The Vagenda

GlamURGH strikes again

Today I’ve been reading teen bible Glamour magazine. I say reading, but reading is what you do when you’re given a Milan Kundera novel and have a full day of nothing ahead of you. Bliss. With Glamour, it’s more like eye absorbing, and can be done while holding an entire conversation, without pause, about European fiscal debt.

Some might question the use of the terminology “teen bible”. ‘But Glamour is for grown-up, fully self-actualised, well-rounded women!’ I hear you cry. Stop kidding yourselves. That’s just what they probably tell their advertisers. When I was fifteen, there was nothing I loved more than collecting glittery nail polish and reading stuff about boys and how to get them to like me. When Glamour launched it was like every Saturday come at once. But I digress.

Glamour is a bit thin on features. I’d call most of their content “featurettes” (aka pictures with some words thrown in.) It’s also increasingly difficult to differentiate between what is advertising and what is actual content, but when you go over it with a fine tooth comb in search of an articles and finally catch one of the wriggly little nit-buggers crawling between the teeth, you’ll notice that the tone is almost invariably smug. In the editor’s letter we have editor Jo Elvin undertaking a lengthy boast at how chuffed she was to meet the Queen, and how nice it was that Prince Philip recognised the name of the magazine. Yes, that’s the Prince Philip who once said that ex-servicemen with PTSD should just get on with it, and “I don’t think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing.” What lovely, non-democratically elected company you keep. 

But, back to the smugness. On the letters page, I’ve drawn a big red circle around 
“Love Yourself (we do!)”
So Glamour staff, you actually, like, love yourselves? As in, you wake up in the morning and, upon looking in the mirror, you think “Yes! Yesyesyes! I am beautiful! I am a journalist! I am WOMAN”? Not to say there’s owt wrong with loving yourself, far from it. But walking around saying it makes you sound like a twat and is unlikely to endear you to those “lads” you’re so keen on ‘snogging’.

So featurette, featurette, featurette…oh here’s something- A DEBATE! Wait…it’s about musical theatre? What’s the debate? Everyone knows musical theatre is awful, except perhaps for my poor late grandma, who had to go by herself to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” because not one member of our family would go with her. Why? Not because they are heartless dance-Nazis, but because it was Cats. Bravo Claudia Winkleman. 

Skipping past pictures of Paris Hilton’s luggage and Jude Law talking about his fondness for manicures, we arrive at Louise Mensch, Tory MP who sits firmly in Murdoch’s pocket (which, we have decided, is new slang for vagina: “Eh up, she ‘ad a fanny like Murdoch’s pocket”- NB read in Yorkshire accent) and strident feminist. Well, lukewarm feminist. OK not a feminist at all, then. Because working for a government which seems determined to close women’s refuges and loving Maggie Thatcher and making dollaz off writing insipid status-quo maintaining chick-lit isn’t really that feminist. Sure, Maggie has a vagina and got to be Prime Minister, but she didn’t half pull the fucking ladder up after her.

I’m not going to get too into my beef with Mensch because the Vagenda is a FUN blog, but suffice to say having her telling me to stop drinking and start running was sufficient to get the bile rising. Why do you think I drink so much Louise? Maybe it’s to block out the fact that you lot, selfish heartless bunch of chablis swilling toffs that are, SOMEHOW, in power and therefore have a direct say in what happens to me and my vagina. Yet rather than analysing the potential impact of this government’s policies on real, living women today, Glamour lets one of them spaff on about their agenda oblivious to the fact that not all of us spend our days quaffing chai lattes in polished Bond Street offices, or trashing restaurants or stealing schoolchildren’s milk.

Louise would probably say that the high stress I’m feeling right now could be combatted by “a walk outside, ideally in a green space”, but actually, it’s from having that woman in my eyeline. So onwards.

It’s clear that intelligence and thoughtfulness are not qualities Glamour magazine deems necessary in its readership, which is here exemplified by “Get your art fix- It’s a fast track way to feeling smug and clever.” OK, so I did a degree in art history, and yes, most of us were both smug and clever. But that was after four years at a Russell Group university. Are Glamour readers supposed to be satisfied with one measly ‘cultural’ paragraph? That’s that box ticked, then. Back to the important stuff.

Next up is “Hey, it’s OK”, also known as MEGALOLZ AREN’T WE WOMEN DAFT? It’s the magazine equivalent of an office worker with a sign saying: “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!” Here are some of them:

Hey, it’s OK…

…to try and count ice-cream as your five-a-day. Strawberry is a fruit. Vanilla totally should be.

