Interview: Vagenda creators Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Cosslett launch A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media
The feminist bloggers are attending both the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Book Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Feminist heroines or ‘smug’ and ‘anti-women’? The editors of hugely popular website The Vagenda are used to raising eyebrows. Now the blog has spawned a book – The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media.
Fed up of simply laughing at women's magazines that tell you how to get rid of cellulite using coffee granules or how you should be pleasing your man, Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Cosslett decided to start their own version in 2012. ‘It was literally an overnight success - the media were covering it within the week and we were invited to debate the editor of Cosmopolitan,’ says Baxter. The two women had been friends since university and Baxter was living in Cosslett's airing cupboard – like a feminist Harry Potter – fruitlessly searching for media jobs. ‘We set it up because we had nothing to lose,’ she says frankly. The editors who didn't hire them back in 2012 must be kicking themselves.
Since then, they have collaborated with Elle to improve their coverage and Stylist magazine have said that Vagenda inspired them to no longer run diet articles. Although their articles frequently go viral, it's their work with schools and universities, discussing feminism with the journalists and readers of tomorrow, that the dynamic duo are really proud of: ‘We have 13 year old girls who had never considered feminism before. That's where you can see you're having an effect on people.’
So where next? Baxter is fuming that equal pay is still out of reach and says that Vagenda is committed to helping end FGM. ‘Really,’ she says sadly, ‘I want to make us irrelevant.’ They may have a long way to go before every magazine meets their standards but until then, viva la Vagenda.
Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 14 Aug, 8.30pm, £10(£8). Word Power Books, 622 9112, 15 Aug, 1pm, free.