Review: The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media – Holly Baxter, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett.

I don’t really read feminist books, and it’s not because I disagree with what most of them say. For example, when I read some on feminist issues RE: my dissertation, a lot of it was aggressive, ludicrous and just generally disagreeable (I probably chose wrongly, though).

But, the reason I read The Vagenda is because I saw Holly and Rhiannon at Edinburgh Book Festival and liked them. Simple as that. I liked the way they spoke about feminism and various issues, I like the way they dealt with someone who raised the “but people are people” argument with an open dialogue, not a feisty put down.

You may finish this and fear you can never enjoy a magazine again (they did note at the event that Elle actually asked them for advice on how to be better, so I’d say they’re a good shout), but the reason I like it is because I laughed. I agreed so heavily with a lot of what they said, but they made me laugh along the way.

They said that laughter is a way to engage people, especially youngsters who fear speaking up or asking questions. They’re more comfortable to talk about serious issues if it’s not clad in a super-serious exterior. I can see why they succeed in schools where some people I’d seen before hadn’t.

I’m in a hurry, and there’s no point in breaking this down point by point. There were some passing comments that were a bit overly judgmental, and a few that people might turn some people off (I know flippant comments with other feminist stuff have really put me off or made me feel odd. See: Caitlin Moran), but I think that this book would be good for teen girls to see the hypocrisy in magazines without it being a lecture, if that makes sense?

I don’t know. I really enjoyed their talk, so I’m reading it from the point of view of relating it to a lot of what they said and spoke about. But in general I think A+ feminist book. It’s crass at times, it cuts the shit and is good for younger girls too.

Hmmm. I avoided it before I heard the talk because I was worried it would go down the same route as others I’d read before, but yeah. Rambling.

You can read my feature on their Edinburgh Book Festival event here.


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