It can't hurt to ask

Inspired by a book about women's reluctance to negotiate, a blogger sets out to ask for something every day for a year.

Published October 9, 2008 2:45PM (EDT)

This past July, a woman calling herself La Roxy was inspired by the book "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide" to start a project in which she explicitly asks for something every day for a year. According to the book's authors, women's reluctance to ask for stuff can result in massive financial losses over the course of a career, slower advancement and way more grunt work in the home, among other unpleasant things. La Roxy was so struck by their message that by the time she got to Page 7, she'd already decided to try her asking experiment. And of course the next natural step was to blog it, hence the Daily Asker.

"The point is to simplify my life by and boost my financial situation by asking," she writes. "The point is to try to benefit from the type of situation where 'it can't hurt to ask.' The point is to start thinking about asking in the first place. The point is to become a better asker over time: identify opportunities, identify my needs and desires, develop strategies, maximize savings and earnings. The point is to use asking as a springboard for becoming a negotiator who can be cutthroat or cajoling, as needed."

Some of La Roxy's requests have been small and simple. She asked a police officer if she could borrow his Segway (no), a rental car company for a free upgrade to a Mustang (yes) and a person sitting next to her on the bus to shut up (amazingly, yes). But she has also taken the advice of "Women Don't Ask" to heart in more serious ways. Last month, she asked for her first raise and not only got it but heard from her boss, "It's a good thing you asked."

Reflecting on how the experience has already changed her, La Roxy writes: "Some interactions obviously test my limits, some make me uncomfortable, but others seem routine. Sometimes I'm going out of my way to ask, but other times the opportunity falls in my lap. The least common denominator is that they're all things I would have hesitated to inquire about before this July. Maybe I hesitate today, as well, but I push myself to try, instead of being polite or 'knowing my place.' Or maybe before it simply wouldn't have occurred to me. So, I guess, this is putting me in tune with what I want, and forcing me to be braver in tiny and not so tiny ways."

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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