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

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.

Responding to some criticisms… Part Two

Some people think that by focusing on the ‘safeguarding children from harm’ issues, we are being disingenuous about out true reasons for opposing Hooters: namely that we don’t like the inherent sexism of it.

I disagree that we’re being disingenuous, and feel that to suggest we are implies that we are being insincere and hypocritical in our approach. This is neither fair nor correct.

True, people who object to Hooters largely do so because it is a retrosexist company that normalises the objectification of women as only and always sex objects for the pleasure of men.

True, the current campaign is highlighting that Hooters in Bristol is breaching one of its four licencing conditions – namely the one stressing the importance of safeguarding children from harm. However, we didn’t choose which licence condition Hooters decided to breach – they did. It so happens to be the safeguarding children from harm condition, and we object to it. Just as we would if Pizza Express, Nando’s or any other restaurant chain exposed children to the same levels of sexual objectification and ‘grooming’ as Hooters appears to be doing.

NB: The current campaign is also objecting to Hooters on the grounds that a large number of residents have made complaints to both Hooters and the police about the noise and disturbance levels that have dramatically risen since Hooters opened. However, this part of the petition has attracted less public attention for obvious reasons.

Responding to some criticisms… Part One

Inevitably, the current campaign in Bristol regarding Hooters having (in our opinion) breached one of its four licensing conditions (safeguarding children from harm) has attracted some criticism – impressively little, but nevertheless some. That’s fine: we welcome constructive criticism, constructive comments, and other thoughtful opinions – so long as they are not willfully abusive or deliberately derailing. We have a clear policy of not engaging with abuse.

If someone politely and respectfully challenges me, I am happy to discuss the issues with them. Maybe I’ll change their mind – who knows, maybe they’ll change mine. So I’ve posted below some notes from an email I sent to someone earlier who politely queried a few issues they had with the campaign. I’ve done this because the questions they raised are the questions most commonly raised by most people who have hesitations about what we’re doing.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

"Like women? Hate sexism?"

There is a guest blog post on Bristol Indymedia today (and for the future) about the campaign in Bristol against Hooters and the alleged breach of licence.

Please read the blog post here.

Please sign the petition here, and circulate the link as widely as possible. At the time of writing this short blog update, there are 1,136 signatures. This is wonderful, and thank you to everyone who has signed and supported. But there are so many more people out there who have yet to hear about this campaign.

By the by, this post on Jezebel appeared in December, but is new to the writer of this blog post here. Maybe you'll find it interesting.

Monday, 6 June 2011

And another red top...

I wondered if the Sun or Star, or both, would pick this up - but today it's the Daily Star who's honoured the campaign with a classy headline: It's Chest Not Right. Thanks for the coverage, Richard Desmond :-)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

News is spreading...

A good blog post today from Bristol Labour councillor Thangam Debbonaire about the Hooters situation in the city.

Please follow this link to read it.

In Extra, Extra, Read All About It news... the 'Boob Cake' story has been picked up by: - although they incorrectly place the story in London.

Newstrack India.

And the TruthDive website.

Mail on Sunday backs the Close Hooters petition

While the Daily Mail or Mail on Sunday may not be a typical feminist friendly paper, they are agreed with us (in principal) that Hooters is not A Good Thing.

Today, they have printed a piece about the petition and the boob cake row. You can read it here.

Although the strength of the petition's argument (which has clearly been used as the basis of the story) has been weakened in their editing and re-writing, at least the story is getting out there to a wider audience.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Let the feminist bashing commence...

This morning, the BEP printed a story about the petition and Hooters allegedly breaching its licencing conditions. Here is the story. The story itself, as BEP pieces go, isn't too bad. The comments, un-moderated, are another thing. True, today (so far) there have been less of the abusive insults. Instead, there is a willful ignorance about the fact feminism even exists.

For example. A wag called DockLobster posted: Surely these "feminists" should be looking at other agendas rather than constantly picking on Hooters. What about the abundance of massage parlours on Stokes Croft, prostitution in St Pauls and Easton and strip clubs in the centre? There's more publicity in taking on a cake I see...

