Like many women, I hate riding in taxicabs alone. No matter how unapproachable you make your face look, no matter how hard you lock your eyes on your phone, a male cab driver will almost always talk to you. Making small talk with a male stranger can be fine in some situations but cab conversations become uncomfortable just often enough that I’d rather skip them altogether.
That’s why I’ll be taking a SheTaxi the next time I’m in New York City. As the New York Times reports, SheTaxi is a new taxi service with all-female drivers that only accepts female riders. New Yorkers will be able to hail one of these lady cabs using an iPhone app much like Lyft or Uber. The appeal is clear: Making small talk with another woman is so much easier than climbing into a car with a man who runs a fifty percent chance of hitting on you.
The news of the SheTaxi app made me wonder what other industries and customer service experiences would be improved if I could guarantee that I would only have to interact with other women. It’s a long list, but I’ve cut it down to seven items:
1) Auto repair shops.
As Time reports, women are much more likely to get ripped off at auto repair shops. The predominantly male employees at these shops tend to assume that women know nothing about the cost of auto repair and, in my case, at least, they’re absolutely right. Every time I go to Jiffy Lube, I just have to accept that they are probably making me pay for three completely unnecessary services because I don’t have the know-how nor the personality necessary to challenge them.
So imagine if major auto repair shops had locations run by women that were only open to women. I could roll up in my Honda Fit—which, by the way, has the highest percentage of female drivers out of any car, thank you very much—with the hope that a female mechanic might be slightly less likely to swindle me.
2) Best Buy.
Last year, Slate declared that Best Buy “is awful and deserves to die.” Geez, Slate, tell us how you really feel. But they’re right. Best Buy is one of the most awful stores on the planet and it does deserve to die. As a friend of mine once told me, his voice quavering with terror: “The shortest route to an existential crisis is any two points in Best Buy.”
Best Buy’s electronics are drastically overpriced, true, but the worst part of Best Buy is the so-called “Geek Squad,” a ghostly crew of men in blue polo shirts who aimlessly wander the store and occasionally try to “help” you. There has never been a greater disjuncture between fantasy and reality than the gap between Best Buy advertisements and the Best Buy store experience.
In one ad, for instance, we see a cheerful multiracial, female-dominated Geek Squad that looks like it was ripped straight out of a college recruiting pamphlet. In reality, however, Best Buy employees are condescending and unknowledgeable in equal measure. I tried to get one to help me pick out a washer once. I’m not sure he did his own laundry.
So why would you even step foot in a Best Buy? Sometimes you just have to. No matter how much you hate the store, it will suck you in like a riptide when you least expect it. “Wait, Christmas is tomorrow?” Boom. You’re in a Best Buy surrounded by your own sadness.
Imagine how much more pleasant the Best Buy experience would be if you could summon an all-female band of electronics experts with some obnoxiously lady-specific name like “The She-ek Squad.” I’d probably still avoid the store at all costs, but I might not feel the need to conduct an exorcism every time I step foot inside one.
3) Pizza delivery.
I’ll admit it. This one is purely selfish. By the time I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I am indeed going to order an entire large pizza for myself, I’m usually sitting around in my underwear with eyeliner smudged across my face. If I could choose the gender of my pizza delivery person, I’d choose another woman every time. Why? She gets it. She’s been there. And I’d never have to open the door with pants on again.
An all-female pizza delivery service would be the greatest innovation in pizza since the Domino’s Pizza Tracker.
4) Internet message boards.
While social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are dominated by women, general Internet forums and message boards still tend to be boys’ clubs. Reddit is nearly 74 percent male, and it shows. Where do misogynist hate groups go to congregate? Reddit! Where were the nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence illegally circulated? Reddit! What is one of the last bastions for child pornography on the Internet? Reddit!
There has never been a message board on the scale of Reddit that caters predominantly to women…until now? A former Facebook employee named Susan Johnson is launching Women.com, an invite-only website that only allows women to participate in discussions. I’ve been on Women.com for a few days now, and it’s so deliciously free of men and the mansplaining and misogynist slurs that so often come along with them.
5) The restaurant industry.
According to a Bloomberg report, women constitute the majority of the food service industry, but they only make up 6.3 percent of head chefs in major U.S. restaurants. While I’m sure this has some sort of effect on the food that gets served in our restaurants, let’s just be honest about where this gender discrepancy matters most for a Hulu-obsessed person like me: food television.
I love Ina Garten more than life itself, but sometimes I crave the edginess of a Type-A chef who’s climbed to the top of the restaurant business. Cat Cora’s great, but there’s only one of her. Where’s my female Gordon Ramsay? Where’s my female Joe Bastianich? (I would ask for a female version of Bobby Flay, but I’m pretty sure gender doesn’t apply to robots.)
I love food television but I’d love it more if I could watch more women chew out aspiring home chefs right alongside their male counterparts.
6) The TSA.
Remember a few years ago when a TSA agent left a note on a woman’s vibrator that said, “GET YOUR FREAK ON, GIRL?” I do, and the story has haunted me ever since. The TSA never revealed whether or not the agent who left that message was a man or a woman, but let’s be honest: it was probably a dude.
Do you also remember when an ex-TSA agent posted a viral confessional article earlier this year, revealing that male TSA agents use secret phrases like “Code Red” and “Fanny Pack” to openly discuss the relative attractiveness of female passengers?
If it’s starting to seem like men might not be able handle situations in which they are required to privately inspect people and their belongs, you’re probably noticing a pattern. I would feel a lot better moving through airport security if I knew my vibrator and my body would only be examined by a woman’s eyes.
7) Literally everything.
I would love to have the option to walk outside and only have to interact with other women all day long. I’d also love to be able boot up my computer and have the option to only see tweets, status updates, and comments from other women. “It looks like you’re trying to use the Internet,” Clippy would say, “Would you like me to delete all the men?” Why yes, Clippy, I would.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that men don’t deserve jobs. I’m not even saying I don’t like men. But if the demand for a service like SheTaxi is any indication, masculinity can be toxic enough that women will literally pay to avoid it. When many women would rather use a special app to avoid men than climb into a taxicab with a male driver, maybe it’s time for men to figure out how to treat female customers like human beings before we SheTaxi every industry.
Photo via kennymatic/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)