Since its licence application in 2010, Bristol Feminist Network and Bristol Fawcett have campaigned against the opening of self-styled ‘breastaurant’ Hooters. Just over a year later, we are happy to report that it has closed its doors for good.
We believe that Hooters contributed to the normalisation of the sexual objectification of women on our high street. We have repeatedly argued and demonstrated that the impact of this objectification culture is very real and far-reaching. Research from the American Psychological Association on the treatment of women as objects shows that:
• Pressure on women and girls to look and behave in certain ways negatively affects their self-esteem and their mental health.
• Gender inequality is reinforced, and hopes for a level playing field are dashed, when women are valued for their supposed sex appeal at the expense of their other attributes and qualities.
• After being exposed to images that sexually objectify women, men are significantly more accepting of sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, rape myths, and sex role stereotypes.
From its sexist and degrading imagery and language to its uniforms, signage and bikini contests, Hooters normalised a culture that values women as only and always sex objects. We argued that an establishment that seeks to make profit from sexism in this way had no place in a forward thinking and equal opportunity minded city like Bristol.
We are pleased to see that Bristol agreed with us. The fact that Hooters has now closed shows that its presence was not welcome in our city. Potential patrons of the restaurant voted with their feet.
We are of course sorry that its closure has resulted in women and men losing their jobs. However we hope that the premises are quickly filled, and new job opportunities created, by a company that doesn’t seek to treat women as sex objects. We look forward to celebrating the opening of a new harbourside restaurant soon, one that fits our vision for an equal and forward thinking Bristol.