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…or at least, that is what one is led to believe by the promise of many new ‘Hooters‘ bars cropping up all over England. Hoorah, another way of normalising the objectification and degradation of women.

I’ll link you up to the criticisms on The F-Word, and the relevant Facebook group and petition, but first have a look at what Hooters have to say for themselves:

The element of female sex appeal is prevalent in the restaurants, and the company believes the Hooters Girl is as socially acceptable as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, or a Radio City Rockette. The Hooters system employs over 25,000 people – over 15,000 of which are Hooters Girls. The “nearly world famous” Hooters Girls are the cornerstone of the Hooters concept, and as part of their job, these all-American cheerleaders make promotional and charitable appearances in their respective communities. Hooters hires women who best fit the image of a Hooters Girl to work in this capacity. The chain hires both males and females to work in management and host, staff, service bar, and kitchen positions. The Hooters Girl uniform consists of orange shorts and a white tank top, short-sleeve or long-sleeve T-shirt. Pantyhose and bras are required.

Claims that Hooters exploits attractive women are as ridiculous as saying the NFL exploits men who are big and fast. Hooters Girls have the same right to use their natural female sex appeal to earn a living as do super models Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. To Hooters, the women’s rights movement is important because it guarantees women have the right to choose their own careers, be it a Supreme Court Justice or Hooters Girl.

Women occupy management positions all the way from Assistant Manager to Vice President of Training and Development, Kat Cole, who started her career at Hooters as a Hooters Girl.

The chain acknowledges that many consider “Hooters” a slang term for a portion of the female anatomy. Hooters does have an owl inside its logo and uses an owl theme sufficiently to allow debate to occur over the meaning’s intent. The chain enjoys and benefits from this debate. In the end, we hope Hooters means a great place to eat.

Hooters characterizes itself as a neighborhood place, not a typical family restaurant. Sixty-eight percent of customers are male, most between the ages of 25-54. Hooters does not market itself to families, but they do patronize the restaurants. Ten percent of the parties we serve have children in them. Hooters is in the hospitality business and provides the best possible service to anyone coming through the door. For this reason, the chain offers a children’s menu.

Oh I could continue quoting, but you might as well read the page if it interests you. I’ll just add this one bit:

Sex appeal is legal and it sells. Newspapers, magazines, daytime talk shows, and local television affiliates consistently emphasize a variety of sexual topics to boost sales. Hooters marketing, emphasizing the Hooters Girl and her sex appeal, along with its commitment to quality operations continues to build and contributes to the chain’s success. Hooters’ business motto sums it up, “You can sell the sizzle, but you have to deliver the steak.”

Lovely. It’s one of those ‘the majority is always right, therefore the perceived majority is always right, therefore the media is always right and therefore we are’ decisions. Pretty questionable if you ask me. What they don’t seem to understand is that their company reduces women to mere ‘sex appeal’, and normalises the view of women as constantly sexually available, as there for male pleasure and as subservient. As Laura Woodhouse from The F-Word puts it,

Some women may have no problems working there or dealing with the customers. But some women choosing to work there doesn’t mean that the Hooters’ view of women is OK. As long as women are primarily valued and viewed as sex objects for male pleasure/entertainment, all women suffer, because that status allows us to be discriminated against and “justifies” male sexual harassment of women, the myths about rape (she asked for it because she had her breasts out, she wanted it really etc etc), paying us less or barring our access to certain jobs. We will not be seen or treated as equals with equal rights as long as the culture of which Hooters is a part insists that our greatest asset is our breasts, and that these exist for men to look at and make money out of.

Other women have to take any job going, and they shouldn’t have to put up with the Hooters uniform and sexual harassment in order to make a living. Callers on the show last night who claimed that no one has to do a job they don’t like are naive. You think people CHOOSE to empty bins or clean toilets day in, day out for years on end? People have to make ends meet, and they should not have to put up with the Hooters environment in order to do so. I don’t think the women who choose to work there should have to, either.

Here are the anti-hooters links: Both blogs at The F-Word , Facebook group, PETITION, Guardian article.

And here’s the agreement that all of the ‘girls’ have to sign – read paras 2 and 3.

I’d be intrigued to know what you think about this. Personally, as you may have gathered, I’m astonished that this should even be suggested, let alone accepted, as a new branch of restaurants, pleasantly titled ‘breastaurants’ by one of the lawyers for Hooters (which, really, says it all), in England.

Goodness, that’s a bit of a long sentence, sorry. I hope that there is some way of stopping them, really I do. The fact that they are celebrating their 25th Birthday in America is depressing enough, let’s hope they never get to celebrate their first one here.

[Edit: It would appear that actually they have been successful in getting permission for a Hooters in Southend on Sea. Damn damn damn damn. But that does not mean (obviously) that we just give up and accept their existence in our country. Or indeed anywhere. Keep fighting the good fight, my friends. And on that note, as ever, adieu.]

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