If you're a woman working in an office environment, then chances are you've had some passive aggressive thoughts about the potentially irritating behavior of some of your colleagues. Whether it's combating stereotypes or the fact you're the only woman in sight, prepare yourself for the perfect, cathartic, and darkly hilarious outlet for all those observations: Ginny Hogan's Toxic Femininity in the Workplace: Office Gender Politics Are a Battlefield.
The writer and humorist's collection of razor-sharp short stories and satire is one of the most exciting new books to come out this September. Each chapter will have you laughing (and wincing) from the accuracy, and luckily we have a look at one of them in particular: "A Woman From the Year 3019 Visits a Tech Start-up." Read it ahead, and then be sure to pick up a copy of Hogan's book for yourself when it goes on sale on Sept. 10.
A Woman From the Year 3019 Visits a Tech Start-Up
R3BETA52 walks into the start-up. She's taken aback by the brightly colored walls — back in 2019, start-ups could choose to use bright colors, unlike now, when global warming has made black and white walls a necessity.
She approaches the receptionist. She's a perky young woman named Sherry.
"May I speak with an engineer?" asks R3BETA52.
"Sure thing, do you know who you're here to see?" Sherry asks.
"No. My time machine has broken down, and I'm hoping an engineer can help me fix it."
Sherry looks startled but takes the information in stride. "You must be with Elon Musk?" She asks again.
"I know nothing of him. Please — an engineer. My body is not adapted to last long in this climate," R3BETA52 implores her.
Sherry walks R3BETA52 to the engineering floor. About twenty young white men are at their laptops working.
"I need to see the engineers," R3BETA52 says.
"Here they are!" Sherry replied perkily.
"No, please, I need to see all of them."
"Well, Freddie is working from home today, but other than that, this is all of them."
"No, please, I need a woman engineer. My time machine — it needs . . ."
At this point, Harry notices what's happening. He takes off his headphones and approaches Sherry and R3BETA52.
"Hey — uh, are you from the future?" Harry asks.
"Yes. How did you know?" R3BETA52 responds.
"I spend a LOT of time on Reddit. Neato! What's kickin'?" Harry says joyfully.
"I need a woman engineer to fix my time machine. Please."
"Well, I'm not a woman, but I'd love to help you fix it. I'm sure I could do it. I read a TON of sci-fi, plus I went to Stanford," Harry replies confidently.
"No, it has to be a woman. Where are your women engineers?"
Sherry has wandered back, eager to return to her phones. At this point, Harry grows a bit snippy. "So we're a little behind on our diversity goals, what's it to you?"
"I need a woman engineer," R3BETA52 repeats.
"You're being a little aggressive," Harry says.
"You don't understand. In 3019, we don't use men anymore."
Harry gasps. "You don't mean to tell me— "
"Yes. Men are obsolete. Once machines became sentient they stopped responding to men because men don't know how to listen. I need a woman engineer. But I am melting, I am melting. I am . . ."
"In what exact year do men become obsolete? Just out of curiosity?"
"I AM DYING! I NEED A WOMAN ENGINEER!" R3BETA52 cries.
"Can you give me some more specifics on a date? Like, after 2090? I have a long projected lifespan, I drink a lot of Soylent, and I got 23andMe— "- "
"NEED WOMAN ENGINEER!"
"Maybe just a woman! Does she have to be an engineer? I could try to find someone from sales!" Harry yells.
R3BETA52 slowly begins to melt. "NO! MUST BE ENGINEER! PLEASE! PLEASE!"
"I'm so sorry, we don't have one! Should I call our recruiter?" Harry yells desperately. "But there are so few, anyway, I doubt she could get us one at the last minute! God, what should we do!? Do you we have any ice-cold LaCroix to cool her down?!"
But it's too late. R3BETA52 has melted and died. At this point, the rest of the engineers have removed their noise-canceling headphones to see what's going on. After a long pause, Harry speaks again.
"We should probably hire, like, one woman, just in case this sort of thing comes up again."
Excerpted from TOXIC FEMININITY IN THE WORKPLACE: Office Gender Politics Are a Battlefield by Ginny Hogan. Copyright © 2019 by Virginia Hogan. From Morrow Gift, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.