“‘This isn’t about money,’ the man would say.
He’d be the one person in a thousand, or in ten thousand, who’d get angry about our fixed service charge. Angry about his lack of control over the price, angry about not being the final arbiter of our service. You could count on him being male, at least when we’re talking about public scenes.”
I began to notice that his hostility was not the frustration of a consumer who’d paid for a faulty product — we would occasionally encounter that kind of frustration, and this was different. No, this anger was much more evocative of a man betrayed. As we watched the scene repeat, I started to draw assocations with certain cultural archetypes — the rage of a man who finds out he’s been cuckolded, or the man whose lover tells him she’s always faked her orgasms. In time I drew the conclusion that our tipping ritual is only nominally a business arrangement. Under the surface, it is much more a convention about sex and power.
Tipping, as we use it in America, allows our culture perpetuate the meme that women aren’t themselves sexual, but only pretend to like sex in order to make money — because a woman who isn’t sexual would never cuckold her man.
I’ve come to believe that propping up this meme is the more important role of tipping; and the suggestion that tips insure better service is just a ruse, misdirection.
Start at Part One, and read the whole damned thing. The bit I posted about is from Part Five. It demolishes all the reasons we accept tipping as necessary and points out they’re all invalidated by *gasp* actual research.
I grew up in a non-tipping country and culture, and recently traveled in a country without tipping. The service was not any different. But whenever I’ve expressed puzzlement at the culture of tipping I’ve been near shouted at.
The whole series goes a long way to explaining why it’s often been men who’ve near threatened violence at me for continuing to argue it. Lots of food for thought.