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

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Hooters, Sexism and the Office Christmas Party

 

If you're not happy about your office having their staff Christmas party at Hooters, you don't have to put up with it. You are entitled to be unhappy.

The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment, vocational training, education, the provision and sale of goods, facilities and services, premises and the exercise of public functions due to their sex/gender.

Institutionalised sexism is unacceptable. Whether in the office or at a work gathering, such as the Christmas party. And if your office has decided to hold its Christmas party at Hooters this year (or an equally grotesque venue) - and you're not happy about it - you've every right to react. Take your employer to court and, if you win, and you could be as successful as this woman is right now.

Directgov, the Government's official website for all workplace matters, is clear on the fact that sexism at an office party in an external environment is just as valid as sexism in the actual office.  The website says: "You have the right not to be harassed or made fun of at work or in a work-related setting (eg an office party). Harassment means offensive or intimidating behaviour - sexist language or racial abuse, which aims to humiliate, undermine or injure its target or has that effect. For example, allowing displays or distribution of sexually explicit material or giving someone a potentially offensive nickname."

If you feel discriminated against because of where your company has held its Christmas party (or for any other reason at work), you should first raise this with your HR department in writing, but also follow it up with Directgov, Unison, or the Citizens' Advice Bureau. You deserve better.

Don't take sexism lying down!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Poultney confirms Hooters is "tacky"

Cllr Guy James Baiden Poultney (Lib Dem, guy.poultney@bristol.gov.uk) - to give him his full name - is, unfortunately, the chair of the licensing committee at Bristol City Council. And he was one of the three councillors on the all male licensing committee that voted in the license for Hooters: despite the much publicised and highly vocal complaints from residents, police, women's groups, feminists etc.


As we know, Cllr Poultney claimed Hooters offered the city "something different". Apparently, this has since been narrowed down to the lack of "vertical drinking" in the establishment. Which confused us somewhat, as there are MANY places in Bristol offering a lack of vertical drinking. They're called restaurants. Some of them are even near to Hooters. One is next door, The Living Room. Another is opposite. Pizza Express. You get the idea.

Last Thursday (the UN's End Violence to Women Day), Cllr Poultney, in his extraordinary capacity as a member of the Domestic Violence Forum at the council (!!!), chose to attend the photo opportunity at the council house, in order to promote the council's apparent involvement with an exhibition of art and writing by survivors of abuse. He struggled to understand why some of those present felt extremely angered and upset by his presence at such a sensitive event, or why we felt he was a hypocrite. But he's got a MSc - how can he be so blind as to understand such a simple connection?!

In a chatty aside, Cllr Poultney confirmed he had not been to Bristol's Hooters and had no intention of going. "Why not?" "It's tacky, it's not my kind of place," he explained. "So why did you vote it in?" Apparently he had no choice. Extraordinary.

I think he should be forced to go and gobble up a plate of the intensively-farmed, greasy chicken, while some chilly, half naked girls shiver as they bring yet more food to his masterly table and giggle at his every word. Obviously, he should pay the extrortionate bill from his own pocket. Then he'd realise exactly what kind of retro-sexist, misogynist hell he has inflicted on the unwilling victims, sorry, citizens of Bristol.

NB: A typically inaccurate account of the event can be read here.

UPDATE, Friday: See here for the latest rubbish printed by the misogynist Evening Post on this matter. Front page, no less! Absolute idiots.

Unclean! Unclean! Stay away from Hooters in Cardiff!

Well, it had to be done, for the same reason that visiting the Bristol dump had to be done - in order to be able to say we'd been to the sneering pro-Hooters lobby who assume we've never been. Ha.

It was underwhelming, though. The place was packed out as it was opening week, and it is well located opposite a huge music venue and near a big shopping centre, and it's generally much more central than the Bristol or Nottingham branches are.

But there were no whooping cheers greeting anyone as we went in. The queue was out of the door, so surely the staff should have been hyped at their popularity? Instead, the gangs of young men in tight t-shirts and no coats were looking lost and baffled as they hung around the doorway in an unorganised fashion (as the door host wasn't organising anyone to keep them out of the way), and it was 15 minutes before we were begrudgingly seated.

We asked for a drinks menu, and were brought a tatty piece of white A4 paper on which someone had hurriedly typed a few expensive drinks prices. No expense spared on the menu - which was surprising considering the charges asked for average quality drinks. We did look at the food menu, but lost our appetite upon seeing the bare female bottoms and warning signs about putting on weight next to the solitary pudding. Hmm.

After another 15 minutes, still no one had come to take our order so we got up and walked out. No one asked us why. But in our dreary 30 minutes in the company of Cardiff Hooters we observed several things:
  1. No one looked very happy. The staff looked visibly harried and stressed. The customers looked a bit baffled and bemused. They weren't having as good a time as Hooters' publicity machine kept telling them they ought to be. 'Hooters makes you happy' scream the signs. There was little evidence of it from the staff or customers though.
  2. Hardly anyone had any food in front of them. Which seemed odd, as I'd been led to believe this was a restaurant rather than a bar. Maybe service was just incredibly slow, or maybe the boys had only come to look at the grumpy girls...?
  3. The wealth of sexist merchandise was suffocating. From nudie playing cards to bumper stickers saying 'My other girlfriend is a Hooters girl', to the obligatory bikini calendar. Yuk. It's all very visible and displayed next to the door for you to browse while you wait (endlessly) for a table. Not at all suitable for families.
  4. Fortunately, we didn't see any families here. Not one. Which is odd, as I thought Hooters was as family-friendly as Frankie & Benny's or TGI's... like heck it is.
  5. The ladies' toilets had no paper in the dispensers, which wasn't good enough at only 8pm. Especially considering that (despite the 99% female staff), the customers were about 5% female, so there can't have been high demand for them. The toilets were also in a bad state of cleanliness. There was scrunched up old toilet paper on the floor of the cubicles, and there were lipstick-marked and dirty tissues scattered around the sinks. Deeply unpleasant.
  6. Also, the ladies' toilets are situated right next to the kitchen, so all you can hear is the shouting and clattering from the kitchen staff while you are in there. Also unpleasant. And it felt unhygienic having a toilet so close to the kitchen.
  7. We also observed there were no door staff, as in bouncers or security, at all. Surely this was one of the licensing conditions? It certainly was in Bristol. (The guy in the photo above is a potential customer having a ciggie).
Overall, Hooters Cardiff got a big thumbs down for service, cleanliness, effort or quality.  If, after 30 minutes, we were unable to get even a drink, I hold out little hope for anyone ever getting any food to eat there. Sadly, it'll probably thrive as it's in a good spot and Cardiff unfortunately has a bad reputation already for binge drinking and lad culture. But I hope it shrivels up and dies.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Hell Yeah, it’s Hooters in Cardiff

Cardiff Hooters opened it’s sweaty, baseball-bat encrusted doors on Monday, and has since enjoyed a flurry of favourable reports on the Cardiff Blog arm of the Guardian newspaper’s website. Here are some links:

Here’s one, here’s another one, and, oh look, here’s one more. Here’s their restaurant review.
Good lord, there's ANOTHER one. I’ll stop here, but doubtless there are other, older references, too. Yawny, yawn yawn.

