"Part of the job": Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry
October 9, 2014 9:24 PM   Subscribe

This past week, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United published a report on sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.

A 2012 blog entry at the Undercover Waitress raises the question: "Can a Hooters waitress sue for sexual harassment?" (Indeed, they can and have done so in the past.)

"Hostile Work Environment is exactly what Hooters creates": Of interest is a copy of the Hooters employee handbook, which essentially waives employee's rights which "[protect] them from sexual comments, jokes, banter and innuendo."

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is not only part of waitressing jobs: in a 2008 report by Lisa Huebner, nurses also report sexual harassment on the job.
posted by gemutlichkeit (53 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sexual harassment is almost universal, but there are jobs (as with the earlier discussion of fieldwork, and previous discussions of farm labor) where the physical and social environments add a lot more vulnerability. Food service is a fetid mess of labor law violations anyway, so I'm not at all surprised that it would be bad in this way as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:37 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's been 8+ years since I cooked for a living. Among other things, I'll never forget pointing out — to general manager, no less — that sexually harrassing a waitress in front of the fucking bulletin about sexual harrassment was something I would, in fact, NEVER FORGET.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:02 PM on October 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


Back of the house is much less harassment-prone, IME. Presumably it's something about the easy access to knives and fire, though.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:09 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I had a roommate that worked for Hooter's. They had to have fake aliases for work on their nametags and had to play frisbee out front of the restaurant in their skimpy uniforms during slow times to attract business. Creepy place.
posted by Hoopo at 10:33 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nursing at the VA was weird because most of the elderly male patients regarded us as senior officers to be obeyed without question (which wasn't the case since we were civvies, and it makes patient consent and education tricky) and the rest were relentless grabasses. Mind you, a lot of the ass patters were also confused from dementia so there wasn't much to do about it.
Hooters customers have no such excuses.
posted by gingerest at 10:52 PM on October 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I had a roommate that worked for Hooter's. They had to have fake aliases for work on their nametags and had to play frisbee out front of the restaurant in their skimpy uniforms during slow times to attract business. Creepy place.
posted by Hoopo


Isn't it generally understood when someone gets hired into Hooters that they're, in a very very mild way, selling the idea of sex? Sexual harassment should never, ever be tolerated, so don't get me wrong, but the uniform you wear is very skimpy, the place is called Hooters.. is it so surprising that women are using their bodies to draw in more customers?

I agree, the place is creepy.
posted by DriftingLotus at 11:04 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


DriftingLotus: Sort of, yes. But if you look at the lawsuits against them, the allegations were far beyond sexual innuendo and creepy customers and skimpy clothing - it was specifically aimed at the inappropriate behavior of management (think ass-slapping, demands for sex, etc, etc) beyond what the employees were led to expect.

Even if you work at a strip club you have the expectation that your management is not allowed to sexually assault you ("It's the LAW!").
posted by el io at 11:12 PM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I really don't know a whole lot about them. That's unfortunate to hear, and infuriating, yet not surprising to me at all.

Which I think is the saddest thing.
posted by DriftingLotus at 11:19 PM on October 9, 2014


The custom/economic bondage of "tipping" creates fertile soil for harassment so if you didn't need any other reason to end "tipping" this would be sufficient.
posted by SteveLaudig at 11:45 PM on October 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


My daughter wears leggings-as-pants to her server job, because she believes her tips are better since she started doing that. But then, one of the uniform t-shirts she is required to wear says "Eat my taco!" on it.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 2:54 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everybody should read the fascinating, multi-part Observations From a Tipless Restaurant.

On to the fucked-up-ness presented above.

I was surprised that the male numbers were as high as they were. (Though only 19% of respondents were male, so those numbers may be less accurate.)

Also, 2% of men reported rapes or attempted rapes by coworkers, versus 1% of women? I'm guessing that's either wrong, or an issue of margin of error (since many more women than men are raped in the US overall).

There may be a confounding factor in that states that allow tipped workers to be paid less than minimum wage might have more people who think sexual harassment is okay. Also, I suppose non-tipped restaurants might have less sexual harassment for other reasons, though I'm having trouble imagining what those reasons would be. I don't see these possibilities addressed anywhere.
posted by Renegade Duck at 3:10 AM on October 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Everybody should read the fascinating, multi-part Observations From a Tipless Restaurant.

