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Inside 'Reductress', the Feminist Parody Site the Internet Didn't Know It Needed

Founded by three New York comedians in their apartment, the site now has more than a quarter of a million unique views a month.

by Erin Meisenzahl-Peace
06 March 2017, 10:08am

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

If you're going to write fake news, you should make it funny—at least that's the logic behind Reductress. Every day, the satirical news website publishes articles like "Four Playful Overalls That Say, 'Yeah, I Can Get You Adderall,'" and over the last year, they have gone viral across Facebook. According to Alexa, Reductress now boasts more than a quarter of a million unique monthly visitors. The site's founders have even started to get their own media attention, thanks to their recent satirical self-help book How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having it All—and Then Some!, which is presented as a terrible book written by the editors of a mainstream women's magazine.

"We call it a well-intentioned but bad manual on how to be a feminist," says founder Sarah Pappalardo.

Pappalardo wasn't always planning to use a website as her comedic platform. In 2012, she and her friend Beth Newell were struggling comedians in their late 20s. They had run in the same comedy circles for years, both performing improv and writing sketch comedy in New York. "It got a little exhausting dragging a bunch of props to a theatre all the time," Newell recalls. "We were both craving other creative outlets." One day, after taking a workshop at the Magnet Theater, Newell approached Pappalardo about creating a "fake news magazine." Pappalardo agreed to take part in the site. She had worked at a digital agency and Newell had interned and wrote for the Onion, so they both knew "just enough to know how hard it is" to make a successful website, Newell says.

For their 2013 launch, they roped a few of their friends into writing a bank of articles. Today, they've gained enough clout to add comedian Nicole Silverberg and Saturday Night Live writer Anna Drezen to their team as editors. The founders now work with Silverberg and two contributors in a small New York office, where they write articles, produce their podcast, and schedule speaking tours.

They've aspired to reach an audience beyond those who are able to make casual references to Audre Lorde and understand the difference between first- and second-wave feminists. "We didn't start the site with the idea of like, 'this is a feminist website,'" Newell says. "We were just doing a parody of women's media because there were some things that bothered us about the way women's media spoke to women." Take their recent article sarcastically referring to the La La Land producers as brave for conceding to Moonlight. You don't need a women's studies degree to laugh at the sentence, "It takes a certain kind of bravery to cede an Oscar that isn't even yours, but the La La Land producers did just that."

"I think it's just refreshing for women to have content that really speaks to them directly," Pappalardo says about their approach to comedy. "There are certain things that anyone who has gone through a so-called female experience finds funny and that people who haven't experienced just won't find funny."

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