By Michelle Gaudet
“Recognizing sexism is harder than it once was. Like the micro-aggressions that people of colour endure daily – racism masked as subtle insults or dismissals – today’s sexism is insidious, casual, politically correct, even friendly.”
What we’re reading: Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett
About the author: Jessica Bennett is an award-winning journalist, critic, and author who writes about gender issues, sexuality, and culture. She has written for the New York Times and Newsweek, and is the co-founder of the Lean In Collection – a partnership between LeanIn.Org and Getty Images, to change the way women are depicted in stock photos. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. The book also contains illustrations by Saskia Wariner and Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell.
The Main Idea: Llana Glazer (co-creator of Broad City) called this book “a classic fuck you feminist battle manual,” and I think that’s a pretty good place to start. This part manual, part manifesto, offers advice for how women can combat today’s subtle workplace sexism. Bennett gives us silly but clever names for the sexist archetypes women encounter at work, such as the Manterrupter (who talks over female colleagues in meetings), the Womenemy (the woman who believes she must undercut other women in order to succeed), and the Stenographucker (who treats women in the office like secretaries). The book doesn’t just target sexist male colleagues, but also illuminates self-sabotaging behaviours, offers negotiating tactics (to get paid, son), and explores the stereotypical traps women can fall into in their careers.
Take aways: Not only is this book extremely accessible, entertaining, and satisfying, it was legitimately inspiring. I was anticipating finding the most use in the sections about male workplace enemies and how to counter them, but instead found encouragement in the female self-sabotage personas like the Herfectionist and the Impost-Her (Imposter Syndrome, that bitch). Self-sabotage might not be a sexist issue, but it’s a very real thing for this girl and many others, who are just starting their professional careers.
Side note: Gift this book to every woman on your list this holiday season, fight back against workplace sexism, and start your own Feminist Fight Club (and send me an invite)!
Michelle Gaudet is an SFU communication grad, a bibliophile running out of shelf space, and a wizard. She is happiest when reading outdoors, listening to country music, and exploring new neighbourhoods.