That was fascinating.

One of the most startling experiences of my life, was listening to a female friend complaining about the service she'd had in a restaurant in Manhattan's Little Italy.

She'd been out at a birthday dinner with a group of other women -- all skilled professionals in their mid-thirties -- and came home really upset because of how they'd been treated by the waiting staff at the place where they'd eaten. Apparently, they'd been working class men, a generation or so older -- who'd spent the evening making, first snide sexual remarks, then suggesting they were lesbians when their comments fell on irritated ears -- the kind of bullshit a certain type of emasculated working class man sometimes engages in when confronted with women who have more power and status that they have.

She was pissed off because they'd tolerated it because they didn't want to ruin the birthday party by getting up and leaving, having to find somewhere else, etc.

Being somewhat new to American manners at the time, I asked, 'You didn't tip them, right?'

Not only had they tipped them for such service, they'd actually tipped them whatever the standard tipping rate is supposed to be -- double the sales tax or some such nonsense.

To this day, I still find this story mystifying. Why on earth would anybody give someone a gratuity for insulting and humiliating them? Is it because the habit is so deeply ingrained in the culture? Is it a class thing -- that these liberal women would feel bad about stiffing someone in a traditionally working class role? Were they just intimidated and worried they'd be exposed to yet more aggressive behaviour?

What really surprised me was that the idea of not tipping never even occurred to them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:45 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Hooters. Creepy place."

I always thought is is a brothel, based on the looks outside. Once a colleague at work ask me if I want to have a drink with him at hooters and I ask "At the brothel?" He said, not to worry he will show me what it is about.

I must say, food was cheap and decent and the girls were very nice. Possibly because we were young and fun but I did not consider the place "creepy". But based on the looks outside I always thought it is a brothel or strip club.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 4:48 AM on October 10, 2014


Hooters has a kids-eat-free night.

Trying to remember if I ever left a restaurant job for a reason other than sexual harassment.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:01 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hooters seems much creepier to people that don't eat there than it is inside. Inside, other than the waitresses being dressed in skimpy outfits and there being a little more management enforced chitchat between servers and customers, it's just a restaurant. I don't eat there often, but my wife loves the wings so we go a few times a year, and the experience isn't really creepy at all. I'm sure there are guys who make it creepy, but it doesn't need to be. Hell, in 2014, the outfits aren't even so skimpy that if you took the branding off them they'd be especially notable on the street.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:34 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Food service is a fetid mess of labor law violations anyway

Quoted for motherfucking truth.

Back of the house is much less harassment-prone, IME. Presumably it's something about the easy access to knives and fire, though.

I'd have to disagree there. The knives and fire are why the servers--and it's mostly servers on the receiving end, but not only-don't complain. Kitchens are not just a fetid mess of labour violations, they're also a fetid mess of sexual harassment and testosterone-fueled dick-swinging.

Hooters is just gross. Take off and nuke the site from orbit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:38 AM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've never been inside a Hooters (and don't intend to), but just from their advertising I'm astonished that they haven't long since been sued out of existence. As far as I can tell, sexual harassment is pretty much their entire business model. And the fact that there's apparently an entire market category of "breastaurants" is enough to make me wonder if an extinction-level asteroid impact would be such a bad thing.
posted by Zonker at 5:59 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hell, in 2014, the outfits aren't even so skimpy that if you took the branding off them they'd be especially notable on the street.

Do they still wear those weird nylons or tights? The one time I went, years ago, I couldn't stop staring at the 1970s beige that's basically fake-tan colored.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:40 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


A long time ago in a place not too far away, I was working at a fast food job with a bunch of teenage guys (talk about abundant and of low value...). Anyway, one of said guys would repeatedly "accidentally" bump into me whenever I passed by. It got more and more blatant, and I said, "the next time you do that, you're going to regret it."

One day, he put his hands on my ass. I pushed him away and screamed GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME, YOU FUCKING FUCK in front of a full restaurant of people. He was fired on the spot, and I was sent home (to calm down).

