Women on Listservs

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by Celeste Wincapaw

On-line versions of medical journals are considered credible in a sea of questionable documents published on the World Wide Web (WWW). These are valuable resources, but a feminist look at WWW reveals that equally valuable pieces of information are women's voices.

Personal web pages, chat rooms, or electronic mailing lists are the places to find women's voices on the Web.

Because searches for information about women's bodies often yield many different and often pornographic results, I find that searching for women's health information with the help of other women on Listservs (a group of people with a common interest sending Email to one another through a dedicated server) works best. Listservs give women a way to explore, to evaluate, and to decide which sort of information is useful or credible with other women on-line.

Women can join a group of people to talk about a particular topic, experience, to ask questions of the group, to offer information or just to listen.

As there are many barriers to Internet access, certainly the personal experiences of women who participate in on-line spaces will not be a cross-section of all women. But they might provide a personal experience or feminist critique which is equally useful and sometimes more meaningful than that which is found in a medical journal.

Celeste Wincapaw is the Communications & Networking Strategist at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health and has used on-line spaces while recovering from a disabling illness.

Check out Joan Korenman's list of Women's Health Listservs:

http://www-unix.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/f_hlth.html