I feel like I should have so much more to say about this book, having read it while the Weinstein scandal broke wide and the world seems to be reeling from what decades of systematic (and systemic) harassment and sexism create. I recognized myself and my friends in Jessica Bennett and her original Fight Club, I see the value in the techniques and tricks she encapsulated in this book, and I’m encouraged to see so much of what she writes backed up by hard scientific evidence.
However, I am just so exhausted by all of it.
This book is meant to be practicably useful: flip to a section, find the particular problem you are experiencing and read suggestions for how to combat the toxic masculinity and misogyny that surrounds you. What it is not however, after the first section, is a book that is likely meant to be read straight through. Which is what I attempted to do. While the world continued to burn down around us.
I know I’m sounding a bit dramatic and full of hyperbole, but I am feeling that way. I also brought my own particular needs to reading this book. I work in a nearly 100% lady environment, so the sexism I see is more often internalized misogyny – good news is that this book does cover that angle.
The book is full of all kinds of practical tips and explanations about how these scenarios pop up so that you know you aren’t alone or aren’t crazy for seeing them in the world around you. The title says “manual for a sexist workplace” but really, it is a manual for a sexist world. You will experience some of these behaviors no matter who you are or where you work, or where you shop, eat, or visit. The part of the conceit of the book that I liked best is that it offering varying ways of responding. Bennett isn’t telling us that every solution will work each time; nor that every solution is right every time. She instead offers a scale of ways to react.
A small word of caution though, this book often equates being a woman with your reproductive parts. It definitely made me raise an eyebrow on occasion, as it leaves out so many of our sisters in arms.