Say No to Sexism in Our City

6 Aug

A branch of the American restaurant chain ‘Hooters’ is planned to open in Mary Ann Street in Cardiff, close to the Cineworld complex.

Cardiff Feminist Network has launched a campaign to say no to this sexism, objectification and exploitation. The online community of feminists in Cardiff hotted up yesterday in response to the news that Hooters could open.

A branch could bring with it antisocial behaviour, particularly from large stag parties who have caused problems in the only other restaurant in the UK in Nottingham, as well as the spreading of the sex industry in the city.

More of a concern is what Hooters could expect from the women of Cardiff who could potentially be employed as ‘Hooters Girls’. In other branches they have to sign a contract that requires them to consent to sexual harassment; it reads “I hereby acknowledge and affirm that the Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and that the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace.” Worst case scenario would be a rise in the reporting of sexual harassment in Wales, as has happened in other areas in the US where Hooters have opened.

Many of the 183 members of Cardiff Feminist Network have pledged to write to the licensing department to raise objections. The campaign has also led to a rise in membership.

Sally Hughes says that ‘It is great to know that there are so many people in Cardiff who are passionate about this issue. The next step will be a protest outside City Hall on Wednesday, the deadline date for objections.  What we need now are as many people who are resident in the area to join our campaign.’

In response to Cllr Simon Pickard: Does Cardiff really want to be ‘fairly tacky’ – look at the investment in the St Davids 2! Variety is great, using sex to sell food, not so great.  The objectification of women is not taken seriously enough in our society. Does mass market consumerism take precedence over the values that support women and family life in Wales?

Hooters turns women into sex objects – not in my city thank you – join the campaign on Say No to Hooters in Cardiff on Facebook!

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9 Responses to “Say No to Sexism in Our City”

  1. DJ Leekee August 7, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    I particularly take offense at the line
    “A branch could bring with it antisocial behaviour, particularly from large stag parties who have caused problems in the only other restaurant in the UK in Nottingham, as well as the spreading of the sex industry in the city.”

    On a typical Saturday night in Cardiff City centre I see numerous stag and hen do’s going up and down St Mary Street. I reckon the ratio of what i have seen is about 60% hen do’s to about 40% of stag do’s.

    Both are equally drunk, loud and annoying. And I dont see why you have singled out the stag do’s as particularly antisocial!
    We all know that women can’t handle their drink and are so more annoying when drunk!

    If anything the introduction of Hooters to Cardiff should be seen as a good things (using your text) as at least all this alledged anti-social behaviour will be self contained in one bar rather than strewn all around our wonderful city.

    At the end of the day, let the punters decide! Many bars have attempted to survive in the unit that The Hooters intend opening up in and if it proves popular will surely be a good thing for the city in making use of an empty unit, bringing more jobs and giving us some more variety of entertainment and venue that a capital city deserves.

    • Anna August 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

      Whether or not women can hold their drink is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand (not to mention a rather sexist remark!). The question is whether Hooters encourages the perception of women as sexual objects for consumption, and whether it encourages men’s sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, by normalising ogling in public and sexist commentary. The answer is clearly yes.

      Why should a ‘Hooters Girl’ have to sign a declaration saying “I do not find my job duties, uniform requirements, or work environment to be offensive, intimidating, hostile, or unwelcome”? Surely if we are talking about an environment as lovely and welcoming as Hooters, no such declaration would be necessary?

      The argument that this will create jobs is also spurious. What kind of jobs do we want to be creating in Cardiff? Jobs for which hiring practises are highly discriminatory, which require employees to smilingly accept harassment, which teach women that their bodies are only valuable insofar as they are beautiful enough to sell products? Is this the kind of image our ‘capital city deserves’ and wants to promote?

      As for calling stag parties antisocial, I think there is a strong case for them being perceived as such by women, since they tend to involve blatant objectification and harrassment, which we find intimidating.

  2. Paul August 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Having been to Hooters in Nottingham three times with my wife, once as part of a large group, it is clear that you know nothing about Hooters. In what world can anyone describe women wearing shorts and vests as a sex industry?

    I have seen women and families in Hooters and everyone had a good time, the atmosphere is great and the way the staff dress has little to do with this.

    In a time where there is large levels of unemployment, surely a development that will create many jobs should be welcomed?

    I trust that you have a similar campaign against the Fantasy Lounge and will oppose any male strip shows held in St David’s Hall and the city’s many gay clubs?

    • Gamine August 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

      Sounds like you would be proud to see your wife or daughter working at Hooters…

  3. valleysmam August 11, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    I so agree it seems that the issue has brought the ” boys” silly attitudes out in men I thought would have been more mature
    Just the name makes me sad. I though we had moved on from this

  4. Al Beer August 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    get a bloody life will you woman. The women who will work in hooters will work there because they want to. NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE FORCED AGAINST THEIR WILL.

    BUILD A BRIDGE AND GET OVER IT

    • Anna August 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

      Respectfully, I would like to suggest that the commentator should analyse why he experienced such a virulent and aggressive response to the blog posting. It seems incommensurate to the tone and content of the article, which says nothing about women being forced to work at Hooters. I would venture to speculate that the commentator feels threatened by the prospect of a challenge to his male privilege.

