Funny Feminism: you need to know about this website
This is a cause close to our own hearts... you can get annoyed with the way women's magazines patronise us ("gloss is the new lipstick!"; "Reality TV Star's shock weight gain!", etc.) or you can do something about it. We created Alpha Female. These ladies created a hilarious website to shame the writers of inane women's magazines publishing drivel. We give you, the ladies of the Vagenda blog, talking back for us online
Alphas, if you're anything like us, you may well have felt really jolly cross at the casual misogyny of rap lyrics or patronised by women's magazines, and wished you could tell them exactly what you think. If only you had the time and the platform to do it. Fret not, the ladies behind the hilarious Vagenda
blog have done a splendid of job of skewering everyone from sexist journalists to rappers. They answer our questions here... 1. Define success for you?
H: Zen as it sounds, success to me is more about feeling content with yourself. To be able to feel that you have conducted yourself fairly and morally contributes a lot more to personal success than most of the other options.
R: Career wise, I always thought success meant having money and status, but I feel disillusioned with that now. I think having people read your writing and being able to make a meagre living from it would be enough for me in terms of work. It’s your relationships to people which matter the most, though.
2. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
H: I swing between both, and there's nothing wrong with being a realist! When I have an important decision to make, I try talking it through with a pessimist and an optimist in my life, so I can conjure up a realistic perspective in the middle. Doesn't always work, but it's been a good tactic so far.
R: My mum’s family are catastrophisers. If one thing goes wrong it can feel like the world is crumbling. My dad is the opposite: the world could be crumbling and he’d be in a state of upbeat denial. I’d say I’m a bit of both.3. Do you believe in luck and/or fate?
H: No, no, no, no. No.
R: You’re lying. Remember how you had to move into my airing cupboard and that’s when we launched the Vagenda. You were all, ‘this is meant to be.’
H: There's a lot more to be said for irreverence, in my opinion! But the best sacred value I've come across so far is to get ahead in the race through your own merit, rather than through pushing the other competitors over.
R: My personal life. If work starts to negatively affect that, then I’m outta there.5. What are the key questions that need to be explored in order for women to move forward?
H: We need to explore how we communicate with other women, especially through the media. The Vagenda has proven that there is a demand for loud, funny feminism, blowing the opinion out of the water that patronising women's magazines were just 'catering to demand.' Women can't move forward in business until there is a general consensus that they are talented, professional, functioning human beings that are no different to their male counterparts except in a few bodily necessities - we need to see each other that way, and we need to stop commissioning the endless, often female-led, studies that explore why 'women on the board' affect businesses either in positive or negative ways. Communication - especially public communication - needs to bridge any divide, not accentuate it.
R: I was talking to one of our writers, Sophie, yesterday, and she was saying that she thinks the division of domestic labour is one of the issues that still really needs to be tackled. Often we work the same hours as our men, sometimes even earn the same pay as them (if we’re lucky), yet we’re still the ones scrubbing the toilet bowl. Why?6. Who are your role models now?
H: I've been conducting a five-year long love affair in my head with Natalie Portman, so I'm going to shun all my normal role models in this instance to admit that. She went to Harvard, she's the best actor ever, and she looks great without hair. I also aspire to look excellent bald.
R: I love that SNL skit she did. She’s able to laugh at herself. My own role models are mainly female writers. Despite the flurry of crap we are confronted with every day, there are some proper good journos out there fighting the fight. Lucy Mangan, Eva Wiseman, Hadley Freeman, Polly Toynbee, Rosamund Urwin, Hadley Freeman, Laurie Penny. I also think Alex Shulman has done a lot of good with her refusal to ignore fashions weird body-image outlook it’s got going on. Although I may not agree with everything in Vogue, they still very much value good writing which is something of a rarity nowadays.7. What does 'giving back' mean in your life?
H: 'Giving back' means changing something positively, and we do try to do that at the Vagenda, in between laughing our heads off. I think that's a lot more important than 'giving something back' financially.
R: True that. When ‘giving back’ becomes something like Cameron’s Big Society, where basically you’re replacing the mechanisms of the state with the work of private individuals and companies, then I’m not on board with that. I’m not at the point where I can make large donations to charity, but most of my clothes are from charity shops, so I reckon at least £50 a month goes that way. I’d advise others to do the same. You can get some amazing things- especially in West London.8. Do you feel that women think instinctively about 'giving back', either financially or emotionally, and if so, why?
H: I don't think so, personally. It's a really nice idea, but philanthropists the world over are a diverse bunch.
R: I think people do, instinctively. There can be a certain amount of guilt that comes with success. Also, if you look at programmes like the Secret Millionaire, the millionaires tend to give money to causes which in some way have personally affected them. My granddad always gave to the Sally Army, because my grandmother had been born in one of their homes. I think women, on balance, probably volunteer more, but that’s because their options for part-time work are pretty crummy at the moment. Also, they often live longer, which is why you see so many old ladies running charity shops.9. If you had 24 hours to live, what would you do, and who would you spend them with?
H: I would spend them with my truly excellent family, imparting my wisdom in a tragic voice. Or I might just get really drunk and go to a silent disco. A bit of both, I think.
R: I’d definitely get drunk at some point, probably towards the end. I’d have a party with everyone. 10. What would you like to be remembered for?
Hopefully, the Vagenda
will be remembered for changing female-facing media and the way that women are spoken about and catered to. Failing that, we'd like to be remembered for giving everyone a damn good laugh.
Check the Vagenda here