Book Club: Holly Baxter & Rhiannon Lucy Coslett 'The Vagenda'

by - Monday, August 15, 2016

When I was a Journalism student, it was well and truly on my bucket list to write for The Vagenda. A light-hearted, witty blog that treated feminism both seriously and with a hefty dose of salt where necessary, it was, and still is, in my opinion one of the best publications that sprung out of the new wave of feminism. Which is no mean feat considering just how many fem-focused blogs and blog features have sprung up in the past couple of years *cough, hi*.

As for why it's taken me two years to properly get my hands on this book, I have no real excuse, other than the fact that I've been consuming most of my feminist critique online rather than in book form. Why I never wrote for them though, I do have an answer - they were just so on it that any time I thought of a pitchable idea they had already well and truly nailed it already. Such quality of writing means that 'The Vagenda' in book form is very quickly likeable and familiar - so many incidents and media dissections will have you sighing in agreement or shouting 'yasss!' like you're watching a Broad City marathon with your best gal pals. No matter how depressing the sentiments, there is a definite comfort in the words of two women who acknowledge the fact that being a feminist is not without it's struggles and contradictions - hey, it is TOTALLY acceptable to be a make-up junkie and a sassy baddass feminist.

However, despite it's positives, I will admit that as a Vagenda superfan, the book wasn't quite as essential as I may have hoped. I adore these girls and everything they stand for but I do think in this case, the format is lent much better to a blog than a book - pop culture moves so swiftly that even just two years after publication, some of the humour feels a little dated. Maybe it's just my millenial lapse of concentration, but despite even my most fervent enthusiasm, I found that after a few chapter in one sitting, it became a little overwhelming and repetitive - not the fault of the girls writing, more the fact that a lot of the chapters have some overlap and the approach is actually quite academic. If you're writing a gender or media based essay at University, this book could well be your best pal, but it may not be suited to whiling away a lengthy trainride. Not a criticism at all, but more of a reflection on how the book was presented instore - kind of like a memoir rather than the critical text that it is.

So a definite recommend, but maybe only for those who are really interesting in media theory and feminism rather than just feminism itself. I would LOVE to see a reprint that tackled social media or even just a collation of some of the great content from the site, a la Rookie. It's a shame there doesn't seem to be anything going up on their blog anymore, but I will continue to follow both Holly and Rhiannon's journalistic careers - both writers explore feminism in a way that is totally appropriate for today. To be honest, I'm glad we live in a climate where books like The Vagenda even get to see the light of day - proof that we're moving in the right direction for equality surely?

See here for a link to my favourite ever article on The Vagenda, a feminist look at Geordie Shore...

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