To which I, as EffOffHeff, replied: Firstly, I'm unclear why you put the word "feminists" in quote marks. I presume it is because you either think feminists are a made-up construct, or that you wish they were. Maybe you think it's a clever way of portraying your perceived "power" over feminists, by pretending they don't exist (though, if feminists don't exist, why does the BEP delight in regularly printing stories that generate the wealth of comments that they do? Oh right, because these so-say feminists annoy people like you, who enjoy posting misinformed comments that you think make you look smug). Maybe it makes you feel important, and better than them. That's up to you (it's also called 'patriarchy'). Go ahead and misuse punctuation all you like. Plenty of other people on here do it, too.

Secondly, the inconsistent reporting of the BEP (by which they only choose the more titillating feminist stories to report on, hence the boring wealth of Hooters stories they print) means that you - and any others who jump at the chance to join in some feminist-bashing, but can't be bothered to do some research of your own, or even engage with the council in your own way in order to gain an informed perspective on what's actually happening in our city - have no idea of the sheer wealth of feminist activity that happens in Bristol.

The BEP chooses not to report on the many, many other feminist campaigns in the city they apparently represent - that's their decision. It's not good news reporting, but that's the BEP for you. Having no rival newspaper in Bristol (aside from the WDP, which they also own), the BEP is in the luxurious position of being able to edit the news as they see fit. Sadly, this tactic means that people who only get their news from this one source have an equally narrow-eyed view on what happens in this city, tarnished with the same Daily Mail-inflected brush as the rest of what they print.

If I was you, I wouldn't be so quick to criticise others without arming myself with the facts first. I also wouldn't rely on the BEP as my sole source of news. However, presumably you just saw the word "Hooters" in the headline and, like your fellow unhelpful commenters here (and on previous stories) thought "yippee, an ideal chance to talk about something I don't understand and make myself feel powerful for 2 minutes". Good for you. Am sure you'll go far with such an open-minded approach.

I look forward (ahem) to logging on tomorrow and seeing what nonsense replies DockLobster and friends have come up with. Let the feminist bashing commence...

Petition is starstruck by supporters

The Close Hooters in Bristol Now petition has taken on a life of it's own this week. Since launching at 9am on Tuesday, May 31, it has gathered more than 880 signatures. The vast bulk of these were in the first 48 hours, but the number keeps on rising.

The petition - here's a link - has spread like wildfire over Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Emails etc etc. So, an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who has signed the petition, shared the link in whatever form, and supported it whether in person or online, whether you know those behind it in real-life or simply in cyberspace. The amount of support received this week for the petition has been amazing, and the campaigners are all stunned that only a handful of people have chosen to berate them or pick holes in the argument. Clearly, they are not a tiny minority objecting to Hooters. They are a strong, very vocal and absolutely determined huge group... and they are not going away.

And I can't close this post without pointing out the very helpful celebrity support the petition has had from household names including Jonathan Ross and David Mitchell, as well as great support from names who are slightly less well known but certainly no less important. Thank you all.

PS - The story is in the Bristol Evening Post today. The story is OK, the comments (as always) are largely a load of nonsense. Here's a link.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Please sign the petition

Hooters is breaching its licencing conditions by holding sex-themed events (bikini contests), and giving 12-year-old kids at birthday parties cakes featuring disembodied naked breasts and party bags filled with porny treats. Bristol City Council did not feel 20+ letters of complaint was sufficient, so please sign this petition and show them the strength of feeling there is about this.

On Wednesday, 11 May 2011, Hooters in Bristol held a widely promoted swimsuit contest in which its (young, female) staff dressed in bikinis to be judged by the customers. This event began at 7pm, two hours before children are excluded. There was no suggestion in their advertising of this event that it was restricted to adults and it is not accepted that any such restriction was in place.

Under the terms of their Licence (condition L13) Hooters are prohibited from providing any “adult entertainment or services, activities, other entertainment or matters ancillary to the use of the premises that may give rise to concern in respect of children. For example (but not exclusively), there shall be no nudity or semi-nudity”.

The licensing authority's definition of "nudity" includes toplessness. Therefore wearing a bikini for the purposes of entertainment is plainly semi-nudity.

Both the swimsuit contest itself and the failure to restrict children from the premises demonstrate a breach of licence.

