Just Another Hairy Rug-Muncher Moaning About Hooters…

17 Aug
So, Cardiff Council have granted Hooters a license. Can’t say I’m massively surprised. CFN is hardly in a position to challenge a multinational company; the Licensing Act only allows for complaints if you’re a local resident or business owner; we found out about the license a few days before the deadline, unfortunately. I must say, too, it’s had quite a disproportionate amount of attention from the local media hasn’t it?! (Try getting press attention like that for a national violence against women campaign… just not sexy).
I’m pretty shocked at the dire levels of understanding and massive amounts of homophobia and misogyny which have characterised the (mostly online) debate, I must say. Nice to see that sexist comments haven’t evolved in the last 40 years (references to dungarees? Really, boys?!).
“Hairy-legged”, “flat-chested”, “dyke”, “rug-muncher”… yaaawn.
I guess if the Council needs any evidence of the kind of monosyllabic, homophobic, sexist idiots they’re catering to, it’s all there in black and white. And I guess no request to adhere to obligations under the Gender Equality Duty, or take into account research which shows links between establishments which promote the sexualisation of women with increased violence against them, or anything else boring or relevant or non-sensationalist can sway them. I understand that they’re strictly limited under the Licensing Act; perhaps it’s the Act that needs to change though eh?
A few things I’ve been particularly bothered by, seeing as I’m here:

1. “Shouldn’t you be campaigning for an end to violence against women / for equal pay / against lapdancing clubs?”
— Probably a personal gripe but, um, we are. Massively. As individuals, as members of organisations and as employees of organisations working hard on all of the above. When you view these issues as inter-connected, it make sense to tackle them all, no?
2. “These women choose to work there!”
— That’s not the point. The argument is not “do they jump or are they pushed?”; it’s not us trying to be moral guardians of anyone; in some ways, it’s not even predominantly about the women who work there (although you might want to check out the standard Hooters employment contract and make up your own minds about what would happen if harassment did occur, for example).
It’s about the message that Hooters (and other such establishments which work on the premise of turning women into sex objects) sends out to both men and women about what women’s role is in society, and the damage that does to both men and women, boys and girls, and gender equality more broadly. I could go into this further but it’s been well-documented elsewhere, including in comments from Anna below.
Also slightly ironic hearing the pro-choice slogan “it’s their right to choose!” thrown back at us, huh?!
3. “It’s bringing jobs to Cardiff in a recession!”
— Yep, and I know if I wasn’t such a hairy, rug-munching, flat-chested dyke – if I was a “normal” girl needing work and unable to find any, which is pretty likely considering the rubbish job market in Cardiff at the moment – I’d be considering all my options. If Hooters was one of them, I’d be much more likely to take that on than I would be in a time of economic stability. Freedom to choose when you need any job you can get becomes a bit more murky, if anything.
That’s my 5 cents. I’ve been avoiding the blogosphere like the plague that it is but feeling somewhat inspired. Over to the trolls. xoxox
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5 Responses to “Just Another Hairy Rug-Muncher Moaning About Hooters…”

  1. Katie August 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Must say, I’m really angry about this.

    For one thing, as far as I can see it Hooters’ sexist hiring and employment practices are ILLEGAL under British and European Union sex discrimination legislation. Section 21a of the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act does allow exceptions for *Genuine Occupational Qualificaitons’ – such as jobs in the caring professions where someone is needed specifically to physically care for members of their own sex, or where a person of a certain sex is required for authenticity in a theatrical production. Yet if Hooters is a restaurant chain (as it claims to be) as a pose to an illegal sex-shop then it is NOT covered as a legimate exemption under Section 21a of the Sex Discrimination Act. So, why therefore, are Hooters allowed to act above the law by Cardiff City Council. Did money secretly change hands? I mean, I’m not saying it did; but can we really rule out that this powerful US company did not give them a ‘backhander’ either? The law is the law for the rest of us – so just why, exactly, is it different for a privileged few? This is an issue that should be of concern for everyone – not only on a feminist level. It makes a mockery of a nation’s laws when a foreign company can come along and totally ignore that law; in fact, it makes a mockery of a nation(!)

    There are 90 posts that are going to be available as a result of Hooters opening in Cardiff – as it’s supporters are so fond of reminding us. I wonder what would happen if 90 pro-feminist males applied for those posts and then took out a massive lawsuit against Hooters for their breach of British and EU sex discrimination laws? I’m sure that it would get lots of publicity from the press (even if negative from the right-wing sexist tabloids). But Hooters USA would not be able to argue against the laws of a foreign country without international incident – at least. This might be one way to drive Hooters out of not only Cardiff, but also Nottingham and thus any European Union country as a whole. Failing that, the act of drawing such attention to breach of the law might, at least, perform the duty of letting everyone know that the law can be manipulated by bribery.

    • feministcardiff August 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

      Good points. If you want a straight-down-the-line, legal answer, I’d advise phoning the Equality and Human Rights Commission Helpline for Wales: 0845 604 8810. Let us know how you get on… However, I think that if lapdancing clubs can get away with existing and their hiring policies under existing legislation, I’d imagine Hooters have it covered to be honest. But worth finding out, if only to satisfy your curiosity and get clued-up on the legalities for future reference.

      In answer to your question:

      “The law is the law for the rest of us – so just why, exactly, is it different for a privileged few?”

      – I’m afraid the simple answer is “money”, isn’t it?! Outrageous and true.

      Like your idea about getting loads of pro-feminist men to apply. They’re opening one in Bristol too – and Bristol Feminist Network are actively opposing it. We’ve been in touch quite a lot recently and have quite a few ideas up our sleeves which I won’t post here but yeah, the recent media attention could be helpful. Watch this space…

      Thanks for your post! Hx

  2. Katie August 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    Thanks feministcardiff. And, stuff the trolls (what’s the betting that they’re connected to Hooters in some way?) There are more of us who admire your tenacity, hard work and courage in standing up to bullies than certain sections of the establishment tries to suggest. We can see past their spin and are also extemely frustrated by their manipulative tactics.

  3. feministcardiff August 20, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    Thanks for your support Kate! Yeah it’s frustrating but it helps to know that there are loads of people thinking the same thing and not buying into it. 🙂

  4. Katie August 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    If it helps, I think that William McTaggart, the boss of Hooters, has actually publically incriminated himself in the following statement by claiming Hooters is this:

    “It’s a restaurant. A lot of people get confused by what it is, but we are in the restaurant business , nothing else.”

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/showbiz/2010/08/10/hooters-boss-hits-back-at-criticism-91466-27029770/

    As far as I know, under the Sex Discrimination Act there is no Genuine Occupational Qualification exemptione allowed for restaurants.

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