Twentyish years later, it still brings a smile to my face.
posted by desjardins at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2014 [33 favorites]


My daughter wears leggings-as-pants to her server job, because she believes her tips are better since she started doing that. But then, one of the uniform t-shirts she is required to wear says "Eat my taco!" on it.

Jesus, man, this is one of the bleakest and most poignant anecdotes about how capitalism and America's toxic pop culture compromises ours and our children's personal integrity and dignity on a daily basis I've come across in months. Imagining my own daughter (who's just a toddler now) pressured by economics into working some shitty restaurant gig where she's forced to wear demeaning and self-objectifying marketing slogans on her chest so she can be dangled in front of other people's noses like a carrot for the profit of some assholes somewhere I don't ever even get to meet in person--holy crap that makes me angry and disgusted!
posted by saulgoodman at 7:03 AM on October 10, 2014 [43 favorites]


Zonker

This: I've never been inside a Hooters (and don't intend to)

is probably why you wrongly think this:

but just from their advertising I'm astonished that they haven't long since been sued out of existence.

Some people in this thread sound like pearl-clutching moral crusaders denouncing what must go on in that ghastly establishment.

Bulgaroktonos is right. I've been a few times, it's just a restaurant/sports bar. The outfits really aren't even that skimpy by today's standards. A friend of mine worked at a Hooters knock-off place in Houston and she said it really wasn't much worse than other restaurants she'd worked at. If someone has proof that women at places like Hooters receive more harassment than women at normal places, please provide it.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:04 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, if she wanted to wear the shirt as personal expression, that'd be her business (even if it made me feel disappointed), but the thought that she might have to just put up with that kind of thing due to economic necessity? Jesus.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apart from the expected and yet still totally disgusting fact that women are sexually harassed more than men, I found it interesting that across the board, men receive more sexual harassment from management relative to customers, and women are the opposite. What's that about?
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:13 AM on October 10, 2014


Mod note: Couple comments deleted; fine to disagree, let's not make it personal. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:14 AM on October 10, 2014


Sorry if that comment came across as too personal/aggressive, but my point was, as much as we try to make these things abstract when we talk about them, they ultimately are personal to someone, somewhere. That's why dismissive insults about "pearl clutching" are so offensive. People aren't up in arms over the abstract theoretical moral principles at stake over these kinds of things. They're up in arms because they directly impact the quality of people's actual daily lives and those of the people they love.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:20 AM on October 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


If someone has proof that women at places like Hooters receive more harassment than women at normal places, please provide it.

I am not sure that a "more harrassment than women at normal places" standard is useful at defending Hooters.

I've never liked the place myself, though i've been dragged there on occasion by co workers. If memory serves me correctly the weird stockings are because the wait staff has to wear short shorts but is also required to wear hose because health codes or something, but my recollection is fuzzy. I do recall seeing the servers having to perform pjysical stunts like climbing over a stack of chairs, which not only served up their bodies for the ogling of the clientele but also struck me as risking injury at every turn. Gross.

What I do recall is that when you order the wings and the server asks if you want ranch or bleu cheese dressing with them, it's meant to sound like a choice between two options, but you're actually charged for an extra order. I can do without the whole scene.
posted by Gelatin at 7:22 AM on October 10, 2014


Never been to Hooters so can't comment on it in particular. In my experience the type of restaurant never mattered.

I've had about half a dozen or so restaurant jobs in my lifetime. The only one that I can recall where I didn't experience some form of sexual harassment was my first job at McDonalds. I can't even be 100% sure nothing happened there either because I was 15 and pretty clueless as to what it was all about. Didn't matter whether the place was corporate or Mom and Pop. The individually owned ones ended up being the worst in my experience because at least with a chain there was some avenue of recourse is something really bad happened.