The day after the swimsuit contest, a child's birthday party was held at Hooters in Bristol. He and his friends were served a pornographic birthday cake representing disembodied and life-like naked breasts, with the nipples fully displayed, decorated with the words “Happy 12th Birthday”, and in the Hooters colours of white and orange. The children were also given high-caffeine drinks and party bags containing sexualised Hooters merchandise.

Any premises licence holder must demonstrate that they are fulfilling the licence objective to protect children from moral, psychological and physical harm. Hooters, while claiming to be "family friendly” is exposing children to sexual entertainment - and not protecting them from harm.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Hooters Bikini Contest

Just in case you were thinking this bikini contest nonsense "wasn't that bad", let's remember that Hooters is meant to be some sort of family friendly environment that you'd take your children to for a birthday party.

Let's take a look at what went on - we doubt the following images are safe for work:

Hooters Bikini Contest FB page

Images from the competition

Hooters Bikini Contest

As you can see, aside from being hardly "family friendly" this isn't even particularly "woman friendly". Sure, if you're young, white with a socially conventional "good figure" this might be a fun event to participate in, but we can't imagine many women paying £15 for a ticket to judge other women and enjoying the experience.

Bristol Evening Post's balanced reporting on Hooters shock!

So the Evening Post have finally managed to report on Hooters in a balanced way for a change.

Bristol Evening Post article on Hooters bikini contest

The Evening Post, which have previously been known for their desire to keep this future advertiser and discount Christmas party venue happy, have reported on the bikini contest following a complaint from Bristol University's Gender Violence Research Centre.

As usual, the comments below the article are full of misinformation and misogyny.  We'd set the record straight but what's the point when those writing a kneejerk reaction don't want to hear about the reasons for the complaint or why this is different to wearing a swimsuit on the beach.....(and if you can't see the differences between that and girls parading up and down and being judged on their bikini clad bodies in front of a crowd of slavering losers....sorry, men.... then perhaps these people should stick to reading The Sun instead of challenging themselves intellectually with the Bristol Evening Post). 

Those who can see the difference long ago stopped bothering to post on the Bristol Evening Post's webpage in response to the barrage of misogyny that always accompanies an article on Hooters.  If we thought that our views would be taken seriously, we would take the time but those who type out the misogynist bile don't want to take a minute to consider why Hooters is so offensive and why the Centre for Gender Violence Research would take the time out of their day to bring this to the Council's attention.

We'll leave them to their simple ideas about feminism, empowerment and women's place in the world whilst we focus on those who can make a difference.

Hooters in Bristol hosts its "inaugural" bikini contest

Well, well....who'd have thought that the oh so "family friendly" Hooters restaurant would start holding bikini contests?  What a surprise.  And they told us it was all about the food and the atmosphere and the hula hooping! 

So on Wednesday, 11th May Hooters in Bristol held its first bikini contest implying that we have many more to look forward to.  According to the terms of its licence it allows children in until 9pm and the bikini contest started at 7pm.  What a great night for all the family!

During the (quite frankly, mockery of a) licensing hearing committee, Gallus Management's lawyer said: 

Gallus’ lawyer said: “There isn’t anything about this that undermines the protection of children. I realise it is not for everyone. It is a restaurant with a uniform. Not a strip club. The uniform is not relevant to the licencing application.”

What about when the girls aren't wearing a uniform at all?

And we have this from the licence written decision:
Licence condition number 13:  There shall be no adult entertainment or services, activities, other entertainment or matters ancillary to the use of the premises that may give rise to concern in respect of children.  For example (but not exclusively), there shall be no nudity or semi-nudity, films for restricted age groups, the presence of gaming machines

Bristol City Council are currently looking into whether this breaches a licensing condition or objective.
Given that the licence shouldn't have been awarded in the first place, the answer to that, Bristol City Council, would be yes.

Will BCC prove to be as spineless as they were when they approved the original application, even though the police objected to the licence being awarded?

We will wait and see.

In the meantime, if you want to object, please e-mail: and copy any councillors in that you think should be involved.

And don't forget to thank Marks and Spencer while you are at it for helping to inflict Hooters on our city.