All this coverage would be fine if, instead of masquerading as unbiased news reportage, it actually was unbiased news reportage. Instead, while reporting the news (ie, a bar called Hooters has opened on a high street in central Cardiff, and some silly old stick-in-the-muds moaned), the stories have all been given a twist of supercilious sneer towards the campaigners, and a ‘Hell yeah, to Hooters.’ No mention of the soft porn elements of Hooters ANYWHERE. Yet go in any Hooters (or even visit their website), and they're spunked up in your face. Nice. So none of these many stories have actually given readers the full information. Hmm.

Fortunately, the open-minded folk over at the Cardiff Guardian offered a tentative arm to us to put forward our factually-rounded opinions, which we did, after gritting our teeth and visiting the new breastaurant. We were really pleased with this offer and gratefully welcomed the opportunity to finally put across the fully-informed side of the Hooters soft porn business. However, upon reflection, the Cardiff Guardian Blog decided the piece was full of “unsubstantiated points” and did not wish to print it. Oh. (NB: I assured them that every single word was true and offered to send them references to substantiate every point they doubted, but they declined to answer). Oh well.

So, sadly, yet ANOTHER example of a newspaper brand not wishing to allow its readers to know the full story of a current topic. One which is especially relevant in light of yesterday being the UN’s International End Violence Against Women Day.

Suffice to say that visiting Cardiff Hooters was depressing. Not least for that fact that despite it only having been open for four days, neither the staff nor customers seemed very happy. But I thought Hooters made you happy? There were even posters there to tell me so. I found these most informative. Along with the vests worn by the staff that said 'Hooters', so that I knew where their breasts were.

My male friend and I queued among pumped young men in tight t-shirts, and observed that 95% of the customers fitted this description. Despite being primed to expect cheers on arrival, no one received such a welcome. All we got was a badly managed queue, and an instruction to wait. A bit later, a cross Hooters’ girl looked at us then walked off. We weren’t the only ones being ignored. After half an hour of no service we left. Even the seated customers didn’t look like they were having quite as good a time at Hooters as they’d been led to believe. And surprisingly few of them actually had any food in front of them.

Considering that Bill McTaggart, who has the dubious honour of owning the UK Hooters franchise, was wandering around looking like an old man baffled to find himself at a teenage slumber party, I’d have thought service would have been better. To be clear: he was fully clothed.
  • Hooters needs to acknowledge it is part of the sex industry, and take responsibility for the part it plays in the normalisation of violence against women. 
  • Newspapers (whether national, local or online) need to stop printing half the story, and indulge their readers with the full facts. How else can people make an informed decision? Well, that’s what I was taught at my journalism course, but maybe that’s a silly, old-fashioned notion.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Update on Leeds M&S/Hooters action

The wonderful feminist women and men of Leeds did a brilliant job last Friday making their feelings known at the M&S talk at their uni about how M&S had been 'supporting' women for decades.

I'm told: "It went really well and everyone attending the talk was really interested in the Boycott M&S campaign and lots of leaflets got given out. Apparently there was a glass wall separating the M&S people and Fem Soc, so Fem Soc got lots of evil looks from the M&S people and one person from M&S came outside to ask if they were students (because I guess if they weren't they would have tried to get them removed). ... I know it probably won't change much but it's good to show that students aren't just consumers, and that we object to our degrees being linked to M&S (and Hooters). It's good to annoy M&S wherever they go, maybe they will think twice next time!"

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Protest against M&S in Leeds

Thank you to the wonderful people of Leeds who have spotted that a representative from M&S's lingerie department is giving a talk at their university on Friday, November 5, called: "M&S Lingerie: Supporting Women Since 1926". Pah! We know that's not true.

Not content to let this event lie, the inspirational folk at Leeds have organised a protest - read more about it here. And there is an excellent Facebook page that someone at Leeds has created here, which is extremely informative about other reasons why M&S is such a misguided and hypocritical company.

Including a quote from 2009, in which M&S CEO Stuart Rose told The Observer: "Girls today have never had it so good, right? Apart from the fact that you've got more equality than you ever can deal with, the fact of the matter is that you've got real democracy and there really are no glass ceilings, despite the fact that some of you moan about it all the time.” 

Thank you to the people of Leeds. Please keep us updated with your hard work.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Guest Writer: Percy the Sexist Pig Reviews Hooters

PERCY THE SEXIST PIG GOES TO HOOTERS

There's been so much fuss in the papers lately about this silly old breast-themed restaurant that's opened up in Bristol's recently regenerated Harbourside (a conservation area, no less), that I decided to head down and see it for myself. I just don't understand the hoo-hah. These bloody wimmin have even kicked up a stink in my home sty up in London's Oxford Street, distributing thousands of leaflets suggesting M&S is partly at fault for sub-letting their former food shop to this lovely chain of breast-themed restaurants.

What's the problem? When my friend (the Ugly Duckling) and I arrived at Hooters, we were greeted with whoops and cheers as the lovely ladies from all over the restaurant rushed to seat us. They had no qualms about inviting two farmyard animals into a public place selling food - all are welcome here.

When we were seated at our orange booth, I was pleased to see everything was coated in plastic, as sometimes I like to roll in my food, and plastic is much easier to clean than cotton. I was also thrilled to see a roll of kitchen towels on the table, as I'm such a mucky eater - and frankly, the Ugly Duckling is so ugly that I was glad to construct a paper bag to go over her head so I didn't have to look at her while I ate - I could still see her chest just fine, though.

However, being mere animals, we don't have much money, and found most things on the menu out of our reach. I refuse to work because I'm a lazy bastard, and the Ugly Duckling is too ugly to work so instead she claims benefits, so we scrapped together what pennies we could afford for two soft drinks (£1.80 each) and some wings and fries to share (nearly £11) - we won't be able to afford to eat for the rest of the week now, and can only hope to find some sxraps in the bottom of Tesco's bins to sustain us.

The food was really greasy, too, and I started to feel quite queasy. Ugly Duckling didn't eat much either, and started looking a bit green around the gills. In fact, she went off to the 'John Crapper' (as the sign labelled it) and didn't come back for ages. Which was a relief, as she is pig ugly. Hang on, 'pig' ugly? But I'm a pig and I'm brilliant.

Hmm. Am not so sure this Hooters place is up to much. It was damn expensive for an everyday pig like me, and I had to leave before 9pm as I wasn't accompanied by my mum. I did enjoy looking at Danny Dyer on the TV screens though - I really support his views on how to deal with ex-girlfriends. He's one of my idols. Him and Dr Hootie.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Dearest Hooters: We saw this and thought of you...

Perhaps the Hooters PR and Marketing people could learn something from this handy pyramid of sexist terms? For starters, calling their staff 'girls" is damn sexist.

Obviously, we knew this already. But it's handy for Hooters to have a cut-out-and-keep guide, perhaps to pin up next to the printer for next time they make their bikini calendars or soft porn DVDs.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

50 Percy the Sexist Pigs descend on Marks and Spencer, Oxford Circus!



50 Percy the Sexist Pigs descended on Marks and Spencer, Oxford Circus today to ask why they are supporting the Hooters breasturant chain.  Around 1200 flyers were handed out inside and outside the store.  The announcement about the activism went out at the Feminist in London Conference today at which 1000 feminists were present. 

The manager was requested but decided not to come and talk to Percy.  Would he/she care to comment on the blog?  We'd love to hear from them. 

Just a very small selection of the places where flyers were left for customers to see! 

Where will Percy strike next?




