I read the Feminist Fight Club with hesitation, wondering if it would make more paranoid about the workplace. When I first began my job I did not like conversation centered around being a woman in a male-dominated industry. I wanted to keep my head down and do great work, figuring everything else was just white noise. Two years a later and I’m not sure I feel the same way. Feminist Fight Club was vital in helping me re-frame my workplaces experiences in a whole new way.
The book is illustrated with humor and cartoons, making for quick and enjoyable read. It reads part-reference, part-manifesto, where author Jessica Bennet regales her own stories of subtle sexism and she fought against them. The book is divided into tactics to help fight against stereotypes in the workplace as well as self issues that can be addressed. It’s about both self-help and awareness of what others are doing. What I found was…I’m subconsciously doing many things that undermine myself or make me appear less confident in a group setting.
I often say “I’m sorry” as a precursor to statements, or apologize for mundane things. I ask for validation at the end of statements, asking “does that make sense” or “right?” even when I have done my homework. I get called out for looking like a student or not old enough to do the job. I feel guilty saying no.
None of this should be particularly surprising. But reading about other women’s’ experiences helped me realize that it is not enough to just do good work.
One of my favorite parts of the book was a section titled, “WWJD: What Would Josh Do.” Bennet shares examples of situations where a male counterpart might respond differently than a female. One I see often—ask for forgiveness, not permission. Studies have shown women often seek approval before taking risks in the workplace, where men simply find themselves doing it and assuming it will all be fine in the end. It seems silly, but I have done this on more than one occasion, and looking back it feels so unnecessary.
Full disclosure-there are certainly parts of the book that I feel are industry specific or hyperbolic. But put that aside and read with an open mind may-you may find yourself just as surprised as I was.