Life is hard out there for a single woman. One day I need a new thingamajig installed in my jalopy of a car, the next day I need traffic enforcement to cut me a break on the fact that my meter has expired, and you should try hailing a cab in New York as a black woman unless you have a little leg showing. It’s a cold hard world out there for a woman who happens to be blessed with a little bit of cleavage, a pair of gams, and some eyelashes to bat at a man. Is it a no-no to use a little flirting to get through life’s little annoyances?
I’ve found that I get much better service from both men and women when I put a smile on my face, speak sweetly, and make eye contact while saying “please” and “thank you” a lot. But I really get better service from men when I happen to be wearing a skirt on the short side or a low-cut top. The service gets even better when I raise my voice an octave or two, and don’t get me started on the perks of wearing a straight wig or weave instead of my usual tumble of natural naps. They say that men are visual creatures and I believe it — I find that, on any particular day, the closer I am to what is considered “sexy,” the better service I get inevitably is.
But there’s a problem with this: tarting myself out just to get a discount oil change doesn’t quite gel with my self-perception. I’m a feminist, a thinker, and a meritocrat. I should get good service because I’m a paying customer, not because I’m cute. In fact, the reward could be for just trying to be cute and in doing so demonstrating how much I like to please men — who knows? Both prospects are unsettling to someone like me, who primarily wants to be recognized for her true strengths. And I know that most of those rest in my brain and not in my bra.