Friday, 22 October 2010

PERCY THE PIG "CONFUSED" BY ACTION AGAINST M&S

***RETAIL GIANT TEAMS UP WITH 
BREAST THEMED FAMILY RESTAURANT***

***PROTESTORS IN PIG MASKS KICKING UP A STINK***


On Saturday, October 23, Marks & Spencer's flagship store on Oxford Street will be visited by protestors wearing pig masks and distributing leaflets publicising the retail giant's decision to sublet one of its buildings to be used for a Hooters breast-themed family restaurant.

Says Percy: "I am confused. What have Marks & Spencer done wrong? I know we have a Gold Standard ethical policy but we draw the line at sexism and see no place for this to be a concern for us.
“I am an integral part of a Marks & Spencer's Plan A Gold Standard ethical policy, but my calm domain is shattered by the actions of a bunch of crazed activists in pig masks. All because Marks & Spencer have sublet premises in Bristol to this chain of American themed eateries. The only thing wrong with Hooters seems to be that they uphold Neanderthal views and employment practices concerning the role of women in society and in the workplace.”

However, crusading Miss Piggy retorted: "Marks & Spencer should acknowledge their responsibilities, not only in their retail policies, but in the effects of their business decisions. Hooters’ attitudes to women has no place in a modern society. Hooters is a shabby and aggressive example of misogyny, with which I, even as a mere pig, will have no truck. Shame on Marks and Spencer."

Piglet, Babe and The Three Little Pigs are, of course, too young to be allowed on the premises after 9pm, but issued this joint statement: "Percy and his masters at M&S have done us pigs a great disservice.  No pig would wish to be seen dead (whether as pork or otherwise) in Hooters - no pig that is, apart from the sexist pigs who we confidently predict will attend the breastaurant."

Statement from meeting on commerical sexual exploitation

I think it’s worth starting by addressing some of the commonly aired, and worrying, misperceptions about why feminists and gender equality experts feel strongly about SEVs and about the proliferation of establishments and businesses that trade on what is in any case a narrow definition of women as sexually available for a price.

Those misperceptions are: that we are against freedom of expression; that we dislike or are offended by sex; and that we think that men are innately bad, inadequate, violent, or sexist.  Not true, not by a long way.

Bristol Fawcett exists because the society we find ourselves living in is one that is actively sexist, and we campaign for progress to change that. 

Rigid ideas about what boys are like, what girls are like, what men and women are like held sway in our past – to the extent that women were not entitled to vote until just under a hundred years ago.  But those attitudes, which restricted the possibilities for men and women alike to be who they wanted to be and to reach their potential as fully autonomous human beings – are still very much with us today. 

We are all shaped by our experiences, and we build our notions of ourselves from observing the ways that we are treated by others, the ways that people like us are treated by others, and the social sanctions that are or are not applied when we are treated as lesser human beings or less deserving of respect, dignity or indeed the same pay packet as others around us.  The flip side of the coin for men and boys is that if they see around them every day clear messages that women and girls are to be given less attention and airspace than them (except in their role as objects of sexual attention), less recognition for the work that they do, less respect (and I am thinking here of the sign up in Bristol Hooters that says “Caution – blondes thinking!” – the sign is upside down) - then of course that feeds in to a sense of entitlement to treat women and girls as somehow lesser beings than them.  It would be impossible for it not to.  That’s why the legal duties on public authorities – which of course include local councils and their licensing committees, as well as the police – were introduced to require an active promotion of equality and an active position against discrimination and harassment – to tackle the unequal status quo.

This year saw the publication of Natasha Walter’s book, “Living Dolls: the Return of Sexism”.  She captures in her book the experience of many gender equality campaigners of her and my generation, and charts the journey from the point in the 1980s when many of us felt that real change was happening for women and men, in terms of economic justice, in terms of changes in the law (eg it finally became unlawful in the 90s for husbands to rape their wives – and men became entitled to paternity leave) and so on. 

But with the strengthening of legislation that supports the equality of women and men in the home, in the workplace and in public life, we have seen at the same time a backlash in the form of a wholesale cultural push to separate boys and girls, men and women, into two classes of human being.  At the forefront of this ‘newly returned’ sexism is the social pressure to define women by what they look like and to judge women by how well they perform as objects for male sexual gratification. (Before someone jumps in to say, “what about the men? This is happening to men too” I should say that what I am talking about here is the role of sexualisation in the context of wide-ranging and completely undisputed structural inequality that puts women beneath men, and where women are valued beneath men).

The research evidence is clear on these points:

•    Pressure on women and girls to look and behave in certain ways negatively affects their self-esteem and their mental health.
•    Gender inequality is reinforced, and hopes for a level playing field are dashed, when women are valued for their supposed sex appeal at the expense of their other attributes and qualities.
•    After being exposed to images that sexually objectify women, men are significantly more accepting of sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, rape myths, and sex role stereotypes.

In rape and sexual assault cases, when women and girls have been blamed as the architects of their own misfortune for wearing certain clothes, or looking and behaving a certain way, it is NOT feminists who have made those pronouncements.  It IS feminists who have stood up for the rights of women and girls to express themselves, and their own sexuality, on their own terms. 

Women’s control over their own sexuality is undermined, not enhanced, by pervasive messages in the media and in society about what women’s sexuality ‘should be’ and when and how it ‘should be’ expressed. 

The reason Bristol Fawcett is campaigning for a ‘nil’ cap on sex entertainment venues in Bristol is because we believe that sex entertainment venues:
•    Exploit women and put women workers at risk
•    Encourage sexism and harmful sexist attitudes that extend beyond the confines of those venues.

Finally, I’d just like to quote a study from the Journal of Sex Research (2003, 40, 61-75).  Over half the men who were interviewed for this study who frequented lapdancing clubs said that one of their motivations for visiting clubs was to get away from what they saw as the rules for behaviour that constrained them, for example when interacting with female colleagues at work.  One participant said:
“You can go in there and shop for a piece of meat, quote unquote, so to speak.  I mean, you want to see a girl run around naked, have her come over, pay her to do a dance or two or three and walk away and not even ask her name.  Total distancing.”

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

"Sneering, ill-informed, factually incorrect, spitting, ranters." Yup, that's us.

Since the middle of August, the No To Hooters in Bristol campaign has been going strong and refusing to give up, despite a full flowing tide of bile ricocheting our way from the invisible but vocal folk who think that the presence of a breastaurant in which the naïve staff are willingly complicit in their own exploitation is A Good Thing for a city that prides itself on diversity.

Since August 19, a petition to try and prevent Hooters opening has seen around 1,000 people sign up (Say Yes To Hooters has 12 to date)… including one or two people who mistakenly took signing the petition as an opportunity to tell us what a bunch of sad losers we were. The petition is still open if you haven’t added your name yet but would like to.

We’ve been called a heck of a lot of deeply unpleasant names in that time. To hear a list of those names, out of context, you might assume we were paedophiles or murderers. But no, we are women and men who believe women should not be treated as sex objects. If we were campaigning for racial equality, there is no way that we would have received the same torrent of hate from the media.

Back in April 2008, Bristol was first threatened with Hooters. Thankfully it never materialised owing to a lack of public interest. At the time, the Bristol Evening Post was quick to insist the city did not want such an establishment, and ran a long article that quoted the council’s then leader, Helen Holland, as saying: "I am absolutely appalled to hear that this sort of establishment still exists in 2008. I hope that the pressure of public opinion will mean that this totally outdated concept is rejected in Bristol. It goes against the image that the city wants to portray."

