My Nintendo Wii thinks I am 83-years-old. It really does--this is not hyperbole. That's because when I took the physical fitness test offered on Wii Sports, the console could tell I was not the most athletic nor coordinated person alive. I can't truthfully say this was shocking news. Unlike Fergie, I'm not frequently up in the gym working on my fitness. One time I tried to do those Biggest Loser 30 Day Shred videos but I didn't have weights so I used bottles of wine instead.
That said, I cannot stand it when people try to tell me I'm too feeble to do something. Why yes, I am struggling to get up the stairs with a huge box of cat litter and 3 bags of groceries, but I'm gonna do it my way. I know to normal human beings, it's polite and super sweet to lend a helping hand, but I will take it personally. Maybe because I'm overcompensating for my laughable lack of upper body strength? Or maybe it's because I've never really liked the idea that women inherently need help getting shit done.
That's why when Gothamist posted about Ian Zelesko, the 34-year-old single man who runs a business called Rent-a-Gent, I kind of wanted to barf my brains out. The concept is that he will come to the aid of any damsel-in-distress in New York City: building IKEA furniture, installing air conditioners, acting as a protective male buffer in Craigslist transactions, painting a room, driving moving vans across Brooklyn, etc. And all he charges is a six pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
It's an okay idea and he seems like a Nice Guy, but something about it rubs me the wrong way: the fact that his business is meant to cater to single women exclusively, as if we're a totally helpless class waiting to be helped. The language of the whole project adheres too strictly to out-dated and incorrect gender norms. "Any boyfriend or husband worth his salt should be able to do this type of work, so I would probably turn it down if he was just lazy or couldn't be bothered by physical labor," Zelesko told Gothamist. Ugh gag me. I've spent a good chunk of my twenties as a perpetually single woman, and yet I have managed to install ac window units with only minor bloodshed and maximum swearing. I've engaged in hours-long sweat battles with PAX units and at no point did I wistfully think, "If only somebody with a penis was here…" It was more like, "Godammit why are allen wrenches so short? Are these things made for tiny baby hands?"
Rent-a-Gent has a tumblr where Zelesko posts pictures and testimonials from jobs, because when you're hiring a stranger from the internet to act as your buffer for other strangers from the internet, it helps to see documentation that he's not a serial killer. The testimonials are a bit irksome--lots of women saying I wanted to do x, but I just broke up with my boyfriend and I needed y, but all my dude friends were out of town. Uhh, what about your best girl friends? I've driven a U-Haul across Brooklyn and painted entire houses with my roommates. We don't need dudes to help us! I want to start a business where I go around helping ladies build their furniture and do their odd jobs. I admit it won't be perfect, but that's because I am weak, lazy, and too type-B to own a level, not because I'm a woman. They can pay me in very cheap wine and we can use Youtube tutorials to figure that shit out together. Girl power!
Image source Gothamist