Part manual, part manifesto, Feminist Fight Club is a guide to navigating subtle sexism at work, providing real-life career advice and humorous reinforcement for a new generation of professional women.
Despite its irreverent tone, Feminist Fight Club is as grounded in academic research as Lean In ... The topics covered range from lactation and power poses to negotiating raises and mentoring. Ms. Bennett manages to convey a remarkable amount of substance briskly and entertainingly. If I have a criticism of the book, it is the lack of a narrative arc. Ms. Bennett uses the establishment of her own Feminist Fight Club (essentially a support group of early-career women) as a loose theme to tie the various pieces, but in the opening pages she suggests that the book can be read in almost any order.
As feisty, smart, and well researched as this book may be, it can’t help but seem like a sweet artifact from another time ... Feminist Fight Club is all about focusing on how to avoid being victimized by sexism, even from nice guy co-workers, one workplace interaction at a time, and in that Bennett succeeds brilliantly ... What Bennett does especially well, and I’m guessing inadvertently, is convey the degree to which women can’t really win. She excels at nailing how much it can suck to be a woman in the workplace, how impossible it is to thread that needle ... her sharp, smart writing is overwhelmed by funny illustrations, lists, flow charts, faux handwritten contracts, and footnotes.
So if sexual harassment and pay equity aren’t the problem, what is? It turns out that the forms of workplace sexism Bennett has in mind are the subtler, harder-to-contest varieties, in part because the guys enacting them are often nice enough fellows, not jerks. They’re your friends, progressives even ... All this whimsy is heavy going, and weirdly at odds with the larger message of the book, which is that your femininity isn’t going to get you very far at work—in fact it may be your big problem ... a lot of this book is taken up with small bore issues. Bennett understands that with 42 million women in America living on the brink of poverty (the number is hers), some of her concerns sound trivial, but there she is complaining about the AC nonetheless.