Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
The word “hooters” paints a colourful picture for a lot of people. The picture can be very different, depending who you ask. If you look up the definition on Word, for example, you will see that it is simply an “offensive term”. For many men, when there is a mention of Hooters Restaurant, visions of greasy wings, pitchers of beer and girls running around in microscopic, orange shorts are often what come to mind. Feminists see their efforts at empowering women vanish. They see a venue where women are exploited and men can act like pigs. For the employees of Hooters, the only thought that occurs to them is that prettier girls mean more money. You may have noticed that there is a recurring pattern between these different perspectives. The Hooters Girl is a large, if not determining, factor of Hooters’ success.
The vast majority of Hooters guests are straight men and the reasons for this are fairly obvious. The biggest reason is the Hooters Girls. What man wouldn’t want to be served his favourite food and pitcher upon pitcher of beer by a scantily clad waitress? According to one of my closest friends, going to Hooters is “like going to dinner and a show, only the show flirts with you and doesn’t sing irritating songs” (Lacroix). One of the unique things about Hooters that is illustrated in his comment is that the Hooters Girls are encouraged to sit with their tables and make friends. The friendlier they are, the more money they are likely to make. If they spend time with their tables, add a personal touch to the service they give and even flirt, it will be noticed and appreciated. I was told that one girl had a man order crab legs and since the girl had nobody else sitting in her section, she sat with him and cracked each crab leg for him. This earned her a $200.00 tip (Kamen). Exceptional service like this is what Hooters Girls are told to strive for.
Upon hiring, Hooters Girls get a handbook in which they sign multiple documents stating that they are aware of the fact that “the Hooters concept is based upon female sex appeal and that the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace” (34). Customers ask for phone numbers and offer a plethora of cheesy pick-up lines that they believe to be irresistibly charming. The Hooters Girls become impervious to all of these things and simply laugh it off as a joke while making a mental note to not pay too much attention to that customer in the future. Men seem to think that when one of the Hooters Girls is friendly to them, it must mean that they’re special. It couldn’t possibly be that, during their orientation, they are told it is their job to look like they’re enjoying themselves and to joke around, play games and entertain their tables (Neri). The management at Hooters makes it clear during interviews and orientation that you must be comfortable with your job and that you are more than welcome to leave at any time, should you have an issue with any of the job requirements.
Not everyone sees the way Hooters Girls are treated as being fair. Feminists do not agree with the Hooters concept and see the hiring of Hooters Girls to be exploitative and demeaning. Feminists argue that Hooters uses female sex appeal for the benefit of men. Girls are put into revealing uniforms and are made to ask questions with sexual undertones such as asking if a customer would like their wings breaded or “naked”, which is the Hooters term for non-breaded. Though this is true, Hooters management teams check in to make sure that the girls are not unhappy with their jobs and that they don’t feel uncomfortable performing their duties as a Hooters Girl. Another issue that feminists have with Hooters is their obvious rejection of anyone who is not conventionally attractive. The Hooters Girl Image Magazine states that the desired appearance of a Hooters Girl is one of an “All-American cheerleader, surfer girl and girl next door” (15). It is said in Battleground: Women, Gender, and Sexuality that feminists believe that “beauty is not a mechanism of nature so much as a political and economic tool to maintain a gender hierarchy of male superiority and female subjugation” (29). Based on that, the problem that feminists have with Hooters and the Hooters Girls is evident. The Hooters Girl, from the outside, seems to represent everything feminists are fighting to stop from happening. They are conventionally attractive, hired to serve mainly men and must wear an outfit that, in most work environments, would be deemed as being inappropriate. While I understand where the arguments of the feminist groups are coming from, I noticed that they are overlooking the fact that the Hooters Girls do their jobs because they want to. Nothing bad would happen to them if they were to decide to leave Hooters. In fact, most of the girls who work at Hooters stay there for a long time, mainly because of the money.
Hooters Girls know that they are using their sex appeal to attract a certain type of clientele. They know that the more they use their sex appeal, the more money they will make and they can use this to take advantage of their customers. A blogger, and Hooters Girl, who goes by the name of KH, believes this, saying:
At the end of the day,…, when I walk out the door with $150 tucked away in my wallet, I can laugh. Those men, with their sexist, classist worldviews have just paid my car payment for the month, and I only had to deal with them for a few hours. Who's being exploited here? (par. 16)
The women who work as Hooters Girls use their sex appeal to their advantage and benefit from the power that they have over men. As long as they feel comfortable with what they’re doing, who is to say it’s wrong?
The goal of any business is to make a profit and it is widely known that sex sells. Hooters doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is using sex to target a certain type of customer. The blogger, KH, that I had previously mentioned describes in the same post how Hooters Girls allow for the chain to charge prices that are unheard of at other restaurants since customers are receiving a unique experience. Where else can you go for wings, beer and pronounced cleavage (par. 16)? Men will pay an arm and a leg just to get some attention from one of the Hooters Girls and if an hour and a half of small talk brings an $80.00 tab and a $35.00 tip, what part of Hooters’ theory about Hooters Girls bringing in more money is wrong?
The employees have the same perspective as KH: if I’m going to make more money serving food in orange hot pants than I would in black dress pants, why shouldn’t I? Hooters Girls make more in tips than a server at another restaurant might make in the same amount of time, with the same number of tables. The average tip at Hooters is about 25% while in other restaurants 15% to 20% is more along the lines of what they see. Hooters Girls also have less side work to do. They don’t have to clean the bathrooms, sweep or mop, or prepare desserts, all of which are required of waitresses at most other restaurants. (KH, par. 1) Hooters Girls do less of the work for more money and, to me, that sounds like a good deal. Obviously, there are going to be people that judge Hooters Girls simply because of their job. Many of the assumptions that people make about Hooters Girls are that they are promiscuous, unintelligent and shallow. Though some Hooters Girls may be one, or two, or even all three of these things, for the most part Hooters Girls are university or college students who may or may not have a boyfriend and who have wider interests than just getting their hair and nails done. Much like any other restaurant staff, Hooters Girls can’t be put in one category. They are not all the same kind of person. Hooters Girls, like the Hooters franchise, are subject to the uneducated assumptions that people make about them.
Though it has faced much criticism and many attempted lawsuits because of the presence of Hooters Girls, Hooters remains a thriving restaurant chain. Hooters has a very competitive edge that has been working for them for over 20 years now and I can’t see them getting rid of this brilliant idea any time soon. Whether you love them or hate them, the Hooters Girls are here to stay.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I was checking out The Hooters Girl's latest post and it was about a new blogger who goes by "S". She is also a server and works in a place called Tilted Kilt. It's really the Scottish version of Hooters. They've got tartan and white knee highs instead of tacky orange and scrunch socks but the concept is basically the same.