't be nice to us if we went there because after all everyone knows women don't do home improvements because they are intimidated by home improvements and home improvements are hard and you might, like, break a nail. Or something like that.

This was all said faster and faster, with voices gaining pitch and speed until the two "Janes" sound like the movie effect of reel-to-reel tape fast-forwarding.

The room regarded them with first amusement, then disdain, then just ignored them to keep blogging and talking to the women around them, you know, the ones who actually have a brain in their head and make sense.

Let me take this giant turd-in-a-punchbowl apart for you because no one else has put on the mental latex gloves to want to go there.

First of all "Be Jane". Has no one at The Really Big Software Company ever read any feminist history? I mean, "Jane," come ON, people.

When I heard the name, I first thought that it was perfectly reasonable that underground abortion providers were coming back, given the political climate, but I couldn't figure why they were printing t-shirts, since secrecy had to be the essence of the whole thing.

Second, if you are going to come to where the smart women are, treat us like smart women. Ask us to work for you or comment on you or let us do some demos. Don't just slap your site up there as if we are going to fall down and say "At last! NOW I can do home improvement! And I had been waiting for permission!"

Because, third, it is 2-freaking-thousand-oh-six, people. Women do home improvements. Women go to Home Depot. Women can converse freely with the men making $8 an hour in the orange aprons just as easily as they do with the attorneys in their courtrooms, with the other crew in the cockpit and with the troops under their command. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Fourth, are home improvement projects that women do so significantly different than those that men do that women need a whole website set aside for them? Aren't there OTHER really fine home improvement sites that fill the same niche?

I mean, I argued vociferously (or at least wordiferously) for BlogHer to be all-women (and since I have been there, I have relented a bit), but I think a forum where you are hanging your whole soul out for everyone to see is a bit different than a forum where you are learning to hang wallpaper.

Fifth, when you visit the site (which I had the misfortune to do), you can "Meet the Janes."

Which wouldnt be a problem, except the Janes are dolled up in these cute little high-heeled work boots - see, they are rugged suede just like mens boots, but high-heeled, so the gals like them too! Way Cute!

No, Way Gag.

This is probably the thing that stuck in my craw most. High-heeled work boots. Total insult. What kind of idiots do they take us for? Were so stupid that we will climb up a ladder to rewire the attic wearing four-inch heels?

Even the most fashion-conscious among us might remember to slip on a nice pair of non-skid athletic shoes while working around the house, right? So as not to KILL oneself while installing crown molding. Grrrr.

I appreciate that The Really Big Software Company sponsored part of BlogHer. I would be interested to learn about opportunities to make money for them and off of them. I might even be interested in a home improvement website. But please, folks, before you come to meet us, do your homework. Don't make us hate you more than we already do because we have to use your other, barely functional products.

Ironic footnote: This was written in Word on a PC machine without punctuation, because I have to transfer it to a Mac later and don't want all my punctuation to turn into weird symbols. So I will add the punctuation after I put it on my Mac. Another convenient feature from the fine folks who brought us Be Jane.

BTW, Linkateria is back, now with some fine bloggers I have just discovered lately.

And if you haven't checked out the "Red Stapler Project" Photos of your favorite bloggers, here they are.


Anonymous said...

lolool...honestly, I couldn't even figure out what the fuck those women were talking about. I heard their little chipmunk voices say something about home improvement and that was about it.

I just knew that I didn't pay $258 to hear about anything of the sort so I kind of tuned out. But your assessment is hilariously on-target.

As for the heels, there IS one person who does do such things in heels and that is Hildie from "Trading Spaces" She looks asinine and though I don't watch it anymore, I used to be on the edge of my seat waiting for her to bust ass in her 4 inch Manolos. So stupid.

super des said...

I can't even wear 4 inch heels to do anything, let alone house-fixing projects. By which I mean I call my husband / father / brother / male coworker to do it for me. But jeez, I only wear my three inch heels for that! Guh.

p.s. there are still weird symbols.

Anonymous said...

At least they didn't bring those cute pink "for ladies" toolkits I've seen sold at stores. I may have had to throw a pink hammer at someone.

ClubMom has a link on their site for a workshop for women at Home Depot. It is for creating your own "active Space"-i.e. putting up shelving without having to ask a man for assistance. I think I might go, just for the blog material. And then use the 10% off discount to buy something shiny for myself.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you for this! You've articulated all of my thoughts on the "Janes" and more.

Boy the MSN marketing folks really missed the target here.

Fourth Breakfast

Anonymous said...

