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The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media
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The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  553 ratings  ·  83 reviews

Obsessed over your body’s ‘problem areas’?

Killed an hour on the Sidebar of Shame?

Wondered whether to try ‘50 Sex Tips to Please Your Man’?

Felt worse after doing any of the above?

Holly and Rhiannon grew up reading glossy mags and, like most women, thought of them as just a bit of fun. But over time they started to feel uneasy – not just about magazines, but ab
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Vintage Digital (first published March 6th 2014)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Victoria Sadler
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
My full review is up on Huffington Post of this book so I don't want to replicate it here but I found this book patronising at best, offensive at worst. It gives little attention to women who aren't white or straight, it runs down women they don't agree with eg Kim Kardashian, women who like lacy knickers, and plays fast and loose with facts.

This book brings nothing new to this subject, which has been covered better before, and in this age, surely the issue for the Vagenda generation is the inte
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's a rare thing for a book to make me laugh aloud, and fear for the safety/sanity of men and women alike.
They write like my friends talk, they don't shy away from rude stuff, they swear like real women in the real world swear.
The conclusion is rightly harrowing. The best entertaining but very serious writing on this topic I've found. Will be insisting everyone I know reads it...
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I came across 'Vagenda' in the library whilst hunting down Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution. I opened it and found it so readable and entertaining that I finished it within a day. As it is based on a blog (which I’ve read intermittently), this isn’t surprising. I wasn’t expecting ground-breaking feminist theory, as that isn’t what the book is for. It’s a litany of amusingly-expressed criticism of women’s magazines and their business model of making us feel fat and ugly in order to pu ...more
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: feminism
The tone is patronising and the view of women and the media they consume narrow. It's repetitive and offers nothing new (models are airbrushed, editors are influenced by fashion and cosmetics industry PRs, dieting advice is dangerous...). The book ignores new media completely and looks mostly at Cosmopolitan and other women’s monthlies and lad mags like Loaded, making it sound like it was written in the 1990s.

Something I found particularly problematic was the way the authors criticise Cosmopoli
Anke Tymens
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A good read, an interesting read, often stating the obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. Sadly it's not offering many solutions to the issues it summarises so well.
This is a great introduction to feminist issues in the media, and especially in women's magazines. At times laugh-out-loud hilarious, and others sombre and serious, The Vagenda was great to read as a young woman trying to make sense of the shit magazines try to feed us.
After reading this, I'm not sure I'll ever look at magazines the same way. I feel weirdly guilty about the collection of Seventeen magazines under my bed, and my recent Victoria's Secret haul. I simultaneously feel more educated
Merima Smajic
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was entertaining and informative but I admit the more I read the less the rating I was contemplating being generous with, became.
To combat girls being looked down upon by 'morally loose men' let us become.... Morally loose our selfs.
I mean what else is a sentence like this supposed to inspire:
'Perhaps it's time to stop using the word 'slut' altogether, because if we want women to make their own sexual choices without fear of society's judgement, then the word shouldn't really exist at
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I give this 4*s because I think it would be great for young adults. It's pretty hilarious in places and some of it was still shocking to me (the extent of the rape normalisation in university publications for instance). It was as someone else said quite 'young'. I don't see that as a bad thing. I'm in my 30s and still got something out of it but would say it's a great book to buy a teen or someone in their 20s if they're new to this kind of thing.
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I have to be honest, I think this book suffers for the fact that I read it straight after Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism. Whilst Everyday Sexism was a hard-hitting read, examining sexism from street harassment, through workplace discrimination, media impact, women in the professional world, and more, with Bates supporting her arguments with referenced facts and copious reports made to the Everyday Sexism Project, The Vagenda felt like it suffered in comparison, making a few unsupported statements
Katey Lovell
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I first started this I loved it - witty and yet powerful, fact-filled yet an easy read. It made me think once more about the power the media hold over us, and how women are portrayed in magazines, adverts and on TV. However, the further I got into this book the less I enjoyed it - I don't know if that was because the same ground was being covered or if it was because the tone changed in later chapters, becoming more subjective. Still, a thought-provoking feminist read with a touch of humour ...more
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 someon
Bro Gan
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Having attended Rhiannon and Holly's event at the Edinburgh Book Festival I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I found it incredibly patronising and extremely heteronormative. Whilst I agree completely with the premiss of the book - women's magazines are pretty shitty - I don't enjoy the way in which they've approached the subject. They complain that magazines and the media make women feel stupid (something worthwhile complaining about) however, they treat their readers in a similar ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
The Vagenda first sprang into being back in 2012 when Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Coslett began a blog, borrowing the term 'vagenda' from a broadsheet article about 'women in the workplace with a hidden agenda'. There are many, many, oh so many portmanteau terms which burst into life via the pages of magazine (my personal bugbear is staycation - why not just say you're on holiday?) but Baxter & Coslett felt that 'vagenda' was 'both pleasing to the ear [and] perfectly encapsulated the aims of ...more
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am really wanting to like this book, however, I'm struggling. Lots of great sentiments but the tone is pretty patronising. The agency is completely removed from the individual and I am left feeling like an idiot just because I sometimes read Glamour and Grazia. Do the authors really think that any one who ever picks up a woman's mag automatically feels compelled to run out and get botox to please 'their man'?!? I read these magazines as a bit of light relief particularly on long train journeys ...more
Amy Barratt
Jun 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book - it's interesting and very thought provoking. It's clear that the authors are very passionate about the topic of women's glossy magazines, and the way women are portrayed in the media. It was funny in places too, perhaps not 'laugh out loud', but still. I didn't find the tone of the book to be particularly patronising, it is, however, quite vulgar in places (but hey if the shoe fits..).

