Book Review: Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett

Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist WorkplaceFeminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first rule of Feminist Fight Club is that you must talk about Feminist Fight Club. The second rule, you MUST talk about Feminist Fight Club. So I’m going to talk about Feminist Fight Club. To use the books own words to describe it:

It is an action, an attitude, a state of mind, a collective call to arms.

I have to admit that I very rarely read non fiction and more often than not when I do I struggle to make it to the end. There was something about this book though that really appealed when I spotted it on NetGalley. I suppose I’m just fascinated by different thoughts on equality in the workplace and it’s something I am very passionate about. I would never describe myself as a feminist (I don’t like the term for some reason) but I do believe that no one should be discriminated against because of sex, race, religion, orientation or any other factor. To be perfectly honest I don’t think any of those factors should even be a consideration (possibly why I don’t like the feminist term). What matters is can you do the job, the rest is irrelevant.

As the book points out however, sexism in today’s workplace is a much more subtle thing than it previously was. It’s much more difficult to spot and more importantly to combat. This book is fantastic in helping you to identify the obvious and less obvious forms of sexist behaviour in the office and provides lots of helpful fight moves that can be used to combat them while keeping your professionalism. It also outlines the ways that women often sabotage themselves in the office and provides tactics for avoiding the traps.

These were probably the parts of the book that I found the most interesting and they definitely got me thinking about the office where I work and also my behaviour. It weirdly turns out that I already do a lot of the things they suggest. For example, I never volunteer to make teas and coffees or take notes in a meeting by claiming that I’m terrible at it 🙂

I suppose what’s more important about it is that it sparked some discussion among my team in the office (there are five men and me, the sole female). What these discussions indicated was that I was probably the exception to a lot of the statements in the book. I’m by far the chattiest, I’m a womanterruptor (oops), I’m pretty quick to speak out and I don’t really do any mummy-ing. I should also point out that I am the holder of the controls for the air con so the office is always at a temperature to suit me 🙂

I think however that I’m pretty lucky in where I work. There’s a really high proportion of women, a lot of whom are in senior roles and we pride ourselves on being inclusive and encouraging everyone to speak up. This book would make more difference to others who are in a less tolerant environment. Where I think I got most value from the book therefore was in looking at my own behaviour. I have definitely been thinking more about the language I use, although to be honest I often use qualifiers and caveated language on purpose.

If I had any criticisms of this book it’s that I felt it was a little on the long side and became a little repetitive. I was beginning to struggle in places and while it is very humorous and has some fantastic real life examples there were bits which just weren’t that relevant to me. Although it does suggest that you don’t need to read straight through but rather jump to the sections that interest you.

It’s also loaded full of Americanisms which I don’t overly mind but I would imagine others might. In addition I don’t particularly agree with the suggestion made that you should seek to promote women in the workplace. I’m all for supporting them, making sure their voice is heard and they aren’t being discriminated against but I don’t agree with the suggestion that you should seek to load the office with as many women as possible by selective recruitment i.e. if you’re in position where you hire staff you should actively seek to hire a woman rather than a man. I’m afraid I’m back to the best person for the job argument but that may be because I’m fortunate in where I work.

Overall therefore a good read and definitely one I’d recommend as it sparked some interesting discussions and gave me a much better understanding of myself.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Part manual, part manifesto, a humorous yet incisive guide to navigating subtle sexism at work—a pocketbook Lean In for theBuzzfeed 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

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett

  1. […] Another diverse mix of books read this week with the first one finished, Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett. While I usually stick to fiction there was something about this that appealed when I spied it on NetGalley. It’s probably the first one of these types of books I’ve ever managed to finish so that’s definitely a big plus. It manages to deal with serious issues in quite a light hearted way and the structure of it makes it easy to dip in and out. You can read my full review here. […]

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