      It’s true that nobody forces anyone to work at Hooters. No single individual holds a gun to these women’s heads. He doesn’t have to — because society as a whole does it on his behalf. Women are socialised (by the media for example) to believe that their attractiveness to men is their greatest asset, and that their bodies exist in order to serve men’s pleasure. Men are socialised (by pornography for example) to believe that they have an entitlement to women’s bodies and that women should be sexually available to them at all times. These attitudes are harmful because they inhibit the full-fledged personal development of women as human beings equal to men. These attitudes are what enable rape to be perceived as a lesser crime. Hooters may seem like an innocent bit of fun, but in fact it is very deeply connected to the attitudes within society which perpetuate inequality and allow ‘occupations’ like stripping and prostitution to exist.

      Any use of a woman’s body which takes away her ownership of herself and turns her into an object for consumption should be seen as detrimental to all women, hence why Hooters should be opposed.

      Imagine, in any other context, a woman wearing almost nothing, in a room full of men. Do you think she would feel comfortable? Do you think she would want to work in this environment? Then why should this be acceptable in the context of a restaurant?

  5. Richard Keane August 14, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    This is a comment (which is yet to be published) in reply to Hooters In Cardiff? Which can be found here: http://www.thesprout.co.uk/en/news/hooters-in-cardiff/02572.html
    Hopefully it adds to a wider debate. I have not included my comments regarding action or tactics as I did not think it was the suitable place for that discussion and my comment was already overly long for what I expect is warranted or expected. Part of your piece I would have liked to include in my own, this should be clear from my own comments in the piece.

    The banality of this article is only matched by Pasternak’s reply which I will respond to here.

    The argument of the ‘liberal’ (‘caring’) employer (otherwise known as the capitalist):
    “Some may feel that women are being demeaned by such a restaurant opening its doors, but nobody will be forced”

    As with all modern work places (read capitalist enterprises), no one is physically coerced into selling their social labour power. However, if we as workers’ are to survive, eat, pay rent, have at least some mediocre form of existence (i.e not starve to death etc) we are forced to sell our social labour power. That is the limit of our freedom. The freedom of workers’ to be exploited by the capitalist.

    The fact is if you are ‘lucky’ enough to get a job in this particular ‘restaurant’ you are forced to wear what the capitalist tells you to wear. There is no choice. A worker may feel as though not only their labour is being exploited (surplus profit etc) but also their bodies, spiritually (not in the religious sense), and feel demeaned in numerous ways.

    …God forbid we should want to eat…

    Let’s take an example, a worker quits her job because the conditions of work and pay are being purposefully driven down by the capitalist, not an uncommon occurrence. And she’s just had enough, she’s sick of it. The surveillance, discipline, mind-numbing boredom, lack of control or say in her work combined with the bosses attacks are too much to take. (Perhaps she wasn’t aware of Trade Unions, workers’ rights, or independent organising with fellow workers’ i.e members of her own class. Perhaps she did but was so fed up (perhaps exhausted by the so-called freedom she has, simply given up?). After a short period, somewhat refreshed from the freedom to exploit herself she recognises full well she needs to again become a wage-slave, to exist.
    She applies for many jobs in an area where jobs are scarce and hard to come by including several she thinks are shit, but in reality they’re all shit. The experience from the last job has given her a further insight into what it is to be a worker and how they are treated, the division between worker and boss, and the relentless drive for profits.

    To cut a long story short, she gets a job at Hooters which unfortunately her friend can’t apply for, for a crime against capitalist enterprise, being a man. Perhaps he could try and get a job in the kitchen where: “If you’re looking to have fun and make money while you work, this is the place to be!” – (Hooters Employment) As if being paid was some kind of bonus! The young Marx comes into his head for a brief fleeting moment: “Labour is external to the worker, that is, it does not belong to his essential being. Therefore he does not affirm himself in his work but denies himself. He does not feel contented but dissatisfied. He does not develop freely his physical and spiritual energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself to be himself outside his work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He is at home when he is not working and when he is working, he is not at home.”

    …The same contradictions, the same misery…

    Our worker is now on less pay than her last job and is being forced to sell her body as well as vastly over-priced ribs, burgers and steaks. But we don’t just mean literally sell her body, all workers’ are forced to do that. Lest we forget, “we are all prostitutes”. In this case she has been employed because she meets the distinct criteria, she meets the commercial requirements. She’s had to alter her appearance to get the look required for employment. And it is still altered further by the capitalist. She feels slightly ridiculous and knows full well it is in the interest of the bosses profit and not in some pseudo liberation of womankind. No doubt countless other workers’ did not meet the requirements of ‘the market’.

    I’ll leave it up to someone else to give an impression of what it may feel like to work in such a place and in such an environment where sexuality is so clearly a selling point and what this does to social relations etc. It doesn’t even have to be as explicit as Hooters.

    I will continue with some comments in relation to Pasternak:

    “The key word here is *IMBECILTY*. Hooters staff wear more than the average girl stumbling down St Mary Street on a Saturday night.”

    Pasternak fails to recognise the simplest of differences. In that, during the little non work time workers have they are largely free to wear what they want and how they want it. This can be denied by backward, fundamentalist or conservative ideology or institution though and we know that it is. The political economy of ‘fashion’ or social/cultural critique is for another time and perhaps another place. I have already dealt with at length his following sentence. The concluding comments by Pasternak, crucially the penultimate paragraph are a nonsense which in part contradict all that he has said. His conservatism is clear throughout his comments as is his reactionary ideology concerning the economy, as far as I’m concerned he clearly sides with the article which poses questions that were once ‘given’s’ like: Is the exploitation of women okay for monetary gain? The article offers no analysis and only poses to bring into question reactionary ideas as being the ‘right’ ideas.

    Richard Keane

    • Anna August 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

      Interesting analysis Richard, it’s great to see someone giving the issue some in-depth thought rather than a knee-jerk reaction!

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