Part manual, part manifesto, a humorous yet incisive guide to navigating subtle sexism at work—a pocketbook Lean In for the Buzzfeed generation that provides real-life career advice and humorous reinforcement for a new generation of professional women.
It was a fight club—but without the fighting and without the men. Every month, the women would huddle in a friend’s apartment to share sexist job frustrations and trade tips for how best to tackle them. Once upon a time, you might have called them a consciousness-raising group. But the problems of today’s working world are more subtle, less pronounced, harder to identify—and, if Ellen Pao is any indication, harder to prove—than those of their foremothers. These women weren’t just there to vent. They needed battle tactics. And so the fight club was born.
Hard-hitting and entertaining, Feminist Fight Club blends personal stories with research, statistics, infographics, and no-bullsh*t expert advice. Bennett offers a new vocabulary for the sexist workplace archetypes women encounter everyday—such as the Manterrupter who talks over female colleagues in meetings or the Himitator who appropriates their ideas—and provides practical hacks for navigating other gender landmines in today’s working world. With original illustrations, Feminist Mad Libs, a Negotiation Cheat Sheet, as well as fascinating historical research and a kit for “How to Start Your Own Club,” Feminist Fight Club tackles both the external (sexist) and internal (self-sabotaging) behaviors that plague today’s women—as well as the system that perpetuates them.
In 2009, journalist Bennett, who now writes about gender and culture for the New York Times, founded the Feminist Fight Club with a group of 11 career-minded women living in N.Y.C. to discuss their professional setbacks and successes battling sexism on the job, and many of these experiences are recounted here. Bringing levity to common frustrations, Bennett lists ways (or "fight moves") to combat the bad behavior of workplace-perpetrator archetypes such as the "manterrupter" ("he who won't shut up") and the "bropropriator" (he who "appropriates credit for another's work"). She gives advice on avoiding coffee fetching and "office housework" and hacks away at sexist stereotypes with discussions on such issues as the fine line between assertive and aggressive. A language lesson explores minimizing speech patterns such as up-speak, hedging, and vocal fry. Tips on self-confidence boosting are punctuated with quotations from Tina Fey, Michelle Obama, and other successful women giving career advice to women. It is saddening that the problems described by the book persist, but Bennett's light approach and humorous neologisms make fighting the power a lot more palatable.