Sunday, September 19, 2010

Women all over the web

There are some corners of the web inhabited just by women and that’s just as it should be. We did always did like gathering at the well for a chat and the web is just one big well.
One of the first off the mark was, launched back in 1999 to provide a “glossy, stylish take on matters that women love, like fashion, beauty, celebrity, gossip, going out and staying in”. Then it was a pioneer. Now it’s just part of the Hearst magazine empire. Big, busy and booming, it scores 22 million “unique page views” per month.
The world’s number one women’s site is , launched in 1995 and now NBC-owned. On the day I last looked it was offering advice on how to manage sex when on “vaycay” (vacation) with the kids; and what your ice-cream preference says about your personality. A yen for vanilla, it seems, means you’re more of a risk- taker than those who like chocolate or strawberry. Oh sure.
Big sites like that can be so take-it-or-leave-it. So is there something more local, more ‘niche’, more relevant?
You bet. Try, set up by Aucklanders Geraldine Meo and Raewyn Hamilton (pictured). They’re both in real estate but Wisanow is their outside-of-work baby, set up because they believe strongly that baby-boomer women can have a struggle as they enter what some call “second adulthood”. Once the mid-life stage opens up, many are searching for fresh fields, renewed purpose and meaningful goals. Meo and Hamilton are aiming for a “warm, honest and empathetic forum”.
Packed full of food, travel, health, shopping and culture pages (around 1000 at last count), it’s receiving as much interest from overseas as at home. “They tell us they like that our discussion forums are real and not just about botox and celebrities,” says Hamilton. “And we’re finding that the topics women care about here are the same all over the world.”
Another useful local site:, founded by Katrina Winn as a bid to “add value to women’s lives”. It also contains good, relevant material.
But it’s not easy maintaining such sites. They come and go. But check out, which has been up since 1996 and is thus positively venerable. I think it’s US-based but on the web it’s hard to tell. Not quite as hard-arse as it sounds, it’s leavened with considerable humour. And “bitch” stands for Being In Total Control, Honey. As a life goal that’s hard to argue with.
*This piece is part of my Webmistress page in Next magazine, Oct issue. The mag's not online but you can 'like' it on Facebook page. Look for Next Magazine NZ

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