I don't know what it is about this industry but from my own job experience it would be at the top of my list of industries to avoid because of it. Many of my other jobs were largely male heavy in terms of numbers and even they were way better harassment wise then the restaurant biz.
posted by Jalliah at 7:29 AM on October 10, 2014


The study gets into this a little bit, but doesn't emphasize it enough IMO: Most of the shifts a server works, don't generate enough tips to bring the servers up to the minimum wage. There are a couple shifts a week that are a bonanza, but if you won't work the lousy shifts you'll never get scheduled for the good ones. You're earning all your wages for the week on Saturday night, and you work Tuesday and Wednesday nights for nothing, to earn your Saturday. And if the manager thinks you aren't fuckable enough, or that you're going to object to a little teasing? You're not going to be working too many Saturdays. They aren't punishing you, oh no, it's just random luck; all the shifts gotta be covered and you just happened to get these other shifts.

As for the wage and hour law that says they have to pay you the difference if you don't get to minimum wage? I've never met anyone that has gotten that. Has anyone here ever met anyone who got that? Most people I know would just find other jobs.

As a restaurant patron you look around some lively cheery microbrewery, where all the tables are occupied, and you look at the generous gratuity you're laying down on your check, and think the servers must do well here. But you're getting that assiduous service because your waitress has only two tables, and that leisurely meal you just ate means you're one of only three tips she'll get all night. No, the place where the server makes a living wage, is the one where the service is terrible because your server is juggling ten tables and can't focus on you at all, the place where you wait forever for that refill on your coffee. If you're a restaurant manager, you want your customers to be impressed with the service you got, so you'll come back. Adding more servers costs them nothing, since they pay them $2.13 an hour, and if there aren't enough tips its not management's problem. Bring on the extra waitstaff, and let them compete. And when you have to put the person who complained of harassment onto a "good" shift? Put all the annoying employees on at once. That'll show 'em.
posted by elizilla at 7:31 AM on October 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


Hooters seems much creepier to people that don't eat there than it is inside. Inside, other than the waitresses being dressed in skimpy outfits and there being a little more management enforced chitchat between servers and customers, it's just a restaurant. I don't eat there often, but my wife loves the wings so we go a few times a year, and the experience isn't really creepy at all. I'm sure there are guys who make it creepy, but it doesn't need to be. Hell, in 2014, the outfits aren't even so skimpy that if you took the branding off them they'd be especially notable on the street.

I'm the wife referenced here and, yes, I LOVE their wings; Bulgaroktonos has accused me of being the only person who gets takeout from Hooters. There definitely is more management-enforced chitchat and I find that really irritating because shit, I just want to eat my wings and drink my root beer and be left alone, but most of the time it's okay. The one time a waitress has really sat down and hung out and not gotten our "uh, we're cool, we don't need to talk anymore" hints/body language (we weren't rude or anything, we just didn't really engage) we realized afterwards that there was only one other table of customers there and I think they were probably making her uncomfortable and she had to sit SOMEWHERE so she sat with us.

Although I generally agree with Bulgaroktonos on this, I do think the enforced chitchat has the potential to be a problem; if a customer is making you feel uncomfortable but management has the expectation that you will sit and hang out with them if there's no one else around, that's not okay. I don't think Hooters is too bad generally (although, again, this may partially be because I effing love their wings and so I am blinded to their flaws) but I think unfortunately often the customers who want to chat/have you sit with them the most are going to be the ones who are the worst/creepiest and that creates a bad dynamic and it's a problem if your manager won't let you avoid them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:35 AM on October 10, 2014


The study gets into this a little bit, but doesn't emphasize it enough IMO: Most of the shifts a server works, don't generate enough tips to bring the servers up to the minimum wage. There are a couple shifts a week that are a bonanza, but if you won't work the lousy shifts you'll never get scheduled for the good ones. You're earning all your wages for the week on Saturday night, and you work Tuesday and Wednesday nights for nothing, to earn your Saturday. And if the manager thinks you aren't fuckable enough, or that you're going to object to a little teasing? You're not going to be working too many Saturdays. They aren't punishing you, oh no, it's just random luck; all the shifts gotta be covered and you just happened to get these other shifts.


