Jessica Bennett Feminist Fight Club | woman at work

Working women: Speak up. Say no.


Who says feminists are humorless whiners?

A bunch of people, actually, if my in-box is any guide.

There’s no time for that nonsense, though, when you’re fighting the good fight.

“Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual (For a Sexist Workplace)” is a hilarious new guide to pushing back against stereotypes and microaggressions at the office. Written by New York Times columnist Jessica Bennett, it offers hacks and facts for steeling yourself for battle as you forge ahead in search of a paycheck.

What sort of workplace dragons does Bennett set out to slay?

“It’s watching a man instinctively turn to a woman to take notes in a meeting, or being mistaken for the admin when you’re actually the one in charge,” she writes. “It’s being talked over in a group setting over and over again, or having your idea attributed to someone else. … It’s having to be nice (because women are nice!) but not too nice (don’t wanna be a pushover); maternal (a natural caretaker!), but not actually a mother (lest you be viewed as ‘uncommitted’ to the job). It’s having to be confident so that you can command respect but not too confident (because we don’t like cocky women). It’s having to work twice as hard to prove you’re once as good, or three, four, five times as hard if you happen to be female and of color.”

Bennett is in a real-life Feminist Fight Club in New York, and the book is her gift to those of us who can’t make the meetings. She takes the best of what she and her fellow professionals have gleaned over the years and presents it to us for adoption.

All action, no whining. Plenty of humor.

If there’s a workplace in your life, I highly recommend giving the entire thing a read. (That goes for men and women.) To whet your appetite, here are five tips and tricks I picked up.

1. Stop manterrupting

feminist-fight-clubResearch shows men speak more than women in professional meetings, Bennett writes, and women are twice as likely as men to be interrupted when they speak. If you witness this — especially if you are a man — speak up.

“You can be a Manterrupter Interrupter, interjecting manterruptions on behalf of your female colleagues,” Bennett writes. “It’s as easy as, ‘Hey, can you let her finish?”

If you’re the one being interrupted, Bennett has a couple of tips: “Just keep talking. Keep your pauses short. Maintain your momentum. No matter if he waves his hands, raises his voice or squirms in his chair, you do you.” Or, push back. “Bob, I wasn’t done finishing that point. Give me one more sec.”

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