I think I love you.

And, heeled workboots? I'm going to file those right under "Tom Cruise and other nonsense."


Debbie said...


effing hilarious.

and that doesn't even touch how I feel about the rest of this post. delicious.

wish I coulda been there... sigh.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Nice!

As a woman...a woman who owns a house without a man...a woman who does her own home improvements...a woman who even works in the construction business...I have to say I'm VERY glad I slept in late that day, went down to grab a donut, and then went right back to bed.

What? Huh? I didn't do that. I don't know what you're talking about.


Miguelita said...

IWNABH (I was not at Blog Her - which I am saying so often this week I need an acronym), but I would have hated this as well. I am far more handy around the house with tools than my husband. I am one of four kids and my Dad taught all of us how to use all of his tools properly.
I dont need no stinkin' website.

SUEB0B said...

Izzy - Hildie is on TV, so she is practically fictional. I am sure she has some producer making her take off her Reeboks.

Des - I am kind of a home repair spaz myself. But I can arc weld. Does that count?

Elizabeth - I'm all for lighter-weight tools like drills, but mmmm pink - no.

Anon - you are welcome.

Kerri Anne - you're not so bad yourself (blushing)

Deb - Isn't Suebobian in the dictionary by now? I think it should be.

Chase - owns a house? Does home repairs? AND makes a decent mojito? Can I move in?

Michele - my point exactly. You don't need a set to be able to pour concrete or install a light fixture, and the fact that they would imply that people still think that in 2006 blows my mind.

Anonymous said...

That was BY FAR the most offensive part of the conference. Some of us actaully walked out of the room.

Listening to those "girls" was like nails on a chalkboard.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't even there and I am completely bugged. Amen to your post, Sister.
I own my own house and have no man to help me. I go to the "man store" (Home Depot) as my son calls it very often and most times help others find what they need while I'm there. I agree, they need to do their research before they run their mouths.

Anonymous said...


oh man.

spotted elephant said...

Wow. Maybe next year's Blogher can have a forum on the fact that crap like this still happens.

Chantal said...

At least the high heeled workboots can come in handy. When you go into Home Depot and don't know what you're talking about, you can look cute, shake your pretty little ass and maybe, giggle, snag a husband of the man in the orange apron!

(Gag. @@)

Anonymous said...

I love your red stapler project.

As for the home improvement - excellent job breaking it down. I wasn't there but I am completely disgusted with the presentation as well. And Microsoft!

Unfortunately, it's the Home Depot guys who also need a clue about what women can do. As well as car mechanics, and clerks in auto-parts stores. Because the way a lot of women are treated from the get-go, is just plain disrespectful I tell you.

Anonymous said...

i was sitting up toward the front with a side-view of the Jane's. i didn't really listen to them, because I was too distracted by the fact that no one else was listening to them, but they just kept going on and on and on about whatever it is they were talking about, and i kept wondering: DON'T THEY GET IT? NOT INTERESTED.

Donna said...

SueBob, you crack me up! Best description/commentary of the lame Janes I've read yet. (No, I didn't pay attention to them either -- too busy trying to get connected so I could live blog.)

Heather B. said...

1) You said that way better than I could have. Because when I was too busy with the bleeding ears and whatnot to actually process the asinine things coming out of their mouths. I seriously wanted to cry

2) You are too freaking cute and I'm loving those red stapler photos even though I look rather hellish and well the red wine/red stapler/pink shirt/pink bag thing I had going on. I know, WTF??

3) I also wanted to mention that I distinctly remember my mother doing the carpentry on our house in 1994 and it seems to be standing perfectly fine to this day. Which might cause the Janes to fall on their cellulite free butts in shock. But yes, it's true. A woman! Doing carpentry! In 1994. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

The only thing more offensive to me was the size XXS condom shirt in my Blogher bag. All other shwag rocked, but I left that t-shirt in the hotel room, b/c really...why would I want my 6 year old wearing a sexy condom shirt?

Sweetney - AHA! That's my favorite pic - hair stapling ... that's great. It's like hairspray, but er ... not.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking the stage next year. I'm gonna dress like a drag queen or Pamela Anderson (Oops! Same thing!) and sing:

I'm a Barbie girl
in a Barbie world
Life is so fantastic
when you're made of plastic.

Please begin practicing your applause now.

Anonymous said...

Fucking Perfect Julie. Seriously you just wrote what I was thinking during the entire thing. I had the unique perspective to have been sitting at a table with a bunch of people whom I hadn't met yet and watching their reactions was priceless.

