‘New York Times’ Journalist Jessica Bennett Brings Her ‘Feminist Fight Club’ to Trinity

Writer Uses Humor, Personal Experiences to Raise Awareness about Gender Inequality

​Hartford, Connecticut, November 8, 2016 – Award-winning New York Times journalist Jessica Bennett came to Trinity College on Thursday, October 27, to discuss her book, Feminist Fight Club: An Office Manual to Survive a Sexist Workplace. This was part of a series of events on campus this semester that help raise awareness about gender inequality.

In Feminist Fight Club, Bennett offers strategies and tips for navigating sexism at work, providing real-life career advice and humorous reinforcement for a new generation of professional women. Bennett explained that the real “Feminist Fight Club” started when she landed her first job at Newsweek magazine in New York City.

“When I worked at Newsweek I realized that men began getting promoted more quickly than me,” Bennett said. “And often times, I would pitch a story, and it would get rejected, and weeks later I would see the same story had been published under a man’s name.” After hearing about similar issues in the 1970s, when women who worked at Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and Ladies’ Home Journal sued their employers for unfair gender-based treatment, Bennett was inspired to start a group of young professional women who came together every month to share sexist job frustrations and trade tips for how best to tackle them.

Despite the inspiration from their 1970s counterparts, Bennett said her group faced one major roadblock: modern-day sexism is much more subtle than the sexism faced by women of the previous generation. Bennett said, “Sexism back then was overt – but you knew it when you saw it. It had a clear-cut definition. This generation’s sexism is subtle: the kind of sexism that makes it easy to blame oneself.” Despite these new challenges, Bennett and her “Feminist Fight Club” formulated battle tactics for fighting sexism in the workplace, which she details in her book.

Laura Lockwood, director of Trinity’s Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC), which hosted the program, said, “Jessica Bennett’s humor and compassion, tempered with hard-hitting truths, exposed the harsh reality that, though perhaps more subtle, sexism is alive and well in our society.” The mission of WGRAC, Lockwood said, is to provide a vehicle for all who want to see a campus and a society free of discrimination, bias, and disrespect. Lockwood added, “Jessica brilliantly examined intersecting oppressions of racism, heterosexism, and sexism while skillfully reminding us it was scant years ago that women were legally barred from halls of power.”

The event was also sponsored by the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program, Trinity College Black Women’s Organization (TCBWO), the Public Policy and Law Program, the Chapel, the Office of Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (S.A.I.L.), the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Human Rights Program, Student Government Association (SGA), the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS), the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program (WMGS), Girlcott, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Muslim Students Association (MSA), Asian American Student Association (AASA), Students Encouraging Consensual Sex (SECS), Promoting Healthy Awareness of the Body (PHAB), Exempt Staff Council (ESC), Non-exempt Staff Council (NSC), and SARALesbians.

WGRAC and SECS will next host “Voices Raised in Power” on November 10, at 7:30 p.m., at The Mill. The evening honors survivors of sexual and gender-based violence with an evening of student performances and stories. The event is free and open to all.

For more information about WGRAC and its upcoming events, please click here.

Written by Catie Currie ’17