But it was all change when Bristol went out of remission and Hooters reared its pustular head again and the Evening Post boasted on August 17 that a “saucy restaurant chain” was heading to town. Adding: ‘The opening of the new restaurant is likely to be seen as at odds with the campaign to make the Harbourside more family friendly.” Hmm. The comments on the web forum were so offensive they have all been removed.

Feminists didn’t need to rely on anonymous web posters to insult them, though, because the Bristol Evening Post was gladly doing that all on its own. It started, on August 20, by calling the campaign “fatuous”.

This was followed by an astonishing and vitriolic attack by a columnist, in a piece that didn’t so much state why the female writer liked Hooters, but more indulged her perceived notion that some women were telling her what to think. In the space of 500 words, Bristol’s feminists were called: “the Mary Whitehouse brigade”, “sneering”, “ill-informed”, factually incorrect, “ranters”, “militant objectors”, “offensive”, “spitting”, “rude”, “bulldozers”, “patronising”, “emotional blackmailers” and she accused feminists of “playing dirty”. Blimey! And in such a tiny piece of writing. Sadly, the string of accusations the writer was so determined to get in afforded her little time to construct an argument or make much sense. And again, the web comments were so offensive they were eventually removed.

A whole string of articles (22) were bandied around in the Evening Post before the bloody place even opened – an unprecedented amount of coverage, which presumably (and, of course, this is just my opinion) was paid for by the Hooters PR machine, who have cleverly avoided (so far) taking out any traditional ads in the paper, apparently in favour of buying some exclusively positive coverage of their bar, and which also ridiculed the opposition. That’s what I call playing dirty.

The comments on most of those 22 pieces were removed due to the obscenity hurled at campaigners by anonymous cowards (many of whom post under multiple identities, and some of whom are doubtless employed by Hooters themselves). So let’s turn to another Evening Post columnist, this time an older male writer, who on September 11 wrote a little piece referring to the “hoo-hah” the place had caused among people who suffered “puritanical zealousness”. He presumed smugly that the campaigners were unaware of Bristol’s history of “raunchy clubs” (thank you, just as we are unaware of Bristol’s history as a slave port), and then went off on a bizarre ramble about a yo-yo he’d bought in the 1970s. Quite how that was relevant no one is sure.

All of this led up to a truly offensive piece on October 19 in which the EP’s political editor referred to us as “sour-faced feminists”, in a piece which even the EP had the good sense not to publish online, presumably knowing how childish they were being. If you find a copy of the paper in a cat litter tray near you, though, you’ll see it on page six – unless it’s already wrapped around a feline turd. Some of the insults thrown up at feminists by supporters of sexual exploitation have been documented elsewhere on this blog, so I’ll refer you there for those.

I would like to know what gives anonymous strangers the right to abuse people they have never met. Why should they be allowed to wish us dead, make tired assumptions about our supposed sexual orientation (lesbian), eating habits (lentils) and dress sense (dungarees), and call us joyless because we don’t believe that sitting in a pine-clad bar being served battery-farmed greasy chicken wings by a young woman in scant clothing, with a barrage of screens blaring at us, is entertainment? In the face of such relentless abuse, we have been nothing but polite (and I say ‘we’ because there are a hell of a lot of us, women and men, on this campaign), yet still be are accused of being bullies. How?! With the amount of personal abuse and absolute hatred that we have to hear every single day, how is it that WE are the bullies?

Unlike the anonymous posters on web forums and self-satisfied reporters on a local paper, we are standing up for something that we know to be important. We have thoroughly researched the subject and campaign peacefully. We don’t resort to death threats and playground taunts, we don’t resort to sexual harassment and intimidation. Yet we are expected to accept it when anonymous cowards, hiding behind their computer screens and an alias, wish us dead. How are WE the bullies?

Still, if we don’t like it, I guess we don’t have to go there. No?

Kirsty Davie (Lib Dem)

Liberal Democrat councillor Kirsty Davie says: “As I see it, the issue is not whether women should be permitted to wear gym-shorts, ankle-socks and tight fitting T-shirts.

"Rather it should not be part of their job description that they should do so.

“The argument that women are free to choose whether they work for Hooters does not work when set in its wider context, while on average women continue to earn 30% less than men and suffer disproportionately from ‘labour flexibility’.

“That is part-time and temporary work, in addition to the burden of domestic labour – this so-called ‘free choice’ is not really free.”
 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A question to the councillors who voted this in

Dear members of the licensing sub-committee

We would really like your view - a dialogue if you will - on the following small selection of comments about Hooters (a place that you voted in!):

"I cannot wait for bitches with big tits to seve me food and beer."
Mike1233 who joined Mumsnet to post this 

"I think it's great that girls with nice enowments can serve me a beer.. And when they do, I'll be taking a long hard look at them..
I'm sure they understand the purpose of their role within such an establishment"
Robert, Bristol on the Bristol Evening Post website

"Hooters is a disgrace...
They don't get nearly naked enough. Try 'janglies' in Swindon - awesome clunge and three-for-one drinks on Tuesdays "
A "friend" of a friend on Facebook


"Look at the fun bags on them!"
Paul, Bristol on the Bristol Evening Post website

"I am hoping to get a quick one behind the bins at closing time, yay for hooters."
Dave, Bristol on the Bristol Evening Post website

"Quite simple really - if prudish, dungaree wearing lesbians don't like the idea of being served run-of-the-mill burgers by attractive, mini-skirted young ladies, then they can eat their lentils and humous elsewhere and leave the rest of us to get on with enjoying ourselves."
Paul, Bristol on the Bristol Evening Post website


"I think what the feminist faction of this city fail to see is that this is a theme pun and not aimed to be derogatory to women in any way."
Neutral, Bristol on the Bristol Evening Post website  

"We shall be holding Hyde CID's Christmas bash at this place if the birds that serve the nosh are fit. We don't want to be told what to do or where to go by a bunch of dungaree-wearing, pug-ugly feminists and limp-wristed 'Right on, Man, oooh, I'm sooo down with the wimmin, sisters' ponces."
'DCI Gene Hunt' on the Bristol Evening Post website
 
 
By the way, could you also share why you voted unanimously to not grant a late night alcohol licence to a shop in Southmead (not in a cumulative zone and there were no police objections) but you voted unanimously in favour of a "breastaurant" in a cumulative impact zone with strong police objections to the application?


We look forward to hearing from you!

Giving two hoots for Hooters

This blog post has appeared in cyberspace, adding petrol to the fire that Hooters is OK and "just harmless fun". Oh my god! How irresponsible can people be? Does nobody think before they type?

Blog post about Hooters - yawn

It's tiresome reading about how it's just these "sour-faced feminists" (I quote Ian Onions from the Bristol Evening Post) who are campaigning. There are also a lot of residents up in arms. Oh, and the police are none too happy either. But the police are such a minority organisation that no one needs listen to them. The police are just the ones who will be called in to clean up the mess after it all gets out of hand. Wasting their valuable resources and our hard-earned taxes.

Why are people so stubborn and blinkered about seeing the damage of a dump like Hooters? It's far from harmless, it's far from family-friendly, and it's certainly not pro-women.

the 22nd letter and article about hooters in the evening post

Here it is!

Since the campaign launched at the start of September, the Evening Post have published 22 articles and letters relating to Hooters.

I wonder why?

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/REALLY-HOOT/article-2772549-detail/article.html

The Evening Post asked BFN and Bristol Fawcett for a statement, which we provided. When we sent them the statement we requested the following:

'**NOTE**
  • we'd be very happy for you to quote the entire statement
  • If you are going to cut the statement, please quote only from paras 1 and 3 as Para 2 must only be quoted in the context of Paras 1 and 3.