You can e-mail to say thank you at:

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Aww, shucks - Hooters are wishing us good luck

Obviously, none of us here at No To Hooters HQ were in any doubt as to the kindness and generosity embedded in the bosoms of the Hooters franchise... and this was reinforced when one Greg popped by this blog to catch up on some reading, and left us some fan mail. We published it on the relevant blog post, but here it is again in case you missed it:
Hi, Sorry to interupt, I would like to let you know that the artwork at the bottom of this page (which has been distorted)belongs to us and is copyrighted, (as stated on our website), would you be so kind to remove it please? Good luck with your cause, Kind regards Greg
We've encountered Greg before. Several times. He simply lurves to promote Hooters (heaven knows they need the business, the Bristol branch is always so empty whenever I walk by, that you can see the tumbleweeds drifting between the chasms of empty tables). 
Thing is, if you Google said person's name and "Hooters", nothing very official comes up - just some Facebook links. Perhaps it's not his real name. It's understandable to think he'd be embarrassed to work for a greasy breastaurant chain. He certainly should be.
Anyhoo, back in October, Greg sent a colleague of mine a string of badly spelt and badly punctuated emails about why Hooters was such a great thing, and so supportive of women. One of his sentences best sums up how ill-informed Hooters is about women:
They are treated like queens, they run the show, they look after themselves, in fact it is more "girl power" than anything else, isn't this meant to be what feminism stands for? 
No, Greg, that isn't "meant to be what feminism stands for". Feminism is about equality between the genders. And "girl power" is nothing to do with feminism - that was a tacky slogan invented by the Spice Girls' marketing team in the 1990s, but (like the Spice Girls) it's certainly nothing to do with feminism. Wake up, Greg, and smell the sexism. Women are people, too.
You have a great day, now.

Equality policy? What equality policy?

Shame on Bristol University Student Union. With a surly delay in sharing their information, we received this typically joyless response from the Student Union this week. Bad news.

The referendum came back on Friday - quorate (over 1000 votes) - with 58% voting in favour of allowing affiliated organisations (like clubs and societies) to develop links with Hooters if they choose to.

While I voted against this motion, I'm afraid there is little I can do when I am in the minority.  I'm sorry it is not a more favourable result.

[name removed]
SU President

"Little I can do", eh? Tut, tut. 


This ain't over. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

"Bikini contests in Bristol area"

Oh, and these are some other search terms used to find our blog... Yuck. Grum. Sigh.

"Should I be flattered to be a Hooters hostess" someone asked? I take comfort in the fact this poor woman even felt the need to ask, which implies her conscience was already troubled. The answer, just incase she's unclear, though, is: no, you should not be flattered. You should get a little self-respect and use some of those many qualifications that Hooters waitresses are always telling us they have, and find a more rewarding and respectable job. It'll pay you better, AND you get to cover up at work. Bonus.

Stats - How do people find this blog? Disturbing finds...

I was browsing the stats section of this blog earlier, curious to see how people were finding us. While hits have been fairly low as we haven't updated the blog for a bit, I was impressed to see that around 1,000 people overall have now visited us... in just a few months. But the search words they put into Google to find us are - at times - scary. See the screen grabs here:

I mean, 19 people found us by typing "christmas sex" into Google. What does that say about Hooters that an innocent web surfer looking for a page about gender issues in the festive season (what else would someone searching for "christmas sex" be looking for?!) was corrupted with our helpful post about how to report potential sexist behaviour at your office Christmas party? Tut tut.

And "christmas sex party"? Good lord. Presumably the folk who entered that were looking for guidance on how to have a gender-neutral celebration for the Christian holiday. Poor folk had to see the grim display of near-naked 'sexy Miss Santas' with their knickers out on our page - taken directly from Hooters in Nottingham's page. I can only apologise to those people, who probably felt the need to bleach their eyeballs afterwards. Ouch.

As for people searching for "hooters christmas" and "hooters christmas party" - let's just hope that reading our post warned them off holding their shindig at such a vile, sexist establishment. Goodwill to all women and men... and so on.

