WHEN AWARD_WINNING journalist Jessica Bennett published her saucy Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual (For a Sexist Workplace) in September 2016, it seemed reasonable to suggest “recognizing sexism is harder than it once was.”
That was before then-presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed in one debate that his rival Hillary Clinton didn’t have the presidential “look” and called her a “nasty woman” in another, and before the leak of a 2005 tape in which Trump boasted of grabbing women’s genitals, which he defended as “locker room talk.”
But blatant sexism doesn’t cancel out the less-obvious forms. Bennett addresses a variety of modern workplace scenarios—from fighting to get a word in edgewise and negotiating equal pay and maternity leave to naming and confronting sexual harassment—with statistical evidence and creative strategies. The latter run from the subtle yet assertive “I have another idea to throw out” in response to male dismissal or interruption to the more overt “Are you her tampon?” when a man asks if a co-worker is on her period.
Like many Gen-Xers who came of age after the feminist revolution, Bennett’s awakening was gradual. She started her career as a Newsweek reporter in 2005. Until she got there, she knew nothing of the 46 female Newsweek employees who, decades earlier, successfully sued over gender discrimination when they found they had been hired as researchers for male reporters on grounds that “women don’t write.”