What’s the Big Deal About ‘Breastaurants’ Like Hooters?
There’s a Hooters slated to open in our city soon.
With all the things I desperately wish were imported into Australia from America (Cheerios, drive-through espresso stands, and honest-to-goodness Mexican food), Hooters is somewhere near the bottom of that ever-loving list, right above the broken health care system.
I’m pretty sure that everyone knows what kind of a restaurant Hooters is—they are self-classified as an “adult entertainment” venue—but did you know that they employ girls as young as thirteen years old who are required to sign that they “acknowledge and affirm” the following:
- My job duties require that I interact with and entertain the customers.
- The Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and the work environment is one in which joking and entertaining conversations are commonplace.
- I do not find my job duties, uniform requirements, or work environment to be offensive, intimidating, hostile, or unwelcome. (Source.)
How in the world they can try to market a restaurant based on sex appeal as a “family friendly” environment (even offering ‘kids eat free’ nights and children’s promotional apparel) is completely beyond me.
When the community voices concern.
A small band of us (as in several hundred) have been petitioning and voicing our concerns about this so-called “family friendly” franchise being permitted to open here.
We spoke up – single people, married people, religious people, non-religious people, people with sons, people with daughters, young women, old women, young men, old men. A whole slew of us spoke up.
And you know what we were called? Here are a few (unedited) examples, taken from only a handful of the 500+ facebook comments that I have no time or interest in reading:
- get back on ya horse an buggy an go back to ya Armish Community
- just fat lazy bored housewifes
- small minded
- minority group whingers
- backwards hick rednecks
- jealous housewives
- ugmo couch fatties
- whingy, close-minded do-gooders
- those bored house wifies need to go to a sex shop or something and loosen up abit
- How do these degrade women who volunteer for these jobs. If anything it’s the opposite it puts women on a platform. If this is not a platform for u don’t go and get a job there. Your logic and arguments are flawed and if anything is a backwards step for women.
- People arguing its about equality and objectifying women are just naive. If you want to go down that road you may aswell remove cheerleaders, pit girls at the v8s, female receptionists and the strippers. If you don’t like it… Don’t go. Society has become so sterile in the last 5 years and it’s becoming a joke.
Here’s the thing, I’m not personally offended by these comments at all. I’m not ugly, or lazy, or jealous. I’m not Amish, or bored, or prude. I’m definitely not a redneck and I’m fairly certain that those who know me would never peg me as small-minded. (I’m not sure what’s wrong with being a “do-gooder” so I’ll go ahead and give ‘em that one.)
So even though these comments don’t offend me, they do sadden me. For every “anti” Hooters comment left on that thread there were probably 50 “pro” comments. (Never mind they sounded like they all copy+pasted what the person above them wrote and then threw in the “people wear less at the shopping mall” stellar line of reasoning to drive home their point about the “small minded rednecks living under a rock” who voiced our opposition.) It worries me profoundly that we live in an era where legitimate concerns about the welfare of women are tossed out of the arena and labeled as irrelevant and outdated.
Because here’s what I think is grossly outdated: patriarchal societal norms where women are sexually exploited for the pleasure and entertainment of men… even normalized to the point of women themselves volunteering for it.
This is not about a woman’s right to be employed. This is about putting a halt to the normalization of sexual exploitation around the dinner table.
Desensitization is numbing us to the destructive nature of the sexualization of women.
In another comment a young woman told of how she was shocked when she visited a Hooters in Sydney and then went a second time and realized “how wonderful it all was and that only their arms were exposed”. This kind of a comment demonstrates how desensitized we have all become.
I’m not immune to it and neither are you.
We are all desensitized to a certain degree and I’m not sure how that can be reversed given the prevalence of our sex-saturated media and culture.
What I’m concerned with at this point is how we can slow the desensitizing process for ourselves and our children.
This doesn’t mean living a sheltered existence. This doesn’t mean avoiding beaches, dressing in potato sacks, or throwing out our TVs. (That last one might actually be effective, but I am borderline addicted to Call the Midwife, Modern Family, and Downton Abby so I don’t see it happening in our house any time soon.)
“What’s the big deal? It’s just one restaurant. If you don’t like it, don’t go.”
Sure, Hooters is just one of a million examples of scantily clad women used as marketing fuel to lure in male clientele and reinforce to women that their worth is sourced from how much sexual arousal they can garner. But if we continue to say it’s “just” one more titillating restaurant, “just” one more semi-pornographic billboard, “just” one more degrading t-shirt, “just” one more inappropriate lingerie display at a 9-year-old’s eye level… where does it stop?
It doesn’t and it won’t.
Hooters is not the enemy here. Hooters is a small little pawn in the global movement of the exploitation of women that has been going on since the beginning of time. What baffles me most is that as some areas of liberty grow for women, it seems others are reverting back to shadows of a male-dominated society that most any forward-thinking person (that is actually thinking) would deem foul, unjust, and degrading.
Let’s not be content at having the vote, having equal employment opportunity (on paper at least), and having a right to education. Let’s also work for a world in which women are valued for more than giving men a reason to salivate.
How about we aim for a world where women aren’t reduced to the size of their breasts?
Is this just another feminist rant?
Let me just put this out there – the inevitable elephant in the room – because I know it will come up in the comments: Yes, I am a feminist. But probably not the kind you’re thinking of. I’m not angry. I don’t hate men. I am happily married and not anti-establishment. I have been a career woman, a stay-at-home mom, and a working mom and I know that none of those positions define me as a woman or make me better or less than another woman. (There’s also the little fact that I like my bra thankyouverymuch.) We have to ditch the old stereotypes of feminism and embrace it for what it really is.
Feminism is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
So by definition, yes, I am a feminist and I am of the deep belief that the world needs many, many more men and women who can and will advocate on behalf of girls and women being treated with the dignity and equality they deserve.
The constant sexualization and degradation of women is a feminist issue – it matters that we fight for women’s rights and equality – but this is also an issue of humanity. It matters that we fight for the dignity of all – men, women, and children. A place like Hooters undermines that fight, plain and simple.
Maybe Hooters is one small thing, but it becomes a big thing when we turn our head the other direction and pretend these issues don’t affect us or that they are too insurmountable to be worth working for change.
Dear friends, the Hooters-specific thing aside, how have we become so body obsessed and sexually driven that we can’t even see that this sort of objectification of women is damaging to both women and men on so many levels? Can someone help me understand because it seems so clear to me?