…if you occasionally get a little flirty with your gay best friend

…to make imaginary shopping baskets on

Isn’t Girlworld FABULOUS? It’s made of ice cream and shoes and camp men. I wish I lived there, instead of here, in this messy North London flat with its mouldy ceilings, full ashtrays and my farting bedfellow. Shame that I fucking hate ice cream, that high heels are an evil tool of the patriarchy, and that all the gay men I know would rather read a book or hang out with their friends than sashay down Bond Street screeching “CHANELLO!”

In ‘Weird Love Advice That Works’ I’m told that ‘just hearing his name is an aphrodisiac” so “say his name. Lots.” Apparently this “sends the message that you’re thinking about him and no one else, and is tied to men’s primal urge to beat all the competition.” I’m going to try this when I go to dinner with my boyfriend tonight. I’ll abandon the usual “sausage pie” and “snuffkin” in favour of “Tim.” So I’ll be all, “Will you pass the wine, TIM?” “How was your day, TIM?” “What do you mean something’s strange? I’m just behaving the way I usually do, TIM.” “I’m just going to rearrange our seats, TIM, because doing that is “like a spritz of relationship febreeze. TIM.” I will accompany this with raised eyebrows and a steely, thousand mile stare. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After that I’ll get him home and we’ll follow Em and Lo’s SUMMER SEX PLAN. With an hour of sex, I’ll lose 170 calories, which will burn off my morning latte and result in a not unpleasant chafing sensation. FYI girls, next time you have PMS you can get rid of it by frigging yourself with your favourite vibrator, which will give you “pain relief.” Em and Lo also encourage Yogasms, which sounds about as fun as actual yoga (i.e. not at all) The best bit is yet to come (!) however: 

“You know how seeing someone yawn makes you yawn? Orgasms are the same.” 

Shit, really? You mean orgasms can be ‘catching?’ Somehow the thought of a little evening  bukkake isn’t really getting me going. If watching someone else cum really is enough to set you off yourself, how come I wasted my teens and early twenties faking orgasm at a time where traditionally one’s males contemporaries are spaffing all over the place? Call me paranoid, but something’s rotten in the state of Em and Lo. 

I’m going to skip tedious shit like the beauty pages and Glamour’s 50 best dressed women 2012, which is pretty much the same rotation of anorexics every year, and the pro-royalist Diamond Jubilee Special (aka ten pages of jingoistic brown nosing) to bring you the piece de resistance, namely:


A penetrating and insightful look at the sex-industry by resident apologist Tanya de Grunwald!

You may remember that Tanya wrote an atrocious article about the Playboy club back in February, which disregarded the goddess Gloria Steinhem’s now legendary undercover expose in favour of “AWWW LOOK AT THEIR ICKLE FLUFFY TAILS!” 

Now, the bitch is back, and this time it’s to take a look at young women working in the sex industry (read: selling their dirty knickers on the internet.) Not the actual sex industry, she hastens to add, because “all these women stop short of selling actual sex.” Oh, that’s OK, then.

Firm numbers on these part time jobs are hard to come by, says Tanya, instead relying on anecdotal evidence or the old “three makes a trend” journo mantra. Not only is the “evidence” that young women in their droves are turning to sex chatlines and selling their dirty pants practically non-existent, but having Sarah telling you that she’s made £7,000 in six months doing it might strike some as encouragement. Not that I give a toss whether or not you’re flogging your dischargy pants on the net, but a little balance would have been nice. Instead, we’re treated to what “friends of people known to Glamour” have to say on the matter, which is, judging by the company they keep…er…not much actually. Instead,  Tanya opts for the not-at-all temping “Would you be tempted?” WELL WOULD YOU? GO ON! SEVEN GRAND FOR KNICKERS? NO-ONE’S JUDGING!

Plus working as a waitress in a strip club isn’t so bad because customers will try to touch you only “rarely.” “I basically earn a living by flirting,” says Maria. Danielle, meanwhile, does sex chatlines while cooking her dinner and watching YouTube. Could they be detached? wonders Tanya, before deciding that a “new morality” is emerging and that we no longer think about what is right or wrong, but “how far each of us is prepared to go, and at what price.” Yes, girls, she’s including you in that sweeping generalisation. That’s you, sat on your couch as home, musing over whether or not to sell your dirty kecks on the interweb. Because we’re all the same. 

Except Helen. We’re not like Helen, because Helen is completely ridiculous. A webcam stripper for £100 an hour, Helen says that working that way is her choice, before adding: “It annoys me when women claim they have to do sex work to pay the bills or pay off their graduate debt.” Oh, how annoying of them to dare moan about being economically forced into prostitution. Is that interfering with your ‘sexy’ ‘fun’ job, Helen?

