More on Hooters

// 11 April 2008

As Laura has posted about, Hooters is planning to open a branch of its “breastaurant” in Sheffield, then expand across the UK.

Today’s Guardian Women includes a feature by Julie Bindel, who visited Hooters in Nottingham and also interviewed some of the people campaigning against the chain.

As I sit waiting for my fajitas, a crowd of men start celebrating their friend’s 18th birthday. The birthday boy stands on the table, strips off his shirt, puts on a Hooters child-size T-shirt (available for kids as young as three, these read “Life Begins at Hooters”), and downs a pint of lager in one go. Several “Hooters girls” rush over, banging out a tune on their drink trays and chanting, “It’s your birthday, yes it’s true, and we’re gonna sing for you.” In the US, Hooters girls take part in other displays too, including wet T-shirt contests that come with a sadistic twist – the T-shirt is pre-chilled in the freezer. One lawyer for Hooters summed up the chain’s ethos when he dubbed its venues “Breastaurants”.

And do the men who visit Hooters treat the women who work there with perfect respect? Well:

Not surprisingly, a number of sexual harassment lawsuits have been filed over the years by former Hooters girls, following a notorious case against the company in Florida in which the plaintiff alleged that she had been subjected to “an endless torrent of sexually inappropriate remarks, demands for sex and uninvited touching that created a situation in which no reasonable woman would have continued to work”. It is unclear how many cases have been brought since, but a former Hooters manager, based in the US, tells me that the majority have been settled out of court. The Hooters spokesperson says there have only been “a handful” of lawsuits given the company’s 17,000 employees.

And then:

Apart from a few couples, most of the customers at the Nottingham branch are, as you would expect, young men. I ask two male students why they like coming to Hooters. “For the girls,” one laughs. Our waitress confirms that she’s heard it all before. “Most men comment on the ‘lovely jugs’ when I carry pitchers to their tables,” she says. “I just wish they would come up with something original.”

Jan Macleod, of the Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation, which is campaigning against Hooters opening in Scotland, says the chain normalises the sexual exploitation and harassment of young women, and tacitly increases the acceptability of more extreme venues, such as lap-dancing clubs. “Their website says, ‘Whoever said you can’t get paid for something you love doing, never worked at Hooters,'” says Macleod. “I don’t think young women do ‘love’ the sexual harassment, any more than female customers ‘love’ to see women staff being objectified.”

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Comments From You

Jorma // Posted 11 April 2008 at 2:46 pm

I am going to do everything in my power to stop one of these opening in my hometown. I’ve been on the council website but I can’t see anything about any applications. Grr it makes me so mad,I just don’t get how people have the cheek to open places like this. It’s such a slap in the face. And it’ll be over my dead body before one of these opens near me.

rose hasty // Posted 11 April 2008 at 4:31 pm

Yeah, Sheffield is my hometown, although I don’t live there any more I think it would be terrible for this to be allowed.

Is there a campaign website, mailing list or blog where we can follow the progress of the campaign/hear about demos/council meetings etc?? That way I can make sure I’m available for protests etc

helen // Posted 11 April 2008 at 7:00 pm

can you imagine how it feels to discover your husband has actually been to one of these places, even after you had specifically requested he did go? And then lied about it! I’m discussed at these places that treat women as fodder.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 11 April 2008 at 8:19 pm

What is the point of legislation passed in respect of sexual harassment within the workplace and sex discrimination when Hooters blatantly state they will only employ ‘suitable women.’ Hooters are sending a clear message that they don’t give a ‘hoot’ for sex discrimination act or sexual harassment act. After all boys need their regular dose of misogyny masquerading as ‘entertainment.’

Kirsty Bowen // Posted 11 April 2008 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for covering this on F word.

If you would like to sign the petition or get involved, join the facebook group at


funny // Posted 12 April 2008 at 3:02 am

funny, why don’t you attack the women who work there for being slappers, why attack the establishment, dont assume the females are always innocent! jesus, the women who work there deserve all the attention they get! They chose to work there! they know what hooters is! These women probably work part time in soft porn anyway, why take pity on them! thye love their jobs! And what use is joining an anti-hooter group on facebook, people on facebook are a bunch of dossers! they join a group and never return to it! thats why the forums in the facebook groups are always empty!

Laura // Posted 12 April 2008 at 9:48 am

I don’t attack the women there for being slappers because I’m not a misogynist, and I would never call anyone a slapper – it’s a word used to demean and shame women. NO ONE “deserves” to be sexually harrassed.

Yes, some women will choose to work there, but that choice is made in a society where women are valued for their sex appeal, so some will inevitably take a job that validates that. Some women may have no problems working there or dealing with the customers. But some women choosing to work there doesn’t mean that the Hooters’ view of women is OK. As long as women are primarily valued and viewed as sex objects for male pleasure/entertainment, all women suffer, because that status allows us to be discriminated against and “justifies” male sexual harassment of women, the myths about rape (she asked for it because she had her breasts out, she wanted it really etc etc), paying us less or barring our access to certain jobs. We will not be seen or treated as equals with equal rights as long as the culture of which Hooters is a part insists that our greatest asset is our breasts, and that these exist for men to look at and make money out of.

Other women have to take any job going, and they shouldn’t have to put up with the Hooters uniform and sexual harassment in order to make a living. Callers on the show last night who claimed that no one has to do a job they don’t like are naive. You think people CHOOSE to empty bins or clean toilets day in, day out for years on end? People have to make ends meet, and they should not have to put up with the Hooters environment in order to do so. I don’t think the women who choose to work there should have to, either.

As for facebook – the group has enabled us to mobilise strong opposition to Hooters in Sheffield and is the reason I was on national radio discussing this subject last night.

That’s the only comment I’ll be publishing which refers to Hooters’ female employees in a derogotary way.

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