UnderCover Waitress: Drama and Hooters

Friday, February 17, 2012

Drama and Hooters

A while back I took out a reference to blow jobs at Hooters restaurants. I had received a "we are not hookers! we are students!" email and decided that my flippant comment could be taken as fact. As I did not have specific facts at the time, I removed the joke.

Today, I have facts. It was in the mid-90's that a male manager was fired from Hooters for complaining about advice given to waitresses from a traveling employee trainer.

"In his April 7 U.S. District Court complaint... the 31-year-old Gray claims that a trainer named Cat told waitresses that they were 'the ones with the pussys [sic] and you are in control because of that.' Then she reportedly added, 'If you need the extra money, go ahead and suck a dick or fuck a customer if the money is right.'"


Whether or not this was an isolated incident is the subject of debate. Certainly, Hooters pays a contingent of lawyers to help keep them out of hot water and push a "wholesome" image.

The Ask Men website wants all Hooters customers to know that Hooters girls must sign a form giving up their rights to protection against sexual innuendo in the workplace.

'I hereby acknowledge...the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace.' 


Kari Lyderson, writing about the recent Titled Kilt sexual harassment lawsuit for Working in These Times, hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that punishing one predatory manager for his egregious behavior does not begin to deal with the disturbing cultural trend of objectifying young women in so-called "family" restaurants. (Or anywhere else, for that matter.)  She states:

"The reliance on tips to even make minimum wage is a problem for many restaurant employees—putting them at the whim of market fluctuations and unpredictable customers—but much more so at a place like the Tilted Kilt where many tipping customers expect a sexual dynamic that would likely be considered a "hostile workplace" in most other professional settings."


The television show, Under Cover Boss, aired a segment featuring the Hooters franchise. As a fully clothed waitress, I have certainly never been required to bend over and lick beans off of a plate with my hands tied behind my back before I got to go home. What is "wholesome" about this? Were the beans organic? Is that it?

CBS.com has a bonus scene you can watch online. The under cover boss shadows Amanda, a Hooters girl. It's hard not to like Amanda; she is working because she needs the money. At 23, she has a 2 year old child.

What drives me nuts, as a waitress, is the hair. Hooters girls are required to have "styled" hair. They are not allowed to put their hair back in bands or ponytails -- they can be fired for doing so. As a result, Amanda is constantly touching her hair (and, consequently, touching her face) to move the hair off of her face. Where I work, hair has to be held back so it doesn't fall in food. Repeatedly touching one's face is grounds for reminder, reprimand, and possibly being fired. This is a basic hygiene issue enforced in real restaurants.

 Sauce was my inspiration for today's post. She was also the inspiration for Inspiration and the Objectification of Women. She recently commented to let me know that when I discussed the sadness I feel over beauty myths, sexual objectification of women, and a predatory culture that not only judges the personal value of a woman by her figure but also has unrealistic expectations for what that figure should be, I got it all wrong.

Unfortunately, she has not (yet?) come back to answer a respectfully worded question from another Anonymous. He/She/It was interested in her opinions, as an intelligent and well-educated woman, of her boss using her breasts as a marketing tool.

For the record, when Sauce writes:

"Miami happening made me nervous.  It wasn’t the “job” of it that scared me, but rather the idea of living up to 100 of the most beautiful women in the world.   


Trust me, that is some scary, intimidating shit.  Luckily I quickly realized that – besides my rather small, totally real chest – I actually fit in pretty well body-wise...


 I was ready for bitches."

it is because she is

"the sort of person who is far more interested in personalities, intelligence and kindness." 


Got it.

4 comments :

  1. Hooters and wholesome... I'm just trying to wrap my head around the notion some marketing chimp at that company had to tie those together.

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    Replies
    1. The National Organization for Women (NOW) called out Hooters for being both "sex entertainment" and "family friendly' at the same time. I have to look up the details of that and write a post.

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  2. i'm only guessing here, but i have a feeling that those forms that they make the waitresses sign about giving up their rights to protection against sexual innuendoes was probably something that was actually meant when talking about customer/waitress relationships not manager/waitress relationships. and the managers having taken that form and stretched it to give THEM freedom to do and say what they want.
    i could be wrong.

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    Replies
    1. Or, you could be right. As much as it may intimidate the women into not complaining, I believe that if a Hooters girl challenged it and tried to file for sexual harassment and had a valid claim, she would be victorious. Another way to put it: the waiver is not worth the paper its written on. I can't ask you to give up your civil rights in return for employment.

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