After two full sides of barely concealed encouragement, we’re then given three lousy paragraphs of counter argument, giving a cursory mention to exploitation, potential dangers and the tragic murder of hostess Lucie Blackman by one of her customers. But it’s all dandy, because Sarah’s dirty pants paid for her last holiday!

At the bottom of the article, we are then given several tips on how to stay safe while working on a sex chatline, although, says Glamour quickly, ‘we would never encourage or recommend this line of work.” No course not, except in the way of extremely imbalanced, partisan journalism.

After this depressing article, I’m left wondering if I can physically go on. The fashion and beauty pages last forever and say nothing new except that in order to be a proper human you need to look good in a bikini and be wearing two inches of slap. In the hour I have spent ‘reading’ Glamour I’ve realised that, rather than being what is ordinarily termed a “magazine” it is in fact an evil, pro-royalist, anti-democracy, tory-lauding propaganda machine for teenagers which really wants you to sell your dirty knickers on the web. And that, ladybros, is why you should stop reading it. 

11 thoughts on “GlamURGH strikes again

  1. I remember buying Glamour once to read on a long train journey. I think I would have been better off just repeatedly banging my head against the window for the entire journey.

  2. Does Celia Walden still write for Glamurgh? I was quite confused for a while about why Piers Morgan kept getting to view his opinions on what the whole of womankind should say/wear/eat/think/kill (ok I made up the last one) until I realised he is Mr Walden. I really hope he hates being called that! Yay! Nasty nasty slimeball.

  3. This is not, I fear, directly related to the above (which was highly enjoyable!), but I desperately want to read a withering Vagenda summary of the current Daily Fail sidebar. I counted at least four ‘blooming’ pregnant ladies, three dieting celebrities, one ‘brave’ celebrity who went out without makeup (oh my god! her eyelids are skin-coloured!!), one celebrity in slightly baggy clothing being accused of being pregnant, a couple of articles about male celebrities accused of sexual assault, and finally one article berating a filmstar for failing to ‘suck in her tummy’ on the red carpet. Oh, and another one about a very newly pregnant celebrity allegedly ‘displaying a tiny baby bump!’ where her stomach is in fact about as flat as the Fens.

    Thankyou Daily Fail, I am now going to go ensure my makeup supply is fully-stocked, go for a three-hour run and then drink a Weight Watchers milkshake for dinner. Cos, you know, otherwise I might as well never go outside for fear of inflicting the horror of my un-made-up face and absolutely disgusting 9 stone of flab on the world. Thankyou Daily Fail for educating me in what an ideal woman should be.

  4. :) Yes, I saw that when it came up; it just occurred to me that yesterday’s sidebar was, if possible, even more objectionable. The Dail Fail needs regular naming and shaming as much as the other culprits, methinks! :P

  5. Agreed! The last time I bought a magazine (in my defence it was £2 and I wanted the tube of expensive brand hair mask) it told me that woman should draw freckles on themselves. WHAT!? What flakey fashion advice. And when you sweat is that a good look to have brown smudges everywhere and look like tom the chimney sweep?

    And when I last looked on the internet for make up advice, i was lead to the Cosmo website and the links in the side bar seemed to have been written by a pimp. Someone obsessed that I did everything perfectly for “my man”:
    What Men Really Think About Your Bikini
    Seduce Your Boyfriend with These Beauty Moves
    8 Secret Guy Insecurities
    Real Guys Share Their Favorite Sexy Moves
    Hookup Horror Stories – from Men
    Sexy Underwear for Your Man
    50, Fun Cheap Date Ideas

    So, if I’m doing all of these things for “my man”, a man I don’t have (should I hibernate if i have no man to live for) taking care of their insecurities, not being a horror hookup, doing his fave sexy beauty moves (whoever “he” is), helping him buy the right underwear(!?!) then we sure as hell aren’t going on 50 cheap dates! I need a rest and pampering after all this preparation.

    It’s my fault. I don’t listen to science podcasts for news about “The Voice” and I wouldn’t go to a ladies magazine for anything to do with me.

  6. I love this blog . . . I really do . . . but (apologies) may I venture to suggest that it is possible to be a feminist and loathe these magazines and simultaneously not be entirely anti-royalist? I have a lot of time for the Royal Family and I hope that this doesn’t cut me off from Vagenda, because I think you ladies say an awful lot of Very Important Stuff. I just think sometimes it’s important to focus on the real issue because making throwaway comments like that does run the risk of undermining the otherwise excellent commentaries you lovely ladies make on our depressingly anti-female society.

    Just my feelings from a royalist feminist :)