Flying into Austin last week I could only think of one thing…..how has it been a whole year since SXSW2014?
This would be my 3rd time presenting at SXSW Interactive and I have to admit that it was my favorite topic so far. My proposal, which was based on quite a few observations I made last year, titled “Confident Women: Ditch the Bitch Stigma” had been accepted for a Core Conversation. This meant that rather than me talking from a stage, I’d be creating conversation starters and then guiding the room in a discussion of the points.
The session had been marked “HOT” due to all the interest so they implemented an RSVP session and there still ended up being a rather long wait list line, we seriously needed a much bigger room! Everyone who did make it into the room was engaged, thoughtful and intelligent which made for a wonderfully lively discussion.
The energy of the room was palpable with raw enthusiasm for a discussion about confidence, what a bitch really is and the experiences women have had navigating both of those topics in their professional and personal lives. The women in the room were very obviously eager to share their experiences, support each other and talk about solutions. We weren’t able to get to everything on my outline because the discussion was so impassioned, everyone (including me) was disappointed that we didn’t have more time.
I’m thinking about submitting for a 4 hour workshop (Update: I did! You can check it out here) next year so we have more time for participation and hopefully more space for more people. Considering the strong interest and participation (and that this is not an issue that will be disappearing anytime soon) I think it has a good chance of being accepted. I’m hoping that attendees’ took a few moments to fill out the survey so SXSW has concrete proof of interest. You can see the Storify I put together here and I included a few of my favorite tweets at the end of this post.
— Shyla Gardner (@ShylaMaeGardner) March 14, 2015
I did a bit of a run-by interview with Rachel Krantz, the features editor for Bustle Magazine. One of the downsides of Southby Serendipity is that it can be a bit cramped for time trying to juggle everything that’s going on! But our quick conversation resulted in the fun article, 7 Ways to Ditch the Bitch Stigma and I’m working on another feature article for them now. The delightful Mia & Julie had asked me to tell a story for BedPost Confessions again, as I did last year, but this time they’d been asked to be an official part of SXSW so it was scheduled Sunday afternoon on the corner stage in the exhibition hall. Considering this sexuality themed event is usually held in the evening with cocktails at a local bar this was quite a difference in setting and it showed. There was a good turn-out but it seemed that the audience wasn’t quite sure how to respond to the stories being told. I can understand it, after a weekend of seeing presentations addressing sexism and respect for diversity, laughing at a heartfelt story about finding your mothers vibrator after she’s passed away can feel a little awkward (though it was an excellent story Julie!) Rather than the traditional method of reading a piece of writing out loud, I have a more freestyle approach. In honor of the theme of Sex & Tech I shared a few anecdotes about how tech platforms have changed interactions in the kink world during my previous career. All of the storytellers and moderators did a great job at trying to keep the energy in the room up.
The fabulous team from DiG Festival was in attendance so it was great to get to hang out with them. I’ll tell you what, Aussies know how to have a good time! Plus they introduced me to Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian dining experience where the food service circle the room with a dozen types of meat so when you put a little green card right side up they’ll bring all that meat right to your plate. My favorite was the bacon wrapped filet mignon, which is just as decadent and delicious as it sounds.
I didn’t get to as many sessions as I was hoping to, though frankly I was a little disappointed with some of the presentations I did attend. The best one by far was the panel “An End to Brogramming? How Women Are Shaping Tech” which kept going even through a false fire alarm. The women on that panel shared their experiences passionately and encouragingly. I was glad to see women/tech in so many presentations at the very least. The closing keynote guy was a douche. I guess it’s tradition for him to do kind of a summary of the event, but when he made a joke about being disappointed with the lower number of drunks with no acknowledgement of last year’s tragedy he totally lost me. I know its hip to hate on SXSW now, but the event really is a spectacular way to meet people, learn from experts on a wide variety of topics, and get inspired in a major way. My experience has gotten better every single time.
— Brittany Ramos (@BrittanyNRamos) March 14, 2015