Hooters and Bristol University Student Union - Part Five (Sigh)

On March 8 (International Women's Day, fact fans) I heard - second hand - that there was to be a referenda at the Student Union yesterday (March 10). Bit rude that no one thought to invite me or any of the other people included in all the opposing emails and statements, but there you go...

Here's the gist (I've deleted the bits relating to irrelevant issues):

Referenda Announced: NUS, BUCS, industrial action by lecturers & Hooters
This March the Students' Union will be holding referenda with our members on a
range of issues. Read the official notice here:
I, [NAME REMOVED], being the appointed Deputy Returning Officer for the
University of Bristol Students’ Union have received notice that the Union
wishes to hold four referenda of the student body on the following topics:
* Should the University of Bristol Students’ Union activities, clubs and
societies be allowed to work with Hooters?
The referenda will be run in accordance with the rules of the Students’ Union.
Each referendum question will require a Yes Campaign Agent and a No Campaign
Agent. A debate discussing the 4 questions shall be held on: Thursday 10th March 2011
commencing at 6pm at (venue to be inserted).
Voting shall take place using first past the post system alongside the Union
elections between 10am Monday 14th March and 1pm on Friday 18th March 2011.
Results will be announced alongside the election results on Friday 18th March
2011 at Bar 100 from 7pm.

Feeling miffed at not being kept in the loop, I emailed the SU President a couple of times. It was only when I copied eveyrone else in that he answered. He said:


I'm sorry I did not reply to your email yesterday, I was indeed out of the office.

To set the record straight, we have sent this issue to a cross-campus referendum (along with our officer elections and three other referenda issues). This week is a period of discussion, and next week is a full week of open online voting for our membership.

There is a hustings/debate event planned for tomorrow evening, where people can come and ask questions or pose their various points of view. However, there will be no voting at this time. Our byelaws dictate that only members of the union can take part in these events, however, if anyone would like to observe them, you can contact [EMAIL REMOVED] who can arrange that. However, I would stress that it is unlikely that this event's discussions will rival the level of discussion happening in common rooms and student living rooms - where most students will make up their minds.

Voting will cease next Friday, and then results will be reported at the results evening later that day.

I hope that answers your queries.


[SU President] 


I'll be back to report next week on what the final outcome is. Hmm...

Hooters and Bristol University Student Union - Part Four (GOOD NEWS!)

Good news. After a LOOOOOOOOOONG wait, we got this reply on January 13... Here it is in full. Bit of an about face, eh?



I have been tasked with replying to your submission to our Board of Trustees regarding the matters of the recent epigram articles and the issue of Hooters.

The Board of Trustees was immediately sympathetic to your arguments, and felt positive that this was an important issue for students to grapple with. However, it was unanimously felt that both issues lay firmly outside the remit of the Board of Trustees and should be addressed to the Students' Union's democratic decision-making structures.

I am sorry if this is an unsatisfactory response to your points, and if you would like to enquire further into the rationale of the Board, the Chair can be contacted at [ADDRESS REMOVED].

With regard to the points made about Epigram, the Executive Committee has nothing to add to my previous response and does not feel a need to take the matter any further.

With regard to the point about Hooters and advertising, we feel it is imperative that this matter be treated with the utmost significance and be dealt with through our democratic structures as soon as can be arranged. Firstly, as I promised, we have monitored any advertising or sponsorship requests for any links back to Hooters and none have been made so we do not currently associate with them. Secondly, we feel the most appropriate (and also, the nearest) avenue to pursue this issue is our planned cross-campus referendum at the end of this month. We are currently incorporating it into our plans and feel confident that this would give a ban on Hooters the highest possible mandate.

I hope this is helpful in trying to find a solution to this serious issue. If you would like more information about this process, please feel free to contact me.


[SU President]


(Just one more to follow...)

Hooters and Bristol University Student Union - Part Three

Oh, there's more.

So unimpressed were we by the SU President's appalling tone and ignorant of these issues, that we raised the matter with the Board of Trustees at the Student Union, and submitted this statement - signed by a large number of people who collectively made up members of Bristol Fawcett, Bristol Feminist Network, Bristol University Feminist Society, lecturers at the Bristol University's Centre for Gender & Violence, and concerned individuals.