We hope that this will be acceptable to you and to the EP, please let us know if for any reason it would be a problem.'

We did not receive any reply saying that this would be a problem. However, surprise surprise, the Evening Post decided to do the exact opposite of what we requested, quoting from para 3 without the context of the rest of the information.

'Bristol Feminist Network and Bristol Fawcett Society issued a joint statement criticising the chain and the council for giving Hooters licensing approval.
It said: "The presence of a Hooters in Bristol is a negative step for the city, and it damages the reputation of the Harbourside and the city as a whole.
"It peddles a thoroughly out-of-date concept of relationships between men and women.
"A brand that promotes ogling at women as an activity alongside paying to be served food or drink actively blurs the boundaries between private relationships and the public standing of women."

What is their agenda? Why are they so determined to paint feminists in a bad light, feminists who have held the council (the EP's bete noir) to account when over and over again the EP have failed to do so. Feminists who are working to make this city a better and safer place for women and men. Mike Norton, editor of the EP tells us he loves this city. Yet he refuses to show that one of the reasons this city is so great is because of its diversity and its communities.

The EP see women as a minority group, with women's issues as minority issues. I don't know whether it is because they are still angry with us over the embarrassment we caused them over Dita Von Teese, but their insistence on 'having a go' at women and men who want to make Bristol a better place is selfish, juvenile and, to coin his own phrase, 'bad for Bristol.'

For your reference, here's the rest of the statement:

JOINT STATEMENT BY BRISTOL FEMINIST NETWORK AND BRISTOL FAWCETT

1. Bristol Fawcett and Bristol Feminist Network are disappointed that a license to operate a 'Hooters' restaurant was granted to Gallus Management by a subcommittee of Bristol City Council. The lack of transparency in the license application resulted in a wholly undemocratic process in awarding the license. Furthermore, we do not believe that the reason given by the Chair of the Licensing Committee, that Hooters offers "something different" to Bristol, was sufficient justification for granting a license in a Police and Council designated Cumulative Impact Zone. Quite aside from further concerns, we are clear that a new 'Hooters' restaurant on the Harbourside will categorically have negative impact upon the four Licensing Objectives as set out in the Licensing Act, and will quite obviously contribute to Cumulative Impact.

2. The presence of a 'Hooters' in Bristol is a negative step for the city, and it damages the reputation of the harbourside and the city as a whole. It peddles a thoroughly out-of-date concept of relationships between men and women. A brand that promotes ogling at women as an activity alongside paying to be served food or drink actively blurs the boundaries between private relationships and the public standing of women. This blurring of boundaries is bad news for women and men alike.

3. We are also very disappointed that Marks and Spencer has chosen to align itself with the Hooters brand. M&S has a clear ethical policy (known as 'Plan A') and has signed up to the Mumsnet 'Let Girls Be Girls' campaign. We do not believe that their ethical stance is compatible with their decision to do business with an exploitative restaurant chain.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Trouble with Hooters

The trouble with Hooters

Degrades men.
Objectifies women.
Sexualises babies.*

We are living in a society that increasingly treats women as only and always sex objects. Passive, to be looked at, and consumed, by a (male) audience. The result of this increasing view of women as disposable sex objects (disposable in that once they stop being ‘sexy’ the are rendered useless and invisible) is:

·       A rise in violence in teen and adult relationships (NSPCC, Bristol University)
·       A rise in low self esteem and mental health issues in young women (APA)

Hooters is part of a spectrum that sees women as objects designed to serve and entertain a predominantly male audience. They proudly claim that the Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal, however the sexuality they are referring to is a narrow and confined definition decided by Hooters’ bosses. It has nothing to do with celebrating women and female sexuality, and everything to do with commercialisation that degrades men and objectifies women. 

Hooters encourages the view of women as sex objects, rather than as whole citizens of the world. This feeds in to a fantasy of the world before feminism. Where women are always and only sexually available. Where they laugh at the jokes that degrade them, and accept sexual harassment. Where women are subservient to men, where women wave goodbye to their rights and independence.

This refusal to see women as human, this insistence to see women as only and always objects, leads to violence, sexual confusion, mental disorder and low self-esteem. The Hooters concept is part of a culture that degrades men and damages women. This is our objection to their brand. This is our objection to a culture that degrades men and women. We are asking for it to end. We have had enough. 

* http://nohootersinbristol.blogspot.com/2010/09/for-your-baby.html

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Commercial Sexualisation and Hooters

Hi all

The Bristol anti Hooters campaign has been very busy. Unfortunately the restaurant is set to open on Monday but we aren't going to go away and we will be keeping an eye on things.

We are having an event at Bristol University to discuss the issues around Hooters and commercial sexualisation. We will be discussing Hooters, the dangers and effects of increased commercial sexualisation and the issues around licensing of sexual entertainment venues. All the speakers are experts in their fields (and me!) and it promises to be a lively and exciting discussion.

Places are limted, so please RSVP as per below.


Commercial Exploitation:
Bristol, Licensing Decisions and
Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs)

         Panel debate followed by questions and discussion with:

Bristol City Councillor – tbc
Bristol City Licensing Committee member - tbc
Gendered Violence Expert - Chair
Bristol Fawcett
Bristol Feminist Network



This is a free public event but numbers are limited. 
Priority will be given to specialists or those who work as officers or elected
representatives in relevant fields. 





Saturday, 9 October 2010

Council's decision sheet has now been published

Finally, after weeks after waiting, the Council has finally published its decision sheet for the Hooters licence.

A link is below.  The last 2 pages are most interesting.

In particular, the licensing sub-commmittee chair felt that:
"...the application did offer something different to that already in the area in that it was a predominantly food-led American themed restaurant with modest hours of operation and not a vertical drinking establishment."

And...
"It was envisaged that the premises would be more likely to attract customers wanting a table meal and to watch sporting events, rather than those wanting to binge drink. The premises would provide competition to premises that catered more for high volume vertical drinking."

Really?  Are we talking about the same place?!

Hooters application decision sheet

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Liz Jones Goes To Hooters... But Doesn't Like It!

Much as I personally loathe and detest the Daily Heil, sorry, Mail, they did run a story yesterday in their condescending FeMail section whereby columnist and woman Liz Jones was dispatched to Nottingham to spend some time being outraged by what she saw in the Hooters there.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1318258/Hooters--offensive-bar-Britain-Asks-Liz-Jones.html

Disappointingly, it seems she chose to go in the daytime, and mid-week, rather than on a Friday or Saturday night when the nightmares really kick in. But still, great to see such a large and daming piece of writing in one of the nationals. Trouble is - the people who read the Heil, probably were unlikely to visit Hooters in the first place. But at least there is further support that it is definitely Not A Good Thing.

Quote of the week surely goes to Julian Mills, the manager in Nottingham, who says:'We use the same criteria as if you were going for the job of a Calvin Klein model. You have to look the part, but it is about personality and charisma, too.'

I see. I look forward to hearing the dulcet Bristolian tones of the Bristol beauties if/when the Bristol Hooters opens the gates to hell. While the cheerleader may have *some* tiny appeal in America, the home of the cheerleader, I just can't see it translating so well to a corner of the UK where the accent is already much mocked. Perhaps they'll be tipped if they keep their mouths shut?

