Thursday, 19 August 2010

Please don't open hooters

I've written to the council to object to Hooters opening in Bristol. The licensing committee sits on 1st September so all late representations need to be in by then.

This whole issue is making me depressed.

Feel free to copy and paste my letter as you wish:

I am writing to you to lodge my objection to the proposed opening of a Hooters restaurant in Bristol City Centre. I understand that the licensing committee is sitting on the 1st September and I hope you will take my late representation in to account.

My first objection rests on the impact on the environment surrounding Hooters.

It is well documented that where sex entertainment venues open, women moving around in the surrounding environment suffer from increased levels of sexual harassment and violence. I understand that Hooters is not an SEV, however it does make its money through presenting women as sex objects for entertainment. This would, therefore, have a similar impact on women in the area surrounding the proposed Hooters site. It is not acceptable for a business to open that would make women feel unsafe in city centre spaces, because they would be at risk of, or fear verbal and even physical harassment. Hooters encourages its customers to indulge in sexual innuendo and asks their waitresses to play along. We need to ask how can we know whether this 'innuendo' will spill out of the restaurant and result in customers harassing women passers by in ways the women may perceive as threatening.

Many women would not feel comfortable walking past an establishment that so clearly treats women as little more than sex objects. They may find the atmosphere around the restaurant hostile, or even threatening. It is not acceptable that women should feel excluded from public spaces that are, after all, for all members of the public.

My second objection is to the blatant disregard to equalities law that Hooters has. I would like to know whether the equalities team have been consulted in order to assess the impact on women and minority groups in the city? Hooters refuses to employ male waiting staff, and would also discriminate against trans people, women who choose to wear religious dress, older women and women with physical disabilities. It is simply not acceptable that a business should be permitted to so blatantly ignore anti-discrimination practise enshrined in UK law when hiring waiting staff. These laws are in place to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to get work. It is for this reason, for example, that you are not asked your age when applying for a job. A company's brand values should not be allowed to trump equality law and it is clearly unacceptable to have an employment policy that so clearly discriminates against so many groups of people.

Finally I would like the licensing committee to ask the Hooters' representatives how they plan to deal with any incidents of inappropriate touching of waitressing staff. The correct way for a business to deal with inappropriate touching of an employee is to report the offender and incident to the police. Please note that ejecting the offender from the establishment is not appropriate action.

I understand that licensing applications do not take moral objections. Therefore all my objections are based on environmental impact and legal ramifications of Hooters opening in Bristol.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,
Sian Norris

15 comments:

Caroline said...

Ugh, how awful-i hope your campaign works! I'm a new reader to your blog by the way, liking it :)
xxxxxxxx

Nicola said...

Thanks for this template Sian. I used it as a base for the email which I've sent:

Dear Mr. Burchell,

Please accept this objection to the proposed opening of a Hooters restaurant in Bristol City Centre. I understand that the licensing committee is meeting on the 1st September and I hope you will take my late representation in to account.

As Hooters is not classified as a Sexual Entertainment Venue, then I question how it can mandate the use of all-female waiting staff. The skills required to serve customers in a restaurant may include a friendly demeanour, good memory, ability to balance trays of drinks and food, ability to carry a certain amount of weight, and perhaps some basic maths skills. To be a successful server, however, does not require one to be of a particular gender, from a particular age bracket, or without religious affiliation.

If Hooters was classified as a Sexual Entertainment Venue then one might be able to argue that being a sexually attractive female is part of the role of the waiting staff. However, this is not the case and the restaurant is being promoted as a family-friendly environment. As with any restaurant, men just as well as women can perform the task of serving. Please see numerous other restaurants in Bristol and other cities as examples of men working as waiting staff in a highly skilled and successful way.

I would like to refer the licensing committee to the Equality Act 2010 which comes into force in October 2010. Direct discrimination is defined in section 13(1) Equality Act 2010 as a situation where ‘A treats B less favourably than he treats or would treat other persons’. By only employing female waiting staff, Hooters would be treating males less favourably than other persons solely based on one of the protected characteristics – sex. A company's brand values should not be allowed to trump equality law. This is unacceptable and against the law.

Finally, I would also like the licensing committee to take into account the environmental impact of allowing Hooters to exist in the city centre location in Bristol. By objectifying women as sexual objects, Hooters promotes a culture in which women are treated as the property of men. It is well established that the areas surrounding venues which sexually objectify women see an increased level of sexual harassment and violence against women. It is not acceptable for a business to open that impacts on the safety of women in city centre spaces, putting them at an increased risk of verbal and even physical harassment.

My above objections to Hooters are not based on moral arguments but are founded in the equality laws of this country and on the environmental impact in the surrounding public spaces.

