After a fair amount of fantasy, I was in the mood for something different. And I picked up a book that is relatively unusual (for me) over the weekend, so I decided that would be next. This is Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual (For a Sexist Workplace) by Jessica Bennett. Only released last month, this book is an in-depth look at the many ways women have to deal with the perceived detriments of their gender. It also offers suggestions and advice for how to overcome these obstacles.
Our society is patriarchal, and it’s hard to really understand just how deep that bias runs until you start to dissect it. Bennett touches on the male privilege again and again, not only showing ways that women can overcome, but also ways to use that privilege to their benefit. I can give a summary of the book, but it’s really a self-help and self-empowerment item. Not a bad thing, but not especially interesting to narrate every single point again.
I mentioned how very new Feminist Fight Club is, and it shows, drawing on lots of current events to prove points or provide examples. And when I say prove points, I mean with actual factual research: the Notes section at the back (citations) is more than twenty pages long. Bennett (and her own FFC) did a great deal of research to back up this book and it shows.
The book is also written to be humorous, complete with drawings and jokes. That helps make it more palatable. Also the fact that it doesn’t need to be read strictly in order, but as you need.
Feminist Fight Club makes me think about sexistm and how utterly pervasive it is in our lives. The patriarchy controls our identiy. It insists that we identify as the gender we’re born to, leaving women in a submissive position. Transgender and gay men then find themselves either lumped in with the women, or somewhere above them but still below cisgender (identifying as the gender you were born as) men. Sexual identity, in this context, is then all about domination. Any woman is fair game and if she’s not heterosexual, she “just hasn’t found the right man yet.” And it doesn’t matter if she’s not interested, because this is where “no” is apparently spelled “y-e-s”.
I don’t mean to get up on a soapbox here, but sexism is something that pops into my mind relatively often, and considering that I identify as an aromantic asexual, I really hate being forced into a heteronormative role. Hell, the only reason I don’t (currently) identify as agender as well is because I’m attempting to overcome a lifetime’s worth of indoctrination to be a ciswoman. Will I consider myself agender if I do manage to leap that hurdle? I don’t know and, frankly, it doesn’t actually matter. Gender identity has never been something I’ve felt strongly about, not the way I do about my sexual identity or even my romantic identity. My personal philosophy is that I don’t care what you do or with whom, so long as it’s not with me.
Back on track. I don’t think I’ll be keeping Feminist Fight Club. Yes, there are some very useful resources in there, but a lot of it doesn’t apply to me or my job at this time. Might I regret this decision in the future? Possibly. But this isn’t really a book that I’d reread for fun, only if I needed something from it. It’s a tool that’s made to be enjoyable instead of dry, but it’s still primarily a resource. I am glad I picked it up, and when it was brand new and all the references were current. If I had waited a few years, there would’ve been a lot of moments where I paused and thought “gee, that’s already dated.”