Even if there are a lot of people in your office who support you, most of us still need a little extra help in order to survive and thrive in a sexist place of work. Lucky for us, these authors are here to help.
Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett
Fight Club is a group for women who fight. The first rule is that we talk about it. It’s a lot. Jessica Bennett, the New York Times Gender Editor, uses a lightly-anonymized version of a real feminist fight club that she used to be a member of to talk about how to fight back against office sexism at work. That should make you want to start your own feminist fight club. Bennett also gives tips for male allies who want to help but don’t know where to start.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
A book about the U.S. tech industry that attracts people from all over the world, even those who haven’t done much more than change their Tumblr theme? When Emily Chang wrote Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley, she did just that. She used sexism in Silicon Valley as a way to look at the history of women in tech. How does Chang figure out why the tech industry is so bad and what we can do to fix it? He looks at psychological insights (and common sense).
Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women by Otecha Uwagba
Otecha Uwagba knows how important it is to connect with other people, so she started Women Who, an online community for women in the creative industries. Uwagba didn’t stop there, though. She also wrote a book called Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women that covers everything you could think of, like asking for a raise, starting a business, and keeping your personal brand strong. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie also wrote a piece for the book.
Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman
Saru Jayaraman is the founder of the restaurant union, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. She has a lot of interesting information about the lives and struggles of restaurant workers in the United States. As a journalist, economist, and person, she uses Behind the Kitchen Door to look at how our eating out culture affects workers (especially women) all over the world. In the end, Jayaraman makes a strong case for improving the lives of kitchen workers that will make you want to cheer.
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
Many people who read Ellen Pao’s book about sexism in Silicon Valley will think they already know what happened. Roxane Gay called the book “necessary and incisive” after reading just a few chapters. Tired and confused about whether or not workplace discrimination will ever get better, you might be. Check out this book. Want to make changes but don’t know where to start? Check out this book. Just want to read something that will make you angry and inspire you at the same time? Check out this book.
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
The fourth edition of this venerable anthology, which first came out in 1981, is still a great place to find important ideas from women of color. Before the term “intersectionality” was used in academic writing, This Bridge Called My Back did the hard work of developing intersectional feminism. They challenged the “sisterhood” of white feminists and made connections between race, class, gender, and sexuality. Forty years after this anthology was published, third wave feminism and new activist groups are still based on the wide range of ideas in it. May future generations of radical women fall in love with This Bridge Called My Back as much as their predecessors did. After all, this groundbreaking anthology is still important to the future of feminism.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall
We don’t talk about basic needs as a feminist issue very often. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall says this: “We don’t talk about basic needs very often.” When people think about how to help women get their basic needs met, they don’t usually think about how to make them more powerful. Hood Feminism is an important and urgent book that talks about how modern feminism doesn’t work for everyone but a few rich and powerful women. A book called Hood Feminism attacks whitewashed, Lean In feminism in a scathing way. Kendall wants the movement to embrace inclusivity and anti-racism. Kendall writes powerful and eloquent essays that show how the movement’s focus on increasing privilege has failed Black women, Indigenous women, and trans women, among other groups. She says that feminism needs to shift its focus away from increasing privilege and toward solving problems that affect the lives of all women.
Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit
Seven sharp essays by one of our most creative and incisive writers are now a modern classic. The title essay, “Mansplaining,” is about how men and women often get into fights by telling each other what to do. In the following essays, Solnit looks at politics, history, art, and media through the lens of cultural misogyny, arguing that seemingly isolated acts of sexism, like mansplaining, are part of a dangerous continuum of gendered exploitation and abuse that can lead to sexual violence. In her book, Solnit says that “It’s a slippery slope.” That’s why we need to deal with the slope, not just the different types of misogyny and deal with them one at a time. Men Explain Things to Me is a powerful argument for a world where women have the same power and respect as men. It’s brave, honest, and open.
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison has a lot of great works, so it’s hard to pick just one. When in doubt, start at the beginning. Morrison’s first novel, Pecola Breedlove, tells the story of an abused and unloved black girl who is pregnant by her own father. She lives in a rural town in Ohio and is constantly abused and cruel. Pecola wants blue eyes so bad that she thinks conventional white beauty is the way to a better life. She soon finds that her mind has been taken over to the point of madness. In 1970, Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye put him on the map as a once-in-a-century writer with special abilities. In the years since, it has been a common sight on banned book lists, with states citing “offensive language” and “sexually explicit material” as reasons to keep it out of school. It was once said of Morrison by Oprah Winfrey that, “She is our conscience. She is our seer, and she is our truth-teller.” To these states, may the lightning strike Morrison’s truth. The Bluest Eye is one of the most important American books ever written, and it has a place in the American canon. It is filled with sadness and wonder, but it is also a powerful study of trauma, shame, and internalized racism.