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

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.