The actual presentation, timing, perkiness and cutsieness were what bothered me the most as someone who has given many a presentation. Yikes.

Christina said...

Bravo! I love this!

I would have written something about the Barbie twins, but I felt I couldn't do it justice since I tuned out after the first sentence or two. I was far too busy hacking into the hotel's network to try to gain access.

j.sterling said...

those fucking chicks were SO annoying! good god i just wanted to shoot lazer darts at them! THEIR VOICES! *dies*.. i was so fucking happy once they shut the fuck up and got off the stage.. talking to us like we're high school girls waiting to start our periods or something. stupid whores. lol

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I missed that. The only way I'm going next year is if they play some damn music in the evenings and/or if somebody promises to get naked.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I'm getting around to my own post that includes the Microsoft misstep along with the rest of Saturday's events. Who on earth did they think we all were? At my table, we listened politely for about 30 seconds and then we were all, "So anyway..." and resumed our previous conversations. Bad, bad, bad.

SUEB0B said...

Sarah - walking out - why didn't I think of that? Oh, because Liz from Mom 101 and Christina from a Mommy Story and Jennster were cracking me up so bad.

Survivin - it's either go to the Man store or pay someone $300 to put in a light switch...

One Smarmy - I live to entertain.

Spotted - the women at BlogHer don't need the seminar. THEY GOT IT. But we are going to have a Microsoft dunk tank.

Lily - don't let the bastards grind you down. Go where the nice, respectful people are - because they are out there.

Chantal - I bet you could kick some serious ass in those boots, too.

Sanders - yes, I was hoping for a wet tshirt contest in those tiny condom t's, since that's about all they could possible be good for.

Jess, Donna - I'm glad you can back me up on this.

Heather - shut up, you look GORGEOUS!

Holly - I have a bunch of ridiculous downloads of that song in a bunch of languages, including Bart Simpson singing it in German. So I'm ready.

TB- You are far too cool a person to have been exposed to that. And I'm sure you are much better at home improvements than them. How are the floors looking?

Jennster, Christina - I'm only glad you were there to cheer me up.

Amanda - I'm all about the DJ. I was wondering this year...

Jane - I wonder if there was one person there who appreciated it? I don't think so.

stampydurst said...

SueBob, Missed their actual presentation, but watched them walking around in their matchind denim embroidered shirts and just KNEW nothing good could come of it. How insulting! Next year, the Swingline people should just have some handsome men in old, well-worn levis and tight white t-shirts roaming around asking if anyone wants to learn how to drill. Now that is a lesson I'd be more receptive to.

Kentucky Girl said...

HAH. That's funny, some people are really clueless.

But uhm, I'd wear 4" heeled workboots. But I'm weird that way. heh

Unknown said...

Seriously. They are lucky isn't wasn't cocktail hour. I would have heckled and thrown things.

Didn't MS esteemed leader just do something amazing with his wealth? Couldn't they have sent him? I mean, it was "how has blogging changed your world" wasn't it?

I had being talked to and looked at by corps like a bimbo. These companies need to wise up and realize it's not 1950 and I don't find home improvement blogs for women all that important to rate a KEYNOTE speach by cheerleaders.


Rant over.

Anonymous said...

Ya know...this reminds me of the first time I worked on a Habitat for Humanity site. (I loves me some Habitat!) They had hats for everyone to wear on site. Denim baseball-style hats with hammers on the front. I really liked them. Then they pulled out one with a pink flowerpot and some blooms coming out of it...you now...for the "wimmins" in the group. And I thought, "Oh HELL no!" So, basically people still think that women who will voluntarily work in the hot sun and while HANGING FROM THE ROOF TRESTLES will only wear a hat if it's got a pink flower on it?? It is to laugh, people! I chose the hammers. I hate being treated like a delicate flower in an arena where there is no room for a delicate flower. You dig?

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU. I am so glad I'm not the only one who walked out. I ended up in the lobby having a real conversation, which calmed me down a lot. Great post. You made me laugh and you totally nailed it!!!

Anonymous said...

Dudes. We were sitting at the table in front of the Janes and the Microsoft lackey, and during the Janes "presentation", the Microsoft lackey actually came over and THREW a huge stack of Janes brochures all over our table. As if there weren't already a shitload of them sitting there.

As if we actually GAVE a rat's ass.

If ever there were a time I'd wished to have my laptop with me, it was then. I would have live-blogged that shit so we could all laugh ourselves silly (instead of feeling the urge to barf).

Sue - fabulous post. Thank you.

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