July 1996

The Wired World According to Women

by Leslie Regan Shade

Book Review: wired_women: gender and new realities in cyberspace
Edited by Lynn Cherny and Elizabeth Reba Weise
Seal Press, 1996
269 pages
ISBN 1-878067-73-7

It seems that a surfeit of Web sites and books, newspaper and magazine articles, mailing list and Usenet posts, and topics in university course have been devoted to the whole "women and cyberspace" debate. Generally, the debates tend to hinge on two phenomena: 1) the dearth of women on the net; and 2) gender-bending role playing in cyberspace. It's refreshing, then, to read a compilation of articles by women on women's varied experiences in cyberspace, from participation in role-playing games and in collaborative workspaces and female-only forums, to perspectives on harassment and censorship, and on gendered communication online, to the -- cultural construction of computing. Editors Elizabeth Reba Weise and Lynn Cherny are to be credited with compiling an eclectic group of contributors who, through some terrific prose, expose the multifarious uses women make of the Net.

In her introduction, editor Weise discusses her overlapping Internet and RL community in San Francisco and the connections which led to the creation of this book. Emphasizing that her online activities are an adjunct to her RL, not a replacement, she describes it as "a backyard fence, a coffee shop, a favorite hangout, a weekly support group" (p. xv). Indeed, all of the contributors emphasize this intertwinement between their virtual and their real lives. Could it be that women's virtual lives are less obsessive than their male counterparts? That online communications are an appurtenance to RL and face-2-face interactions? [TOC]

Leslie Regan Shade ( ) is in McGill University's Graduate Program in Communications.

Copyright © 1996 by Leslie Regan Shade. All Rights Reserved.

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