Since the 1600's, the women's magazine has been a staple in our lives in one form or another. Back in the day, the two-way communication was one key. Not only could a woman hear from other women around the country, they could communicate with them. Getting a published response from a writer or editor to your letter about Article X was probably one of the few forms of validation that a woman could get. In more modern times, we've expanded the subjects of women's magazines to accommodate all different kinds of women - from the consummate Ladies Home Journal to Ms to Vogue, Essence, and more, and the conversation has gone from two-way to almost universal.
As the internet becomes second-nature to more people and as the number of women online rises, not to mention that print isn't what it used to be, the women's mag is facing a major evolution. While there have been plenty of women's online communities and niche websites, more women are seeing the need to downscale heavily financed and sponsored sites, like iVillage and Oprah, in favor of smaller, friendlier online magazines. Make no mistake - we love iVillage and Oprah, but there isn't exactly a feeling of intimacy on those sites. The intimacy and support thing is important - read this Harvard Medical School study that concludes that social relationships and support are directly influential in a woman's health.
While niche sites (like Mommy or professional sites) provide that intimacy and support, there are so many that a lot of the best get lost. There is a need for more organization of the niches that work together, with main "portals" providing links, reviews, and organization to interweave the different niches. Today, there are more opportunities to support the vast number of other interests and talents of women today, and we're finding out how the different online communities of women need different news and idea dissemination.
As with other websites that aren't specifically targeted at women, we're also learning that working together by linking out and supporting one another is the only way to survive online. That's another new and wonderful twist in this quest for quality women's content online - the global village is making it easier to work together better. That's some real validation.
There are a few sites in particular that are setting the standard for women's online media - check them out, if you haven't already.
Divine Caroline is a great site - it's like a chilled out, prettier BlogHer without the conferences. It is a platform for women to write about what is important to them in a supportive, educational, positive environment. There is a diverse and talented group of women involved, covering a variety of topics.
Wowowow makes me dizzy when I type it. It's worth it though - what a great site for women, "created, run and written by Lesley Stahl, Peggy Noonan, Liz Smith, Joni Evans, Mary Wells, Sheila Nevins, Joan Juliet Buck, Whoopi Goldberg, Julia Reed, Joan Ganz Cooney, Judith Martin, Candice Bergen, Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner, Cynthia McFadden and Marlo Thomas." It is smart, funny, educational and has great conversation going back and forty - check it out!
Is a community of women, founded by Melanie Notkin, who love children but who are - for whatever reason - childless. There are no uncomfortable questions like "why don't you have children?" or assumptions that the childless don't like children - it's all about spoiling, spending time with, and enjoying the children that are in your life. I love that it is appealing to all ages of women, and to those who don't necessarily plan to remain childless, just happen to be at this time. Great site.
We featured A Band of Wives founders, Chris Bronstein and Christina Friedman, back in March of this year, and love it so much that here they are in the Feature section, again. A Band of Wives is a community of women who support each other personally and professionally, give advice, pass along info they learn on their own journeys, and form new bonds. They are based in San Francisco but are expanding into other cities to take the online support into the IRL realm, as well.
So tell us - are there any other fab women's sites we're missing?