Sex sells–that’s what we’ve been told again and again. Apparently, it’s working.
In high school, as soon as the guys in my class could drive, their favorite place to eat out was Hooters. “I go there for the wings!” was the general statement used to defend their classy choice of restaurant. Of course, everyone knew that for these teenage guys, the food was second on their minds. Hooters is a chain of sports bar and grill restaurants known for their hot-wings and hot-waitresses. This franchise is quite proud of their “World Renowned Hooters Girls,” who are the warn and welcoming waitresses dressed in short shorts and low, tight shirts.
This restaurant provides several “American” favorites: sports, tasty meat, lots of beer, and attractive women in revealing clothing… Wait, aren’t those also the stereotypical male favorites? This company is using the attractiveness of their waitresses as a draw for specific clientele: straight males. The stereotypical male is straight and white, has a mid-paying job, loves meat, and enjoys sports and women. Hooters is the perfect place for someone like that!
Since the inception of Hooters in the late 1900’s, several other “Breastaurants,” or restaurants with a sex-appeal draw, usually in the form of attractive female waitresses in revealing clothing, have popped up, including Show-Me’s, Twin Peaks, and Bikini’s. Companies like this have often faced legal charges for discriminatory practices, such as using race, gender, or physical shape as a qualification for hire. They do hire men and women equally for other jobs in the restaurant, like food preparation, cleaning, and bar tending, but the wait-staff seems to be only females. Every time I think of these waitresses, I wonder how much cat-calling and offensive comments they are exposed to on a daily basis. Rumor has it that Hooters Girls have to sign a consent form regarding sexual jokes and comments, which are normal because of the sex-appeal draw of the place.
One has to wonder, where do non-cisgender people fit in this sort of environment? Has Hooters ever hired a trans- person? Are restaurants like Hooters representative of many typical American values, and what does that say about our society if they are? Is it okay for these restaurants to allow what would normally be considered sexual harassment?