Pretty soon, the only thing more lucrative than the business of dating in Vancouver will be the business of being a wing-woman.
For those not in the know, a wing-woman is that friend who will stay by your side during a girl’s night out. A good wing-woman serves the dual purpose of shielding you from unwanted attention while at the same time focusing desired attention your way. She will keep those creeps at bay on the dance floor so you can do your thing. Your wing-woman will start a conversation with the cute guy of your choice so that you don’t have to appear too eager, then she will subtly melt away to let you two lovebirds seal the deal.
Unlike her male counterpart, the wing-man, the wing-woman is not a sacrificial lamb offered up to the “hero’s” ugly sidekick. No, she is not the Robin to your Batman. She is your personal hook-up ninja with a black belt in making you look good. She is the master of small talk, the kind that makes you look funny, smart and desirable. She is so skilled that he won’t know what hit him.
The wing-woman position is not a fixed entity; it is fluid and dynamic. It’s one that can be held simultaneously within a pair or group of women. The mantle of the wing- woman goes where it is needed and us women wear it proudly. I too have shouldered my share of wing-woman duties in my time. I’ve pulled for my closest friends as well as for women I’ve just met (cuz you always gotta help a sista out). I’ve plied my services in a dozen countries over three continents.
I thought I was somewhat of an expert at this wing-woman thing, that is, until I came across Sheila Sharmen, professional wing- woman. Sheila works for a company based out of New York that provides wing-woman services to men. “Hold up!” you are probably saying, “For men?”
Any guy with cash burning a hole in his pocket can hire his very own wing-woman to accompany him out on the town. The concept is brain-numbingly simple: it’s easier for a man to meet a woman if he is hanging with one.
As Sheila points out, “A woman approaching a woman is different than a guy approaching a woman, or a woman approaching a guy. Because we have sisterhood bonds. If I came up to you and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I really love your shoes,’ we would start talking about your shoes. And then in comes my male friend. And you’re already in a good mood; we’ve established a bond. And that’s extended to my friend.”
Of course Sheila’s “friendship” comes with a price tag. For a mere $50 an hour, she will use her sistahood bond to maximize a guy’s chances at getting lucky. Can’t afford her services? Sheila suggests that a guy get together with a couple of his buddies to tag- team with the wing-woman, if you will. The group splits the cost and reaps the benefits of her expertise.
The company is doing so well that they have opened up offices in Miami and Los Angeles. Could Vancouver be next? Vancouver would seem like a natural choice for such a service. It’s a large urban centre with a notoriously fickle dating scene. Men and women alike complain that it is extremely hard to find a date, especially if you’re a busy professional without a lot of spare time to devote to meeting new people. When these youngish urban professionals do go out they want to maximize their time. At the risk of making a gross generalization, the male dominated Yaletown software-start-up crowd would seem like the most likely candidate for the woman’s touch.
The commoditization of relationships is not a new conceit. Sex and love have been for sale since the beginning of human history. Countless cultures employ the services of matchmakers; dowries are nothing new and there have been political marriages as long as there have been politics. The modern popularized forms of the “business of love” take the shape of a myriad of dating services from internet to speed dating.
However, as a proud wing-woman I cannot help but think that this new dimension in dating services is taking it too far. Sure, the idea of a “friend for hire” to get the girl has long been a plot device in cheesy ‘80s movies (think Can’t Buy Me Love), but for women to sell their sacred wing-woman services is a new low. In essence, these wing-women are giving the sista seal of approval to guys they can’t really vouch for. And that’s a dangerous thing. Sheila is right, women do have sistahood bonds and part of the unspoken code of the wing-woman is not to betray a sista.