The email came with a simple, two-word subject line: “You’re in!” I had been accepted to the new DC location of the Wing, an all-female coworking space. In a city built on access, this was great news. I’d been invited into the center of today’s Zeitgeist. To be a Wing woman means being a member of a group that gets profiled by the New York Times and welcomes guest speakers like Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Lawrence. You could walk in everyday and feel like you’re living in an Instagram, eating a piece of avocado toast, working remotely, and checking out feminist literature without ever leaving your blush-toned, mid century loveseat.
At the DC opening party this week, I sat in the new space surrounded by women jockeying for cheekily-named cocktails or waiting in line to get their palms read. Everyone was decked to the nines, wearing that perfect blend of I-don’t-give-a-fuck-but-I-really-do casual chic found in Madewell stores across the country. I sprayed free Chanel perfume on myself while listening to Cardi B, ate Milk Bar truffles and drank rosé, and made a pin that read “Women’s Day is Everyday.”
It was awesome. On paper, it all checks out—an interesting group of women, a curated list of speakers and events, an in-house library, a stocked beauty room, and a cafe for coffee, snacks, and drinks. (And at a lower price than a lot of other nearby coworking spaces.)
So why didn’t I join? The focus on the Wing’s gender politics is the wrong way of looking at it; in reality, it’s really capitalizing on access. Its founders both come straight from the cool girl files. Lauren Kassan worked for the boutique fitness-access startup ClassPass, and Audrey Gelman’s résumé reads like a millenial woman’s greatest hits record, with a role on Girls and a wedding that was featured on Vogue.com. They are, in short, annoying.
Like a Goop-certified colon-cleanse, the Wing is obviously on another level. Especially to those of us who want to be a part of it but, for whatever reason—financial, geographic, logistical—can’t.
That’s me. When I got accepted and learned of its $215 a month price fee, I knew I couldn’t make it work. I’m a glorified intern as-is, freelancing after-hours to make ends meet. I live in a windowless walk-in closet, exist on a diet consisting mostly of sweet potatoes and eggs, and have a strange pain in my left ankle that needs to be checked out, but who has the extra money laying around for a co-pay?
It’s frustrating and old to peek at a life beyond your grasp—a panel of female White House reporters! sound bath meditation!—and then be reminded that, because of whatever reason, you can’t be a part of it. Really, what it comes down to for me is something personal, something deeper-seated and more emotional. Maybe it makes me feel like I’m the kid walking up to the cool lunch table, tray in hand and hoping for a seat. Or maybe it just makes me salty that I’m broke as shit living in an expensive city, and can’t afford the money to pay for something fun and interesting. Mostly, it’s just tiring.
Now that you’re privy to my financial woes—a silver lining. There is talk about the Wing adding additional membership options, such as cheaper ones that give limited access to just networking and speaker events. It’s a good option, and one that makes sense for a group that is targeting an age demographic filled with various levels of employment and financial security.
But even then—would I join it? If I had the funds and time available to schlep myself over to Georgetown on a regular basis, maybe. The thing is, in a city like DC, there are pretty much interesting people everywhere you go. If I really want, I can meet a friend for coffee around the corner, hear a fascinating talk for free, get a blowout by my house, or go buy beauty products for myself. I don’t really need someone to curate it for me. Thanks to the Wing, I realized I could do it all on my own.