Oh ugh. Yes, yes. My last and if I can help it my forever last restaurant job. There were three shifts a week that were really good. I was regularly scheduled on them for several months and was told I did a great job. Then a new, younger and as the owner commented 'hot' woman was hired. A woman that had never worked as a server before either. Suddenly after she trained for two days she got the good shifts and I didn't. When I questioned what was going on I was told that quite frankly I wasn't capable of doing those shifts because I was too slow and they needed someone more capable. Sounds reasonable but oh so much bullshit. Everyone that worked there knew it too.
posted by Jalliah at 7:43 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


How is it that making all your employees wear t-shirts that say "Eat my Taco!" isn't sexual harassment, and yet, if one of the managers forced only a particular employee to wear a shirt bearing that message, it would almost certainly be sexual harrassment? If you're equally creepy and sexually suggestive to all your employees, the magic of abstraction makes it all okay? Brings to mind the old adage about one death being a tragedy and millions being a statistic. I think the popular acceptance of places like Hooters reveals a lot about the blind spots in our thinking about these things. It seems we use abstraction to distance ourselves emotionally from things it's inconvenient or uncomfortable to think about more concretely, maybe to smooth over the inconsistencies in our cultural values.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:55 AM on October 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


How is it that making all your employees wear t-shirts that say "Eat my Taco!" isn't sexual harassment

I was wondering the same thing. Does being (presumably) a restaurant that sells actual tacos give that tiny but necessary level of deniability? ("No, your honor, the shirt refers solely and exclusively to our Baja Ranch Chicken Taco promotion, and we are outraged at the suggestion that it could mean anything else.") Or maybe I'm outdated on this; there are certainly places* that require the female waitstaff to be considerably less dressed than at Hooters and that appears to be fully legal, so a taco t-shirt is perhaps unexceptional.

* I have only been to one of these places for a work lunch one time on a trip, but it seems to be a bit of a Thing, to try and get as close as possible to the titillating appeal of a strip club (e.g. waitresses in barely ass-covering skirts) while still being conservative enough to be a place where you can have a work lunch on the expense account or go with a group of people who would never go to a strip club.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:12 AM on October 10, 2014


Most of the shifts a server works, don't generate enough tips to bring the servers up to the minimum wage. There are a couple shifts a week that are a bonanza, but if you won't work the lousy shifts you'll never get scheduled for the good ones. You're earning all your wages for the week on Saturday night, and you work Tuesday and Wednesday nights for nothing, to earn your Saturday. And if the manager thinks you aren't fuckable enough, or that you're going to object to a little teasing? You're not going to be working too many Saturdays. They aren't punishing you, oh no, it's just random luck ...
God, tipping is such an evil, servile custom. It always gets me that the US, with its much-vaunted respect for individual liberty, so assiduously maintains this artifact of class-bound Old Europe. I grew up in a very anti-tipping country (New Zealand) and even after spending five years in tipping heartland I still have problems with tipping etiquette. (Which, of course, this being the UK, is never discussed, because like so many other things, it's just Too Awful and Embarrassing to Talk About. Apparently.) But of course, the US is exporting its horrible tipping culture as relentlessly as the rest of its popular culture and I wonder how much longer NZ can hold out. NZ now has dating and high school graduation ceremonies because of omnipresent American TV, so I imagine it will eventually have tipping too.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:19 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


People aren't up in arms over the abstract theoretical moral principles at stake over these kinds of things.

But I think they are, and I think the talk about Hooters in the OP and in this discussion are distractions from the actual problems of restaurants abusing their staff because the salacious sex aspect makes them easy target. So we focus on how awful these places are, but they're really no worse than restaurants in general, and if anything it's better that they're upfront about what they're hiring people to do.

Hooters and the like are clear about what they're looking for. It seems a lot shittier for a restaurant to appear "normal" and then (expressly or not) "encourage" the women to sex things up to sell, or create environments that lead them to do so like the leggings story above.

Or something like this from Gelatin above:

What I do recall is that when you order the wings and the server asks if you want ranch or bleu cheese dressing with them, it's meant to sound like a choice between two options, but you're actually charged for an extra order. I can do without the whole scene.

There are plenty of restaurants that pull shady tricks like this, and it has nothing to do with how covered the servers are.