Oh, and as if to further undermine its content, the Heil, Fail, Mail added an online poll down the side of Liz's feature (a feature criticising a bar for treating women as objects, and only employing young waifs - one girl even declares herself "officially old" at 25) asking what would make you happier: being thinner, or having a nice boyfriend? Because, of course, those are the only two things that could possibly make you happier.

Am off for a shower now after my run-in with the world's most offensive paper.


Sunday, 3 October 2010

We're No 16 in the Blog Charts!

Now the blog's been up and running for a few weeks, we took a look behind the scenes and studied the 'stats' option... and we're beyond thrilled that over 3,500 people have visited our blog, from all over the world (though mostly the UK and US). And it's interesting to see where people come to us from. It turns out one of the top sources of traffic here is from a website called Socialist Unity, who had the kindness to rank as an No 16 (out of 80) in their list of feminist blogs.

http://www.socialistunity.com/

See also:

http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2010/09/15/the-missing-list/

for the (of course) blog post that geneerated said list.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

It's a Knockout!

Read this news story if you want to spread your horror around!

"Hooters-Like Salon Goes for Final Approval"


http://www.620wtmj.com/news/local/103918179.html

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Response from Mumsnet on M&S/Hooters link

Kate from Mumsnet has posted the following on the Hooters/M&S thread:

Hello

We thought we should give you a quick update on where we're at re the M&S Hooters thang.

Some of you have asked whether we can ask M&S to review their association with Let Girls Be Girls, because doing business with Hooters is in conflict with supporting the campaign - if not technically, then in spirit. M&S have said in a statement that the decision is a purely commercial one - but clearly, not many MNers feel that this lets them off the hook.

We're pretty sympathetic to this point of view, and we're disappointed that M&S has chosen not to take note of the strong opposition amongst MNers. You might have seen Justine's interview in the Independent on Sunday, in which she expressed the strength of feeling here.

But after considerable thought, we've decided to hold fire for now. The Let Girls Be Girls campaign has a very specific remit - retailers who sign up commit 'not to sell products which play upon, emphasise or exploit' children's sexuality. While Hooters may be objectionable, it's not yet clear that they are objectionable on those terms - and right now we think that retroactively expanding the terms of the campaign would be a mistake.

But do rest assured that we're keeping a close eye on these threads - and of course don't feel deterred from using the boards to take your protest further. The best MN campaigns are usually driven by MNers and we are of course, more than happy to facilitate and comment in the press when asked.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Mystery of the Vanishing Licence Application

This evening, at 9.30pm, I was walking past the Booby's site on Harbourside, just to double check the colouring of the licence application in the window (there was a rumour going round that if it was printed on the wrong colour paper, we could have a case). And there it was, where I've seen it so often, bold as brass, next to the brassy photo of a bold looking Hooters Girl not wearing much.


For now, I'll gloss over the interaction I had with in irate builder who spotted me looking at the sign to check the colour of the paper (sadly it was the palest blue I've ever seen, but just blue enough not to be the offencing white that we needed). As I walked down the road, he was just getting in his truck to drive off, but he got out when he saw me and came over, ready for an argument. His first words were, "You won't get it closed down." So I asked what made him think I wanted to get it closed down, I was just looking at the window. Anyway, we had a bit of a chat, which resulted in me walking off to be shouted at, "Get a life." (As opposed to, "Get a job with scruples.")

Anyway, not 15 minutes later, a fellow campaigner texted me to say the notice had gone. Which struck me as odd, so I rang her to double check we were talking about the same thing, and we were.

Now why would the builder (the only person visible on the premises, which had its lights off) be in such a hurry to go back into a building site that he was clearly leaving, just to remove a sign? Was he concerned that maybe the licence WAS on the wrong colour paper? Will it be replaced tomorrow, reprinted on a bright blue paper? I may well pop down in my lunch break to check.

Things I forget in my post re the job application...

Other recollections from my interview are coming back to me in dribs and drabs. Here’s some more…

Alex also told me there would be competitive eating, ie: see how many marshmallows you can stuff in your gob at once.

Oh, and he asked if I had made cocktails, so I said yes (does pouring a can of Coke into some rum in my kitchen count? I can add some cranberry juice to some vodka, too, if required). However, I was under the impression (having sat through the tedious licensing hearing on September 1) that there was going to be no back bar and therefore no cocktails. Hmm.

Alex had made it clear from the start that on the Saturday they were only interviewing for hosts. However, while we were chatting I saw a large man come in and start filling in a form. So I queried Alex on this, and he said that guy was applying for a job in the kitchen. (Although, he’d just said Saturday was only for hosts. Confusing). I asked if all the hosts were female, and he said mostly, but there were some men.

NB: Does anyone, anywhere have anything to add to this – because this is brand new information to me, and I’ve done tons of Hooters research in the past month or two, and never encountered news of a Hooters Boy. Presumably their rarity would make them an interesting topic of conversation if they existed? The lesser spotted Hooters Boy. Or perhaps they are less photogenic than the girls. If they do exist, I am curious to know what they wear. Presumably, nothing but their pants.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Applying for a job as Hooters' Girl - part three: busted.

Alex greeted me warmly, asked my name, shook my hand, asked what post I was applying for (and told me they were only interviewing hostesses today), and led me over to a “comfy chair” in the corner for our interview.

We chatted for maybe 30-40 minutes, during which I learned he had worked for TGI Friday for eight years, was the kitchen manager of the Bristol Hooters, and his girlfriend disapproved of him working there (as do her friends). Fortunately he had a lot of statistics to quote about the amount of money Hooters Girls raise for charity (especially breast cancer charities – despite him saying Breast Cancer Research did not want to be linked to them) to appease her. Although when I asked exactly what sort of activities the girls did to raise money he was rather vague, and said something about comedy night. “Do the girls tell jokes?” I asked. He looked at me like I was stupid, “No”. Oh.

Anyway, he wasn’t that interested in my relevant experience. I said I’d worked in bars for eight years. He didn’t ask what I did at those bars, what the bars were called, where they were (I just said “London” and had made up two names on the application form), how I dealt with drunks and trouble makers etc. Apparently not relevant.

He did say, “Do you mind if I ask your age?”, obviously realising I wasn’t 18. On the verge of lying, I admitted I was 32 and asked apologetically, “Is that too old?” He was quick to say they didn’t discriminate by age, and that it was sometimes helpful to have an “older” person (I repeat, 32 – “older”) to supervise the other hostesses who were mostly a lot younger and “less experienced”. In short, at 32 I was a matronly figure. Flattering.

I said I used to live in Nottingham and had gone to the Hooters there regularly. He was quick to stress the Bristol one would be more “classy”. The Nottingham one is more of a bar, this is more of a restaurant. No stand-up drinking, no over-crowding… when asked, he started to say no t-shirt competitions or no cheerleader chance routines, but then in the next minute he backtracked and said there would be some singing and dancing from the girls, and probably some beauty competitions on special occasions.

He said the Bristol bar was keen to get away from the stag night and footy crowd reputation of the Nottingham one, and that is why they were situated where they were (ie, close to meat market club Oceana, and within spitting distance of what the police call the most violent area of Bristol). I learned customers would be allowed two drinks each, and then hostesses would have to ask management approval to serve customers with more drinks. He did not say what would happen if a customer had got drunk somewhere else beforehand and then arrived at Hooters, beyond something vague about the door staff only allowing people in at their discretion.