All the best,

Nicola Garwood

sian and crooked rib said...

thanks nicola - what a fab letter.

pees said...

Can I just confirm that you ladies have also written a similar letter to the council regarding the halt of the butlers in the buff firm operating in Bristol also? As they wear far more revealing uniforms than the hooters girls and the job opportunities are limited to male staff only? Or are you jut upset about hooters?

sian and crooked rib said...

i haven't i'm afraid but feel free to run your own campaign!

if you are worried about the objectification of men in employment then i am sure you will find many people to support you in your efforts.

good luck! i look forward to hearing more about your campaign.

sian and crooked rib said...

apparently pees was being sarcastic...it's alright my dear so was i!

i won't be printing his comment as it was a wee bit on the aggressive side.

pees said...

It was hardly aggressive, I think you are just worried that my points may be right and you'll be shown for the hypocrite that you are. I knew you wouldn't post it when I sent it as you will only post comments that agree with or don't detract from your flawed argument.
Your a hypocrite, your not a femininst and most likely eaten up by jealousy.

sian and crooked rib said...

ok sweety, i posted your comment now.

one thing though that i might add to my policy.

your- your
you're - you are.

who, pray, am i meant to be jealous of? pretty women? i'm not in the habit of being jealous of people, especially other women. women get enough crap thrown at them without jealousy being put in the mix.

i think it is aggressive to call someone an uptight hypocrite who sane people don't agree with? it's offensive anyway and i have a very clear comments policy.

anyway, i won't post any of your other comments so please don't post again.

pees said...

Do you not wish to know of the hypocrisies of which I speak? Or are you willing to admit them?

sian and crooked rib said...

i couldn't give a monkey's uncle but lets see if i can guess shall we? it's a fun game.

Hypocricies:

You think if i complain about the objectification of women, i should complain about the objectification of men.
this is a silencing argument and ignores the fact i do care. but seeing as there is no business putting through a planning application for a restaurant that objectifies men, there's nothing for me to complain about.

You think that as a feminist i shouldn't dictate to other women what they do with their bodies. This ignores the fact that i am not telling other women what to do with their bodies. i am telling a business that they should not break equality laws and should not discriminate against:
Men
Women who wear religious dress
Women who are bigger than a size 10 or whatever
Trans people
Gender queer men and women
Disabled men and women
Older men and women
Nothing whatsoever to do with what women want to do with their bodies.

What other hypocricies could you be about to accuse me of?
Hmm, let me think.

Oh - that women feel empowered by working at hooters, and who am i to judge about what makes a woman feel empowered? Again, i don't judge other women. People like you seem perfectly capable of doing that. But i don't feel empowered by being harassed on the street outside a venue that treats women as sex objects.

did you know hooters fired a woman worker because she was a victim of domestic violence? or give women a 30 day limit to lose weight or they get fired? are you really comfortable defending a company that fires a vulnerable woman because her black eye doesn't reflect the brand?

BookElf said...

Hi Pees, so you have a well crafted, thought out an inciteful framework for a letter to the council to complain about the bar you mentioned?
Cos if you don't, then what is the point of devaluing Sian's totally relevent and needed campaign?
Personally, I'm too ugly to get a job in Hooters, but what pisses me off the most is when it was pointed out to the brand in the US that refusing to employ both men/women/self-identifying men and women because of their gender (unless in special circumstances that require a massive overview by a sepperate body) is illegal, they set up a marketing campaign where the male manager put on a blonde wig and the orange shorts/t-shirt, to show how 'silly' equality laws are. Thus showing now only a blatent transphobic element to the whole Hooters enterprise, but also a continuation of the capitalisation of herteronormative culture.
If a man willing to pay more money to look at women's breasts because he thinks that's what 'men' do, that man is being taken advantage of by capiltalists, just as much as the woman is.

Posie Parker said...

How can we help?

sian and crooked rib said...

hi posie - plenty you can do! if you live in bristol come to a meeting tonight at cafe kino, from 7pm. otherwise take a look on www.ukfeminista.org to see how we're targetting m&s. there's also loads of info on our facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=8119250015&ref=ts

i don't want to post too much here because i keep getting hate comments - ahh the joys of idiots on the internet.

Posie Parker said...

Thanks, can;t make it tonight. You know that Mumsnet is discussing this in both main and feminist sections...many of us have mailed a variety of people at M&S, Council and MPs./

sian and crooked rib said...

i heard the debate was running on mumsnet, that's great news. i am probably going to keep info about hooters off this blog (because of hate comments) and on the uk feminista site, so watch that space for more info. thanks for keeping the campaign going.