This is what we sent, in full:

Statement to trustees concerning the Student Union’s potential relationship with the Hooters breast-themed restaurant

Myself, and the people below, are very concerned about the potential relationship between societies and some media in the Bristol University Students’ Union and the Hooters breast-themed restaurant in Bristol.

We feel it is essential for the welfare of all students and members of the Union that Hooters is placed on the Union’s list of banned sponsors immediately, and that this matter is not deferred until the AGM in February.

We have contacted the staff at ‘Epigram’, as well as [NAME OF SU PRESIDENT], [NAME OF SU MANAGER] and some other sabbaticals at the Union, regarding this, but unfortunately have not yet had a satisfactory response.

‘Epigram’ has recently printed a number of pieces (notably several in the October 25 issue), which are extremely concerning from a sexist point of view, and in turn shows an implied tolerance towards violence against women. While we acknowledge ‘Epigram’ is produced by unqualified students, we also feel ‘Epigram’ should be more aware of the potential influence it has on the entire student body at the university and must therefore be monitored more closely by those with more experience of legal and equality matters.

For instance, one of the columnists in the above issue of ‘Epigram’ states that anti-Hooters campaigners claim Hooters girls are "prostitutes", which is an unhelpful assertion – bordering on libelous; is based on no truth (I would be interested to see in which reputable source she saw this claim, as I've been following this issue very closely and have never heard anyone say this); and perpetuates myths among people who wish to believe feminists are NIMBYs. As such, the writer and editor are responsible for the accuracy of what they print.

Similarly, despite what [NAME OF SU PRESIDENT] has told me (for your information, I am a Bristol University postgraduate, an feminist activist, I have been involved with the Hooters situation since August, and am up-to-date with the academic evidence proving the link between sexual entertainment venues like Hooters and the ensuing clear links to violence against women)… it's not merely a "leap of logic", as [NAME OF SU PRESIDENT] says, for me to say that by ‘Epigram’ printing biased coverage of Hooters and pole dancing, the paper is endorsing violence against women. It is a fact.

For instance, studies this year by the American Psychological Association state:

• 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.

Further research by H Sweeting and P West shows how 33% of young women have mental health issues relating to the increased view of women as only and always sex objects, and Deborah Tolman has referred to the phenomena of young women's self objectification leading to anhedonia (an inability to experience pleasurable emotions from normally pleasurable events).

Professors at Bristol University's Centre for Gender and Violence Research can explain this better than I can, and have put their names to this statement. They are happy to be contacted for more information.

A panel discussion hosted by Bristol University on October 21 discussed how this research relates to the treatment of female staff at Hooters. The paper given by Dr Helen Mott is here:

To conclude, we feel it is imperative that the trustees of Bristol University Students’ Union consider the following matters with immediate effect:

That Hooters be placed on the banned list by the Union in terms of sponsorship of any club or society, and be banned from any advertising or promotions within the Union, for the reasons listed above.
That the Student Union revisit its equality policy. At present it is seven words long (!) and very open to manipulation. By doing so, the Union would avoid the need to address these issues in the future. That ‘Epigram’ staff, and staff of any Union media, be given instructions from the trustees about the Union’s zero tolerance towards any sexism or violence towards women or men, in order to avoid any future incidences like those which have unfortunately occurred this term.

Thank you for your time,



(Sorry, there's more... To be continued...)

Hooters and Bristol University Student Union - Part Two

After a lot of badgering and persuading, we finally persuaded someone, somewhere at the Student Union to reply on November 4. He was not very polite or supportive. Here’s his answer – abbreviated for reasons for space, boredom (yours and mine) and, well, because I can… If you can’t be bothered to read the whole, trite thing, I’ve highlighted the most alarming bits in bold.


Firstly, I apologise for time that has elapsed since you emailed, I'm afraid it took some time to collect all the facts on this particular matter.

I'm sorry you and your fellow campaigner found my other reply to be 'wishy-washy' and 'unconstructive'. It was, however, an accurate and honest reply. The reality is that I am NOT able to make unilateral decisions to ban students from having ties with certain companies. We are a democratic organisation and have procedures for these things. Whether you agree with it or not, I am standing by these democratic procedures.