When I asked what happened if a customer got a bit too ‘friendly’ with any of the hostesses, I was told (and this is hilarious) that they had good relations with the police (a ha ha ha ha ha ha), that they could call the police if need be (because an attacker is sure to wait 10 mins for the police to arrive before assaulting a woman), and there were men in the kitchen who could come out and calm a situation if required. How reassuring. No offence to Alex as he seemed as naïve as a newborn baby, but he’s one of the kitchen staff and he looked barely taller than me (5ft 5), and it didn’t look like he worked out much. I wouldn’t fancy my chances of him rescuing me from an attacker.

He told me a lot of guff about charity work, which was boring, and I didn’t listen properly as it sounded like PR wank. I was also getting tired of hearing the word “girls” bandied about with such patronising abandon.

When some other women came in to apply, and then walked out shouting “Sexist” loudly during my interview, Alex looked very embarrassed and said to me, “I’m sorry you had to hear that.” Oh bless him. I took the opportunity to ask what he thought about the negative reaction Hooters had been getting from some groups. He said it was all overblown, people had misunderstood the brand, and it was a very family-friendly place. (He’s a liar, it seems).



He said they’d let me know in seven days, and gave me a special Hooters pen to take home and treasure. I’ve put it in a safe place. The bin.

POSTCRIPT
- Sadly, after I got home an hour and a half later, a person called Annette Ainsworth (recruitment@hooters.co.uk) had sent a rather blunt email saying:

“Thank you for completing an application form today for the position of Host, our records show that you left without speaking to a member of management re this opportunity.”

Which confused me, as after our interview, Alex had shaken my hand and walked me to the lift to say goodbye. I will email back to let them know that my email address does not accept messages from sexist scum.

Applying for a job as Hooters' Girl - part two

Ooh, my nerves, my nerves. Saturday has dawned, I’m all of a-fluster. Why? Because today, at 1pm, I will get one step nearer to fulfilling my dream of becoming a world famous Hooters Girl. Tacky and unrefined it may be, but it would be great to work somewhere with such a positive attitude to women, in such a women-friendly environment, to meet all those lovely gentlemen AND to get paid for it. What would be better?

So I put a bit of slap on, a low-cut top and my very best Converse (well, I can’t sell my soul completely), and headed off to Harbourside. It was a lovely late-September day, the sun was out, and masses of families and young people were having a hoot enjoying BrisFest by the side of the water. A great family day out.

Just around the corner from the new Hooters venue (where, sickeningly, the sign went up yesterday – I took some photos, which will be attached, before I got chased off by an irate builder in a hard hat – and no, that’s not a euphemism), is Bristol’s family-friendly science museum, @Bristol, where Hooters had hired some space for interviews. Following the signs (see attached photos), I went in, asked the receptionist for directions, and she pointed me to the lift and told me to go to the second floor.

En route to the lift, I passed lots of families with very young children, all having fun in the café and enjoying the exhibitions, or posing with the big statue of Morph. Ahh, lovely to see kids enjoying themselves. I even shared the lift with some very young children (maybe six years old?) as I headed up for the second floor. As I did, I wondered what other kind of young ladies would be sharing the lift with other young children that day, and what sort of scantily-dressed women here for the audition those kids were going to see. Tasteful.


Out on the second floor, a tacky piece of laminated A4 with ‘Hooters’ and the logo on was blu-tac-ed to the door, so I nervously went in. There was no one there, and it felt cold, empty and miserable. A young man, Alex, came out to greet me, and showed me into the ‘office’ – through a door with a poster of a Hooters’ girl tacked on. Inside were several people working there, who all looked at me doubtfully (I’m in my early 30s and look like a normal person, rather than a pneumatic doll), none of them offered me a drink from the many arranged on a table, but they gave me a form (the same as on the website) to fill in, before my interview.

To be continued…

Applying for a job as Hooters' Girl - part one

When an established Hooters breastaurant advertises for staff, you are encouraged to apply in person – obviously so they can assess what physical qualities you will bring to the team. However, as the Bristol (and Cardiff and Brighton) ones have yet to open their doors, the application process has been online. The downside for Hooters here being they don’t know what you look like.

Thankfully, Hooters decided to lease a room from @Bristol on the afternoon of Saturday, September 25 for three hours, to hold open interviews for prospective hostesses. It had very low-key advertising, and we only heard on the day before because someone who had applied had received an email saying:


“Thank you for your recent application to Hooters of Bristol via our website. Due to the volume of applicants we are holding an initial recruitment open day.

The event will be held at the - @Bristol, Anchor Road, Bristol, BS1 5DB (On the Harbourside) this Saturday the... 25th September between 1pm and 4pm.

You are invited to drop in and discuss our opportunities further with our management team. You will find us upstairs, just follow the signs!!!

We look forward to meeting you.”

(What a scary amount of exclamation points. !!!)

Well, we weren’t so keen on meeting them but felt after all this hype and publicity we’ve been helping to generate for them that it would only be polite to show our faces.  But before that, we quickly checked on the issue of @Bristol (a charity that rents its building from Bristol City Council) leasing a room to an exploitative breastaurant in order to recruit young staff, and pay them the minimum wage for such a demeaning and degrading job.

It was all especially concerning as, after the Dita Von Teese debacle at the Council-run Bristol Museum back in May, the council and its Chief Executive Jan Ormondroyd had promised Bristol Fawcett Society that nothing like this would ever happen again on council property. As a gesture, on Friday we learned Hooters had been told they could not put posters up of their girls anywhere on @Bristol. That’s OK then.

To be continued…

Sign of the Times




It's official. Depressingly, on Friday (September 24, a day late I'm told, by Hooters' new kitchen manager, Alex) the signage went up on the Bristol breastaurant. The interior is coming along a treat, too. Has anyone got a brick we can throw through their windows? (Of course, I don't mean that).

Monday, 20 September 2010

Hooters employs a girl for her looks shock!

Here's an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal blog about a former employee of Hooters who is suing for weight discrimination.

Apparently they don't have a waitress requirement but they do have a uniform requirement...

Extra extra small, extra small or small.  And with big 'hooters' of course!

Wall Street Journal blog

3 national newspapers and the local rag in 2 days

So what are M&S going to do now?  We wait with bated breath.  Will they keep trotting out that "it's a commercial decision?"  Or will they finally wake up to the fact that their reputation is suffering over this?

Place your bets now.....
Sunday Telegraph article


The Independent on Sunday article

The Sun article

Small World article

Jack Bristol article

The Evening Post article

Interesting article on Civitas about corporate responsibility following on the M&S/Hooters debacle

The Christian Institute - who mention David Cameron's concerns about the sexualisation of young girls

The India Times!

Link to Independent article on Parent Pages

Random US blog called Strangeguys!

South West Business News

Froxter (whatever that is!) article

The story was also discussed on Radio 5 last night and on Heart FM this morning.

EP says it treats sexism as 'general abuse'. That's OK,then.

Following today's story in the EP with them backtracking on the Hooters issue (I refuse to post a link and further their web traffic - but if you want to see it, I'm sure you know how to find it), I emailed their website moderators (comments@northcliffemedia.co.uk) complaining about how many sexist and abusive comments were appearing, and why there was no drop-down box to brand them 'sexist' under 'report abuse' - yet there are boxes to brand comments as spam or impersonation etc. 
 
This was the reply I got:
 
"We take all reports of abuse very seriously and will remove any that breach our house rules.

We do not have a category for all different types of abuse as many can be classified as 'general abuse' with user notes to tell us more details.

The lack of a sexism category is not down to us not taking it seriously, it's down to us trying to keep the list concise so it's not too much for users to wade through."
 