Look, I know I sound like I worship Hooters and places like it but I've really only been there twice in my 30 year life. I just feel like there is extra, moralizing opprobrium cast these places that give places with an aura of "respectability" a pass when they're just as shitty. I think it gives cover to the "nice" places to get away treating their employees badly.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:33 AM on October 10, 2014


NZ now has dating and high school graduation ceremonies because of omnipresent American TV

No dating? what

how did people meet and start relationships before us tv? im so confused.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:35 AM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


... it's just a restaurant/sports bar.

My wife has this wonderful PPT she made some years back, about barbies. It just sort of walks through all the different ways you can get a barbie, and all the different things people make them into. And then it gets into the stuff that you can't buy as a barbie. Deaf Jewish Lesbian? Nope. Gay Ken? Nope.

Then she talks about this with her students. Invariably a bunch of them say "But it's just a doll!"

At which point she asks them: "Then why did you say you wouldn't let your son play with one?"
posted by lodurr at 8:37 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've been a few times, it's just a restaurant/sports bar. The outfits really aren't even that skimpy by today's standards.

Except that the servers are forced to wear them, whereas most women who wear skimpy tops have some sort of agency in the matter. The place is called Hooters, ffs, and the figleaf owl in the logo isn't fooling anyone.

As for tipping, it's a servile custom in the USA. Countries with sane minimum wage laws, tipping is extra, because you actually make a wage.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:58 AM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thing about tipping is that, while we may talk amongst the choir about the servility involved, in America tip wages are taken as an example of meritocracy. You work better, you get better tips.

Never, ever forget that Americans think they live in a meritocracy. It's the central public myth of this country.
posted by lodurr at 9:02 AM on October 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


And then it gets into the stuff that you can't buy as a barbie. Deaf Jewish Lesbian? Nope. Gay Ken? Nope.

There has (arguably) been a gay Ken .
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:03 AM on October 10, 2014


how did people meet and start relationships before us tv? im so confused.

Where do NZ babies come from?

*smiles enigmatically*

posted by Sonny Jim at 9:04 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


[sigh /]

"how is NZ babby formed? how NZ girl get pragnant?"
posted by lodurr at 9:08 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Hooters is disgusting on the level where young girls (and boys) are born into a world where there is a "family" restaurant where kids eat free and the theme is the sexualization of female breasts and the commodification of the pretty/fun/sexy girl-next-door, i.e., American femininity, female sexual availability and servility. QED.

That, however, is on a different level from the sexual harassment covered in this FPP.

I worked for a short time as a server and did, in fact, get sexually harassed by customers (not by any fellow staff, yay). It's not good, but it also took place in a kind of gloamy realm inside my consciousness, where everything I was being was pretending, so I was already basically set like a bear trap for any possible serving-related disasters and sexual harassment was "just" a variety thereof. In that sense it wasn't as "real" in that it didn't feel the same to me as when I'm sexually harassed on the street, but it was real in that it made me feel kind of bitter.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:03 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I think they are

You can think that, but rest assured, I'm actually thinking about my 2 year old daughter's real future, not about abstract moral ideals.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:06 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]



*smiles enigmatically*


ELVES i knew it
posted by poffin boffin at 10:20 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


> but it also took place in a kind of gloamy realm inside my consciousness, where everything I was being was pretending

What's fucked up about this is that it's quite close to the accounts I've heard from, say, strippers — when they're on stage, they go into a mode that detaches them from the reality of what they're actually doing. Things that would normally be distressing become OK because they're done behind a figurative mask.

There's always a performative aspect to waiting tables — enforced cheerfulness is the hardest of acting jobs — yet I'd wager that most non-“breastaurant” waiters don't feel like they need to wear a mask the way that a sex worker does.