As for your point about endorsing violence against women - yes, I agree that the Students' Union and the University are united against violence perpetrated on women, or violence of any nature really.

What we are not prepared to do is make the leap of logic you have clearly made. It is by no means necessary that free speech and debate on feminism and women's perspectives on the world (especially in a world of Hooters) equates to endorsing violence against women. This claim is rooted in your opinion, which you are entitled to, but your opinion is not grounds for censorship.

As for your specific claims about the Epigram articles, I am afraid that after thorough review, we cannot find any fault with the representation provided. While you can take issue with the quality of writing, there was nothing legally problematic in the articles. After searching for evidence, your claims of factual inaccuracy and 'lap-dancing vouchers' appear to be baseless.

Let me make it clear that our Students' Union supports all student activity that is not harmful to people, and it extends this support equally to the Feminist Society and the Pole Dancing society. We support the debate about how 'empowering' these activities actually are for women, but we leave our members to make up their own minds about what to conclude.

Please bear in mind that I'm accountable to my membership rather than whichever member of the public is trying to bully people around to their point of view.

Before you accuse me of misogyny, note that I am a member of the Bristol Feminist Society and do not approve of Hooters or pole dancing. However, I am obliged to represent and defend the rights of ALL students that I represent - which means upholding their freedom of speech and their right to make decisions I don't agree with.

Yours Faithfully,


SU President 


(To be continued...)

Hooters and Bristol University Student Union - Part One

Just incase people think we’ve been quiet… we haven’t. So think again!
While the Hooters in Bristol has opened, we’re overjoyed to note that every time (without fail) we pass it (day or night, weekday or weekend), the place is usually almost deserted, with a few, lonely, sad men rattling around with the chilly women serving them grease on a tray. Even a visiting American friend (who doesn’t mind Hooters), said the Bristol one was a depressing example of an American chain. Hurrah.
But while it does remain a blot on Bristol’s copybook, we need to keep an eye on it and make sure the stain doesn’t spread. One thing we’ve been keeping watch on is whether Hooters takes it into their peabrains to start sponsoring sports teams at the Student Union, or advertising generally in the Student Union. Despite the Student Union having strict equality and gender policies, Hooters in Nottingham has managed to squirm its way into sponsoring not only university teams but SCHOOL sports teams (yuck).
Back in October, we were particularly unimpressed by a ‘for’ and ‘against’ piece in the student paper ‘Epigram’, which included a lot of ignorant and unhelpful comments (and a few out-and-out LIES) in the ‘for’ argument. I emailed the editor, the Student Union president, the equalities officer and a ton of others… this is a summary of that letter:

Dear [Epigram editor}

Today I picked up a copy of Epigram (dated October 25) and was dismayed but not surprised by the deliberately provocative and cheap journalism you have resorted to in favour of balanced and responsible reporting.

I’m specifically referring to your comment pieces for the Hooters breastaurant. [NAME REMOVED] has written a fair and sensible piece stating in a nutshell what she believes to be wrong with Hooters. While [NAME REMOVED] says that “boobies and chicken wings” are better than “vomit”: does she not think anyone will ever vomit outside Hooters?

[NAME REMOVED] asserts that protestors have labelled Hooters girls as prostitutes. As a newspaper editor, I am sure you have sourced the range of printed and valid evidence that you will know you legally require to back up such a slur against the anti-Hooters group, and I would call you to produce it in the light of making such a defamatory statement.

[NAME REMOVED] also digs out a tried reference to “bra burners”. If she had done a little homework she would realise that feminists never burned their bras, and this is a saggy myth brought out by people who know very little about something they have decided to be uptight about.

She makes reference to the “focus on food and a children’s menu”. Yet only paragraphs before she said “I will not attempt to claim that Hooters is a family fun restaurant”. I’m confused about what you think you think, [NAME REMOVED], and I think you are, too.

I will end by repeating a line from [NAME REMOVED]’s column: “This is not harmless.” She writes in reference to Hooters. I repeat it echoing her sentiments about Hooters, but also applying it to Epigram’s negative attitude to its female students. And yes, I noticed the editor and many of the staff are female.

Yours impatiently

(to be continued…)