So, just so we're clear, sexist comments and those endorsing violence against women (which appeared and were removed this morning), are merely 'general abuse' in the eyes of the EP, who can't see them for the infinitely more damaging comments from damaged minds that they are.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

National Press Coverage on Hooters

IN the Sunday Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/epic/mks/8010701/Marks-and-Spencer-faces-boycott-over-sexist-Hooters-restaurant-deal.html

And in the Independent on Sunday (although their angle is purely on the mumsnet side of things, so the vast amount of campaigning BFN have been doing doesn't get a mention)

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/mumsnet-challenges-ms-over-hooters-deal-2083310.html

Interesting to see how the national press are able to write balanced and accurate stories about this issue, without suggesting that feminists are imposing their views on others, or have an axe to grind. Perhaps our local press could take note!

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Perfect Girl

This is exactly who Hooters would like to employ. I know, it's not a Hooters-endorsed picture, but it might as well be...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Hooters girls fired for being 'fat'

If you are a family friendly restaurant with a wholesome image, why would you fire someone for being too fat?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3111237/Too-fat-Hooters-girls-are-sacked.html

Or is it because, in fact, Hooters merely wish to perpetuate a narrow view that sees women as only and always sex objects, rather than as full human beings?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Have your children's birthday parties at Hooters!

Your child could have as much fun as this 12 year old!

12 year old's birthday party!

The Evening Post Hooters love affair

So, today yet another article appeared in the evening post about hooters.

i have lost count of the number that have appeared but needless to say it must be around 10 in the last two or three weeks.

I'd love to know how much money hooters are promising the post for a full page ad. are they paying them by the number of times they mention the word hooters, the number of articles or the number of hooters in the headlines? ha ha!

Needless to say, the evening post have certainly changed their tune from two years ago, when they didn't seem all that keen on welcoming the self styled 'breastaurant' to bristol.

I am not big headed enough to think that it might have something to do with the paper's dislike of feminists...?

Needless to say, the reporting has been fairly inaccurate and erratic to say the least. the article today barely makes sense, and seems to ramble on about how in the 60s there were lots of strip clubs in clifton, and now there aren't. Fascinating.

The post has covertly suggested that it was feminists who were trying to set the council's agenda, resulting in a host of comments about feminists imposing their views on the city. Of course, this is untrue. We didn't make a formal objection to the council (we didn't have time) and so the only people who imposed their views on anyone are the police (who's objection the council disregarded) and the councillors themselves, led by Guy Poultney. This was reported in the article the day after the decision was made to give hooters a licence, however perhaps the inclusion of a quote from me meant it came across that we were setting the agenda.

Other articles flat out criticised feminists for daring to have opinions and talk about them. Feminists who fought so the female journalist could have a career in the media, could vote for the Tory values the paper loves, who, you know, did a lot to make women's and men's lives better.

And then the comments. From the hilarious self styled Gene Hunt, who flung homophobic insults about like they were going out of fashion, to the endless suggestions that we are all fat, ugly and jealous (not that the two former points matter - but you know what i mean) to pictures being posted of what they imagine i look like, aspersion being cast on our private lives and even insults directed at my family.

You can't help but think the pro hooters crowd are strangely desperate and angry. they're shouting, criticising and frustrated name calling was all so surreal and immature, it made us feel stronger in our own argument.

Our petition had nearly 800 signatures when we presented it to the council. Clearly the anti feeling towards hooters is far stronger, and far greater than the Evening Post wishes to report, or the pro hooters crowd want to admit.

If the violent language is any signifier to the actions of the men who will soon be frequenting Hooters, i feel the police may well have been right to object to the license on the grounds of crime and disorder.

Mumsnet don't want hooters either

They called it the Mumsnet election and there is no doubt that the forum for mums has a lot of clout in the media and political world.

It was mumsnet who accelerated the debate about sexualisation about young girls and set up a large and widely recognised campaign to try and put an end to it.

So successful, that British shopping PowerHouse Marks and Spencer signed up, committing themselves to help end the commercial sexualisation of young girls.

Imagine this mumsnet member's surprise then, when she discovered Marks and Spencer were helping Hooters set up in Bristol.

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1038867-Marks-and-Spencer-support-new-Hooters-in-Bristol

Hooters is the bar that not only sells babygrows (see post below) but tried to host an under 5 pageant, Little Miss Hooters (they didn't succeed)

Surely it is naive at best, and seriously hypocritical at worst for M&S, who have so proudly waved the mumsnet flag in their desire to end the sexualisation of little girls, to lease their buildings to a business who call themselves a breastaurant, host iced water wet t-shirt competitions, and generally prescribe to that charming notion that women are objects to be leered at, who should always laugh at mens' jokes and live to serve. But who, of course, are disposable once their hooters looks fade.

We haven't had an answer from M&S as to why, unlike Ask Pizza, they think it is ok to be associated with the Hooters business. Perhaps Mumsnet will have more success?

Getting the Lord Mayor to listen

HI all

Here's the footage from the council meeting where Steph got the longest applause of the night and Ches got the biggest cheers

http://www.bristol.public-i.tv/site/player/pl_compact.php?a=40962&t=0&m=wm&l=en_GB

Friday, 10 September 2010

It's not just sexual exploitation, it's M&S sexual exploitation

So good old M&S, trustworthy M&S, backbone of Britain M&S have decided to help Bristol get its the country's 3rd 'Hooters'.

We'd just like to say:                       Thanks Marks and Spencer!

I mean, really thank you!  Your lack of ethics and decision making based entirely on "commercial" factors will now mean that Hooters can offer "something different" to Bristol.  Did you know that the people of Bristol will soon be able to order some chicken breasts (fnarr, fnarr), some baps (hurr hurr) and some jugs (oh I kill myself!!) of beer, all served by a pretty young girl with her cleavage on show and wearing a pair of scratchy orange hotpants!

The good people of Bristol will also be able to:

*view bikini contests whilst munching on their chicken wings, 
*judge iced wet t-shirt competitions whilst enjoying their salad and 
*browse through the latest 'Hooters girl' calendar whilst ordering the food for their children's parties!


Bristol really is privileged to be getting this.  The city was looking a bit stale - I mean a lap dancing club just got turned down - so a good bit of old fashioned sexism will really shake up the vibrant nightlife in this quiet area (opposite residential apartment blocks).

If you'd like to write and thank Marks and Spencer for their thoughtfulness, the address is:

chairman@marksandspencer.com

I'm sure they'd love to hear how grateful we are that they're helping to bring Hooters to Bristol!

Let's dress misogyny up as empowerment and try and convince everyone we're just talking about owls!

From the Hooters.com website:

"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.

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."

Oh please.......


Ok, some people may have fallen for this argument (not naming any names but certain Lib Dem councillors spring to mind) but the intelligent people in this country think this kind of rhetoric is a load of old turkey twizzlers.

http://www.hooters.com/about.aspx

DVD fun for all the family



Since Hooters is such a family-friendly restaurant, why not get a copy of the best of Hooters' wet t-shirts competitions DVD, and sit down with the kids this weekend? Something for everyone. Even dad.

"It blows my mind"

http://www.guide2bristol.com/news/933/The-Bristol-Hum-This-week-Tom-Mitchell-tackles-Hooters

An amusing bon mot from a Bristolian man who is less than convinced Hooters has "something different" to offer our city, whatever Cllr Poultney thinks.

Thanks, Tom.