And it's OK for Hooters to exist, and for people to choose to work there, at least in the ideal world where workplace sexual harassment and wage theft aren't actually problems. But it's not OK to fail to acknowledge what Hooters actually is. To treat it like just another restaurant, a place where you can have a workplace lunch or even bring the kids, is to mainstream something that really needs to stay in an opt-in niche.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:16 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I won't patronize any business which names itself and brands itself in a manner patronizing to my entire gender. I really don't see how that's over-reacting. I have to live in this world and it's ugly. The fact that people think naming a restaurant after a childish epithet for breasts and playing up the fact that the waitresses in short-shorts have to flirt with them is no worse than any other sports bar is part and parcel of the casual misogyny in American culture.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:00 PM on October 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


man, this article was really great. I particularly liked how it got into the nuts and bolts of how tipping systems incentive conflict between staff and create two separate industries that compete for employee performance.
posted by rebent at 1:00 PM on October 10, 2014


I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the U.S. "Hooters" is common slang for "Tits". So we're talking about the various merits of bringing the clan to a place called "Tits" to get some wings or whatever.

So, I guess I'm clutching my pearls, because gross. Somehow that makes straight up strip clubs seem sort of forthright and honest ... I can't explain exactly why.

And yes, let's get rid of tips and pay servers a decent wage!
posted by freecellwizard at 1:42 PM on October 10, 2014


1. Sexual harassment of women is constant and everywhere no matter what a woman is doing, because she exists.
2. It is most likely especially worse in any field where a woman has to be subservient/has little to no power/makes jack shit/has mostly women working in the field, such as say, working in a restaurant.
3. It is most likely especially worse whenever a woman has to sell her sexuality in some way, or look or act "bangable."

So um...I'm supposed to be shocked by this?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:57 PM on October 10, 2014


There are places where the gender and body shape of the staff is more important to the management than the quality of service such staff provides. I do not frequent such establishments.
posted by yesster at 2:01 AM on October 11, 2014


... has mostly women working in the field ...

That's an interesting point. To elaborate, the argument usually goes: The more important someone's role is, the more they'll be devalued (to prevent them from understanding their importance). E.g., childrearing is devalued, because we're utterly dependent on the person rearing the children. Restaurants are utterly dependent on the servers, so the servers are the lowest of the low.

It makes sense, and it seems to hold, AFAICS.

But we still have to deal with the fact that sometimes really important roles get deified. It's only sometimes, though. Doctors, e.g., or firefighters.

Not sure how to sensibly resolve this. I'm not sure it qualifies as a paradox, but it bears a strong superficial resemblance to one...
posted by lodurr at 4:11 AM on October 12, 2014


2 years ago I worked in a fancy Italian restaurant that posted a want ad for bussers and hostesses. Since I am white and was able to afford a fancy outfit, I was hired as a hostess despite negligible food service experience. It was the EASIEST money I've ever made- sure, I had to manage tables but for the majority of my shifts my job was to literally just stand there and smile. When I would try to help bring out food or clear tables I was told that I needed to remain in the front of the restaurant despite no customers coming in. My boss would frequently stand next to me and ask if I would drink with him after work and make jokes about us getting married so he could have an excuse to buy me things. At the end of the shift it was my job to wash the windows in the front, and the manager would summon over his old man friends, who would watch me bend over to clean them and make comments about my body. The bartender asked me what color underwear I was wearing every day. I was told that my outfits needed to be less professional and that "the boss likes it" when hostesses wear short skirts and see-through tops. It was a creepy job and it was horrible that I got paid the same as the bussers (largely women of color) who worked 100x harder than I did and were probably just as harrassed. I got out of there real quick.
posted by pugh at 1:08 PM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


1. Sexual harassment of women is constant and everywhere no matter what a woman is doing, because she exists.
2. It is most likely especially worse in any field where a woman has to be subservient/has little to no power/makes jack shit/has mostly women working in the field, such as say, working in a restaurant.
3. It is most likely especially worse whenever a woman has to sell her sexuality in some way, or look or act "bangable."

So um...I'm supposed to be shocked by this?


If you do consider this a real problem, why are you backhandedly dismissing it like this?

It's useful to do research and get data on a problem even if many people will respond to it with a snide "No shit, Sherlock — you had to do a study to find that out?" Yes, in fact, they did have to do a study if they wanted to have actual research and data to point to that can't be refuted with a handwave and an airy "that's just anecdotal."

I'm not surprised by these results. I don't have to be surprised to be glad this report now exists as a resource for people trying to change things.
posted by Lexica at 9:00 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


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