Vagenda Asks: Can We Take the Sexism Out of Headlines?

3 years ago

What would the world look like if headlines in tabloids stopped being critical and cruel and started reflecting the photos of women that they accompany? On Monday, the editors at Vagenda Magazine asked their readers to pitch in in the headline-editing effort. They kicked off the hashtag for the project #thevagenda by turning "Make-Up Free Amy Adams Is Anything But Glamorous as She Goes Wild in the Aisles in Los Angeles Supermarket" into "Woman Buys Groceries, Remains 5-Time Academy Award Nominee."

The project got picked up by Buzzfeed on Wednesday -- a reflection of the Vagenda mission appeal. After debuting in January of 2012, the blog quickly hit the 7 million pageview mark.

"We launched the blog because we felt that, for far too long, women's magazines had been getting away with making us feel bad about ourselves, and we knew that we couldn't be the only ones who were feeling this way. It turns out that we weren't," write Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Holly Baxter in a recent column for the New Statesman. "It turns out that we weren't."

The two U.K. bloggers have gotten some heat for their methods in the fight against media. A Guardian review of their book -- also named Vagenda and based on the same theme -- accused them of being sensationalist and playing fast and loose with facts, just like the tabloids they want so desperately to take down. A columnist at the Telegraph said both the book and blog made her feel full of self-loathing and added that she wished the authors would find a better way to pass their time -- like by launching a magazine of their own.

Whatever the critics say, the campaign to "normalize headlines," as Coslett and Baxter call it, is working. Without preaching, the founders of Vagenda have gotten hundreds of thousands of people to take a critical look at the media they're consuming. The results, which are still appearing on Twitter and Tumblr, have been both awesome and infuriating. Here is a sampling:

Maybe after this, we can go cold-turkey on our hate-reading habit.

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