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The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media [Paperback]

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett , Holly Baxter
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
Price: £12.08 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2014

As students, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter spent a lot of time laughing at magazine pieces entitled things like '50 Sex Tips to Please Your Man' (particularly the ones that encouraged bringing baked goods into the bedroom). They laughed at the ridiculous ‘circles of shame’ detailing minor weight fluctuations of female celebs, or the shocking presence of armpit hair. And at the articles telling you how to remove cellulite from your arse using coffee granules.

But when they stopped laughing, they started to feel a bit uneasy. Was this relentless hum about vajazzles and fat removal just daft – at worst a bit patronising – or was something more disturbing going on?

Was it time to say NO? They thought so.

So they launched The Vagenda blog in 2012, and now they have written this laugh-out-loud book.

It is a brilliantly bolshy rallying call to girls and women of all ages. Caitlin Moran asked 'How to be a Woman’: The Vagenda asks real women everywhere to demand a media that reflects who we actually are.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Square Peg (1 May 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0224095803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224095808
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A brilliant expose of women's mags and marketing – laugh-out-loud and painfully funny. This gives me hope for women and for feminism and for fun" (Jeanette Winterson Guardian)

"Angry, opinionated and also waspishly funny. The Vagenda deserves to be a bestseller. Because it's worth it" (Caroline Sanderson The Bookseller)

"This is great: warm, witty and wise – an antidote to all of the usual nonsense" (Jenny Eclair)

"Written with energy ... full of droll asides" (Zoe Williams Guardian)

"[Cosslett and Baxter] quickly and expertly show how pervasive sexist attitudes towards women still are today, and, indeed, how much worse they seem to have become in the last few years" (Lesley McDowell Herald)

Book Description

A funny, hard-hitting examination of women and the media, for anyone who has ever had niggling doubts about the sidebar of shame

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is 4th wave? 4 May 2014
The extensive coverage of 4th wave feminism in the press and of the authors of this book would suggest this is going to be the banner publication for the movement. Which makes it doubly disappointing.

I have liked the blog in the past but that relies on a sizable roster of diverse writers whose talents were not on show here, only the writing of the two founders. Unfortunately as both are under 25 and come from average middle class white homes, they have very little new to report, only the same discomfort with so-called women's media that everyone has experienced and has been commented on elsewhere in great detail, complete with waxing anecdotes. Yawn.

The parts that dive into statistics are very sloppy and would have benefited from input by someone who knows about the uses and misuses of statistics. Too often the writers fall into the very same lazy traps they claim they are sending up.

There is a great book to be written by young women about feminism today. This is not it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and incoherent. 4 Sep 2014
By Becky
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am as feminist as they come, and I totally agree that the media of today, especially women's, is very damaging, and that's putting it simply. And so in theory I agree with the content of this book and am totally behind the message. However, I wasn't even able to finish it.
The writing style was offputting: there was loads of slang, which is fine in moderation, but I felt they were making up new words every two sentences that I, a 21 year old, hadn't even heard of. I couldn't see the point of constantly using nonsensical, juvenile words especially when they didn't make the topics at hand any more accessible, but rather the complete opposite. Its intent was obviously to get laughs, but while a few of the lines made me smile, I never once laughed. I'm bemused that so many of the reviews I've read say it's laugh a minute/laugh out loud. I really didn't find it funny at all.
The structure was poor: I understand that a lot of the topics covered naturally overlap, and so there would be common ground in a lot of the chapters. However, even within the specific chapters/topics, there was no strong line of argument and it was very hard to follow the point they were trying to make. Often it read just like a load of individual paragraphs taken from different conversations lumped together, which does nothing to make for a coherent read. There is SO much to say on this topic, and so many vitally important, salient points to be made. I think for a feminist book that has reached the mainstream, it's so important that it manages to state its arguments clearly and convincingly, because so many readers will come at it with a sceptical and cynical viewpoint.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nails media sexism 19 Aug 2014
I bought this after reading a review by Germaine Greer, who was rudely dismissive of it. Her views didn’t tally with my own experience of the Vagenda blog so I bought it myself to find out. It’s biting, witty and really calls out women’s magazines for the infantilised and mean-spirited trash they are. To me its strength lies in discussing very eloquently how the unequal portrayal of men and women in the media actually impacts women’s lives. With humour. I’m slightly older than the authors, but I found such relief in reading that I’m not alone in my bewildered rage at the crap mags and the portrayal of women in the media in general.

I think this book has attracted unfair criticism. Some readers seem to expect it to be a trailblazing, leading publication of fourth wave feminism. But as the front cover says, it’s a ‘Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media” – it doesn’t claim to be a modern day feminist’s bible. It’s the experiences and insights of these two young women. A couple of negative reviews have also cited the authors’ age. Surely the fact they grew up with the very media they are discussing gives them an informed viewpoint from which to write? Everyone has the right of criticism, but the irony of shouting down these women for speaking out against sexism and the lack of female voices in the media seems to be lost on some feminists.
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Topical, funny, inspiring read 1 May 2014
By LouiseB
I am a fan of the Vagenda blog and loved this book. It challenges the way you think about women's magazines, makes you laugh, makes you angry and makes you want to change things for the better.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Stuff 6 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fascinating read. Loved it. Brilliant keystone text for 4th wave feminism. If you've been part of #everydaysexism, #shoutingback or Project Unbreakable, this is a must for your reading list. It is an excellent jumping off point for getting into today's feminist debates. Pitched with plenty of anger and feminist bile this is not a text for academics (although there are enough of those already on the market) but a book for any modern woman who has been made to feel 'inadequate' by marketing, advertising and the western media. It's not the whole story and there is more that needs to be said on this topic (especially by non-cis, non-straight and non-white women) but that does not lessen the power of this book's observations about the roles women are cast into in the current western world, even those with straight/white/cis privilege.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A sad, angry
A sad, angry, funny, shocking polemic. A must have for women feeling the pressures of modern life. Makes me feel vindicated and not alone when I feel angry about this bs too
Published 24 days ago by Ms. R. Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!
This is everything I've ever thought about womens mags and media all in one place.
Best read so far this year.
Published 2 months ago by Beth allen
1.0 out of 5 stars Unintentionally hilarious!
As a hater of all things feminist I often read books such as this to have a good old laugh. Feminist literature is often hysterically funny and never less than amusing but this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Wright
1.0 out of 5 stars Guess you can't escape patriarchy
A book intending to criticize the objectification and sexulaisation of women in the media, using a naked woman's body on the cover to sell more.
Published 3 months ago by Victoria Steinland
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, educating and brilliant!
The F word is for some reason very offensive to most people but we need feminism. There are still. So many inequalities women face and difficulties because of how female bodies are... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Charlie O'Connor
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and thought-provoking
I wasn't expecting this book to make me laugh so much! It's a brilliant look at the nonsense of women and girls magazines, from the cliches and contradictions to the blatant sexism... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Thumbelina
4.0 out of 5 stars sadly all true stuff
Really enjoyed book even though it was relentless in it's pace. Would be great if the media did take notice of its content and stop repeating the same old photos and articles.
Published 5 months ago by KT
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