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

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…)