The UK does not want 'Hooters'. It is a retrograde step for a country dedicated to gender equality

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

News coverage of Bristol Hooters' closure

A few trickles of news coverage about the closure of Hooters in Bristol.

Here it is on the BBC News website: “Bristol Hooters restaurant closes”. (Thanks for the link to our site, BBC!)

And a suitably inaccurate article in the notoriously unsupportive Bristol Evening Post (for instance, despite what the headline tells you, Hooters wasn’t a “burger chain” – it sold chicken wings and “curley fries” [SIC]); the Brighton branch of Hooters has thankfully never opened; and the petition gained 1,500 signatures, not the 700 mentioned…): “American burger chain Hooters closes restaurant on Bristol Harbourside"

Bristol Fawcett has also released a short statement about the closure of Hooters:

“Bristol Fawcett, together with many others, protested about and campaigned against the opening of Hooters on Bristol’s Harbourside in autumn 2010.

"The Hooters brand is outdated and does not have a place in any modern city that values equality. The men, women and children of Bristol always deserved better than a restaurant that served women up as sexual commodities, on the menu alongside chicken wings and fries. The Hooters mix of marketing offer, catering both to stag parties and children’s birthday parties, was particularly toxic.

"It is never a cause for celebration that a business has failed, and we are mindful that people have lost their jobs. We hope that whatever new business arrives to take up residence in the heart of Bristol’s historic Harbourside will be more in tune with the progressive aspirations of our city.”

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Festive sexism - take a stand!

It’s Christmas time, mistletoe and wine… If you’re heading to your work’s Christmas party this year, hopefully it’ll be a fun excuse to let your hair down at your company’s expense. With any luck, the worst that’ll happen is you’ll wake up the next day with a sore head. And that’s what the case will be for most people.

But there is still a tiny percentage of companies who have their heads in the 1970s and think that sexism (the belief that one gender deserves inferior treatment) is still just peachy. Whether it’s inappropriate comments or gestures towards colleagues (drunkenness is no excuse), or the location of the party in a retro-sexist dive (like Hooters)… you don’t need to accept workplace sexism.

And with regards to your business’s Christmas party: it doesn’t matter if sexism happens outside of the workplace because it is still your company’s concern.

We should also add that we realise sexism works both ways – and men can be just as affected by sexism as women. It’s also perfectly reasonable for men to be offended if their office has chosen to host their staff party in Hooters or a similarly offensive dump.

If you’re going to your work’s Christmas party, or you’re organising your office Christmas do, please make sure you’re doing so fairly.

The Facts

Despite 40-years of anti-discrimination legislation in the UK, sexism is sadly still rife in many companies (certainly not all – and we salute the many companies that are pleasant and fair places to work).

Too often, sexism fails to be identified or called up, often because the victims don’t realise why it is they feel so uncomfortable or upset. Often it is because - via the media and peer pressure - they’re told to accept casual sexism, and made to feel frigid for taking a stand.

It shouldn’t be that way.

A 2008 report from the Fawcett Society shows workplace sexism lurks:

In the office, where 16% of men who have access to the internet have viewed pornography at work, and 15% of men have emailed sexual images to colleagues.

When entertaining clients, and it has become increasingly common to entertain clients in lap dancing clubs. Lap dancing clubs are increasingly targeting the corporate sector through tailored marketing.

The Law

This advice comes from About Equal Opportunities: “Sexism in the workplace, though illegal, is still an issue across the United Kingdom. Though there are laws in place to protect the rights of all workers, many workplaces seem to ignore these laws and continue on as they see fit. A concerted effort from all employers and employees is needed to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and with respect at work. And why would any one want to settle for any less?”

Discrimination at work is an important issue, and Directgov has clear guidelines about what action you can take.

Directgov says: “If you think you are being discriminated against you may be able to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal for discrimination. However, it's best to talk to your employer first to try to sort out the matter informally. You are entitled to write to your employer if you think you have been discriminated against or harassed because of your sex.”

Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on employment rights issues. If you are a member of a trade union, you can also get help, support and advice from them.

There may be outward signs that women are making progress at work, but a female at the top of a company doesn't neatly spell the end of sexism.

PS: Anyone who is planning a works Christmas do at Hooters (or a similarly sexist establishment) should bear in mind that they may be putting pressure on colleagues to attend an event in an environment where they may well feel uncomfortable, and which they may feel encourages inappropriate and sexist behaviour.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

We're still here...

I know this blog has been a little quiet in recent months, but don't worry... we're still very much here, and we're still very much keeping an eye on Hooters in Bristol and what they're up to. We're not the only ones, either... Various councillors at Bristol City Council are also concerned about the 'establishment' and an inquiry is pending. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Responding to some criticisms… Part Four

Many people think we are targeting the women who work at Hooters – whether by blaming them for choosing to work there, or by judging them. We regularly get accused of believing that the women who work there are unintelligent, have no other talents than their appearance, and that they have been forced to work there.

I cannot be much more clear than saying: we never said these things. Our campaign is not to put women out of work, nor to mock their ‘career choice’ (though one can’t help but wonder why, if they are as intelligent as they keep telling us they are, they fail to see they’re being exploited by a patriarchal system, or they use their often –mentioned qualifications and skills to earn a higher income in a better job. Recession issues, aside.) We have no argument with the individuals who have made the choice to work there, or enter bikini contests, or perform cheerleader and hula hoop routines in front of drunken men. We may wonder why they want to do it (and would welcome their comments – if given without abuse), but we are not telling them they should not do it.

We know that is not what feminism, equality and liberalism is about.

For ill-informed people to continually claim otherwise is unhelpful and misleading.

Responding to some criticisms… Part Three

Some people don’t understand the difference between objectifying women at Hooters, and objectifying men at Butlers in the Buff etc.

We don’t like the objectification of men anymore than the objectification of women. There are no grounds for suggesting otherwise. However, the people behind this campaign against Hooters are feminist activists (who also work on plenty of other feminist activist campaigns as well as the Hooters one) and therefore they concentrate their activism on issues affecting women. If somebody else wishes to campaign against the objectification of men in whatever form, I’m sure many of us will sign petitions and show support – but we don’t have the time to take this up. However, if it is an area any readers of this post are particularly concerned about, there are many ways they could get involved in taking a stand. It is an area that needs addressing.

As far as I’m concerned, the ‘argument’ that as men are objectified in magazines (such as Heat’s ‘Torso of the Week’ page), or as butlers with their bum cheeks hanging out, then it’s OK to objectify women in a similar way makes absolutely no sense. It makes as little sense to me as its sister ‘argument’ about there being plenty of young women on a Friday and Saturday night who go out wearing very little, or women on beaches wearing string bikinis. Come on, doubters, just join the dots of that nonsensical theory.