Overall, I enjoyed The Vagenda. There is nothing ground breaking or revolutionary
Sharon Gardner
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think this book is perfect for young women who are negotiating the minefield of contemporary media. The authors of this book are saying we are on your side and you really don't have to take this crap any more. I gave up reading women's magazines in my 20s because I found them depressing, but luckily I didn't have to deal with pornofied music videos, mainstream comics doing rape jokes and sites like Uni lad. If you're a young woman read it and feel empowered. If you know a young woman buy this ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read The Vagenda. I wish I had read the Vagenda when I was 13 years old, before I started taking an interest in my sister's fashion magazines. I wish my sister had read the Vagenda before she started collecting and reading fashion magazines. I wish my parents had read the Vagenda before they let my sister spend her allowance money on fashion magazines.
If you've ever wondered whether you're going crazy because of the seemingly endless contradictory bullshit thrown at you about fe
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Everyone needs to read this book. I'm currently sitting on a train and want to pass a copy to every other passenger so they can start immediately. Though absolutely everything will have flaws at points, The Vagenda is an incredible summary and discussion on some of the biggest and most important issues women are forced to face daily in the 21st century. A perfect introduction to the necessity of feminism, for misogynists to Misandrists, and everyone in between.
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library
I love this book! So much better than "how to be a woman": It causes laughter and anger in the same sentence.

I would personally have edited the book so the hardest-hitting (for me) chapters towards the end were perhaps cushioned by humour, as it left me feeling more depressed than inspired, but your mileage (and triggers) may vary.
Lisa Edwards
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Don't let the slightly breathless, blog-style writing of this book belie its serious content - a young person's view of women in the media. Knowing that my weekly Grazia goes for a 'distress-in-a-dress' cover headline has made me not want to read it this week. I've already given up on Red magazine because it made me feel shit about my life. This book examines why.
Andrea Knowles
The style of writing seems to be to aimed at younger people and the book would make a really great gift for a fledgling feminist. I must admit that although I laughed out loud several times, the book wasn't quite insightful as I'd've hoped.
This book is necessary. I grew up in the eighties and I thought feminism was self-evident. I have become increasingly dismayed at the ground lost since then. This book teaches another generation not to take any shit.
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014, gender-studies
Didn't finish, not going to.

Patronising, crude, vulgar, factually inaccurate, repetitive, badly researched, badly referenced, and badly written.

There's better material online. For free.
Typically hilarious and no less intelligent, The Vagenda restored my faith in (some of) humanity and gave me a few laughs along the way.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AMAZING. Pointing out all the things I have suspected or realized, but didn't have the capacity to voice. Yes. Thank you. :')
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I have always been of the opinion that both women's and men's magazines are wrong in every aspect. It has always been about making you feel ashamed for who you are and that you are not good enough and selling you things that you don't need and don't work. I have not read them for years due to this. The history of media doing this was very interesting to read however and most shocking aspect is that the sexism and shaming continues today.
I felt that the way this book is written is just on the ri
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was quite informative, it served its purpose well covering a variety of issues that women face and how the media plays on stereotypes and bad gender bias. It is more of a starter book for someone interested in learn about feminist based topics, however, if you are slightly more knowledgeable on the subject, you may find this book slightly repetitive.
On a plus side, I did at some points in the book to be quite humorous and very relatable. I've even underlined a few points made in the b
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenage girls, young women, anyone interested in feminism
Shelves: feminism
I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was funny and thought-provoking. I am completely new to the realm of feminist literature and theory, so I understand that for more experienced readers, this book perhaps doesn't offer anything new. But as a newcomer with only her own thoughts and experiences to work with, I found this book a good starting point to provoke topics for debate and thinking. It's certainly a book I'd recommend for teenage girls and young women, as the chapters on body ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, and took photos of a few pages that really struck me (especially about body image). It really highlights the problematic culture that we live in that so shapes our lives (particularly women), encouraging women not to take up so much space in the world. There are mentions of social media, but thankfully it’s not blamed for the content and the cultural expectations that are shared on there - years of magazine culture - emerging around the time that women got the vote - ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I would say that this book is definitely a beginning into the magazine and media industry and how this feeds into a women's self worth, convincing us that we are not enough, we should buy certain products, be a certain size and wear particular clothes/underwear etc. It didn't contain much in terms of academic facts or studies and it was a little repetitive. In saying that, I did enjoy it and laughed out loud many times. The message is loud and clear and i definitely wont be buying into magazines ...more
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Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is a columnist, feature writer and editor for The Guardian newspaper. In 2012 she co-founded The Vagenda, a feminist blog which was published in book form by Vintage. In 2014 Rhiannon was short-listed for a press award for young journalist of the year. As a freelancer she has written for publications as wide ranging as Elle, Stylist, the New Statesman, The Independent and Ti ...more

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