Owl Pass on the Wings

Have you ever seen a Hooters commercial? Their slogan is "delightfully tacky yet unrefined". Perhaps "blatantly sexist and objectifying" would be a little more accurate slogan. From what I can ascertain you are likely not going to see a male server at Hooters. What you are going to see is a women, and their... assets. I never thought I'd be advocating for the Puritanesque uniforms of Bob Evans during the 1980's, but I am. I've eaten a Hooters once in my life. It was my senior year in high school and a female classmate had recently been hired at the downtown Cleveland location. While doing some record shopping in Cleveland my two mates suggested going to Hooters to have dinner because Tiffany was working there and she could "give us the hook up". Eating for less was always a practice I tried to be involved in, and given I was hungry and Hooters was close by I obliged. I did not know what I was in for.

We got to Hooters shortly thereafter and it didn't take me long to feel terrifically awkward and uncomfortable. As we entered the restaurant I quickly learned why the restaurant was named Hooters. It became apparent that their was a strict uniform policy and I was also able to surmise the company's hiring practices. As an eighteen year old male, I cannot say that there weren't a few physically appealing waitresses there, but I felt horrible. As we were shown to our table, I was rapidly losing my appetite. I just felt sad for the women working there. I was not judging them, but it just made me feel empathy for what they were doing to make a buck and likely what they faced in terms of the predominately male patrons and the male manager. their were being objectified and everyone knew it. I don't think I led a particularly innocent life, but I had never really seen sexism so blatantly portrayed in front of me. I kept thinking about a scenario where both of my sisters were working at Hooters and envisioned how they would likely be disrespected as part of their job; dealing with come-on's and innuendo shift-after-shift, day-after-day.

I ordered without looking up from my menu. I ate quietly staring intently at my plate. If I would have driven I would have left. I took most of my wings home. I couldn't eat. I was out of my element and I felt like a chauvinist just for sitting in the restaurant. I've never experienced a more uncomfortable meal and I have never eaten at a Hooters since. I hope most women wanting to work in the food service industry can make a good wage elsewhere and with a reasonable uniform.

2 comments:

Maureen said...

I really enjoyed this post and had an almost identical experience at Hooters. I am a female and when I was younger my boyfriend at the time proposed we eat at Hooters for dinner. Me, being the young, simple minded girlfriend I was at the time (those times have changed thank goodness!), I happily agreed. I thought, if I eat at Hooters he'll think I'm open minded and "cool" with it. As I look back now I wish I could have realized what message I was portraying, but what's done is done.

As I sat in Hooters thinking and feeling the exact feelings you experienced I started wondering. Whose job is it to teach these young women about self respect and self dignity. If they don't get this message at home, then where will they get it?

I am an educator taking graduate courses and currently I am in a multicultural class. We've been talking about different aspects of multicultural education and the role we as educators have the power to play in the lives of our students. Is sexism and self respect, especially in the lives of our female students, something we need to make a priority? It's a fine line to walk when approaching such sensitive and sometimes controversial topics. What roles should educators and schools play in shaping the society we live? We are after all, possibly the most influential people in the lives of our young population. It's time we take a more active role in helping to shape a society in which we can be proud!

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed seeing a male perspective like this! I have never ate at hooters bc I just dont agree with women degrading themselves in such a maner. It is in my book along with stip clubs. The are degrading themselves for a dollar! I think its disguisting. Well my best friends sister who by the way is beautiful just recently got hired at hooters. She is 18. Well my best friend and their mother are both estatic that she got hired as a hooters girl. I cant believe that they would be that happy about it. Personally I would NOT condone my child living under my roof wanting to degrade themselves by wearing shorts up to their ass cheeks and a tank top revealing everything but the nipple while waiting tables! Yea they could do it...but not while livin under my roof. I just feel it its trashy and degrading. Not all of us woman want to be objectified and judge on our sex appeal. I have plenty of confidence and I dont feel the need to show off all my assets in order to get some attention. Its sad that we allow our generation to think that this is ok. I recently had a boyfriend that tried to tell me I was insecure bc I did not agree with him going to the stip club. I told him that if he felt the need to do that then I wasnt going to be with him. He had the nerve to ask me to go as well. He never did see my view on the matter.