Wings, Thighs, Breasts: It’s Hooters’ World, We Just Die In It
‘So,’ she asked with suspicion as she handed me the check, ‘do you like coming to Hooters?’
‘I, um, haven’t been to one in, I guess, about ten years.’
She sighed and walked over to the other side of the bar, and I realized it had actually been closer to 20 years, when my dad flew me down to Florida for my cousin’s wedding. He picked me up at the Tampa airport and from there we went to meet my Uncle Eddie and his new wife Paulette for lunch. Her daughter was waitressing at Hooters and she could get us a discount. It may have even been the Clearwater location, the original Hooters. Clearwater, for what it’s worth, is also where you can find the Church of Scientology headquarters.
I don’t remember Paulette’s daughter’s name, but I do remember how uncomfortable I felt watching the men in my family flirt with the waitresses—except for Paulette’s daughter of course. That would have been rude.
And given that I’d just flown in from Boston, from art school in Boston no less, and was still disoriented from changing planes and eating too many Krispy Kreme donuts back in Charlotte, Hooters was tacky to such a degree that it felt almost psychedelic. Their beige nylons, puffy socks, orange jogging shorts, and casual sexism have all become iconic parts of the culture, but back in 1999 I’d never heard of it. The experience was awful.
So if I’d been answering that bartender’s question honestly, then no, I guess I didn’t like coming to Hooters. Although by that point, the question had an unspoken subtext: If you didn’t come here for the scenery, then why the fuck did you come?
Well, I came to Hooters after a nearly 20-year absence because my wife’s aunt had given me a $25 gift card last xmas. Melissa was already apologizing before I’d even opened the envelope, explaining that this was the only gift card they had left at the Rite-Aid. And while I don’t want to underestimate the good people of Elizabethton, Tennessee, I have a hard time believing they bought up all the gift cards for Best Buy and Barnes & Noble and left the ones for Hooters. Not that I don’t think they enjoy reasonably-priced home appliances and books, I just think they love Hooters (and hooters) more. Either way, I’m thinking there’s a story here that Melissa isn’t telling me.
I mean there’s a Hooters just one town over in Johnson City.
But $25 will buy you a decent lunch and an indecent amount of beer, and so I felt I had a duty, an obligation, to return to Hooters.
From where I live in Athens, Ga, the closest Hooters is a little over an hour away in Buford, where it sits next to The Mall of Georgia, a 200+ store monstrosity that also houses the nearest IMAX theatre and has three fewer military recruiting stations than our mall back in Athens. The MofG’s parking lot is dominated by these endless megalithic speed bumps that make you fear for your tiny hatchback’s suspension, curved & sprawling much like Gwinnett County, the exurban Atlanta community where it resides. The county was named for Button Gwinnett, a statue of whom reportedly stands atop The MofG’s roof. In addition to his status as a mall icon, Button was also the first Georgian to sign the US Declaration of Independence, only to be killed in a duel the following year after a failed invasion of East Florida. So I guess his legacy of misguided hubris makes him a fitting representative for both The MofG as well as the county that bears his name.
The MofG is the kind of place that makes you want to ask questions—of yourself, of society, but especially of the mall. So I figured since The MofG probably pays someone to answer people’s questions I should put them to work—job security in our dwindling economy, and no economy more dwindling than malls.
Hi there. Writing an article about spending a couple of hours in the Hooters location on your property and had a few questions about The Mall of Georgia. I’d be grateful if you could take the time to answer them for me.
1) How does a mall get to be The Mall of Georgia? Does it have to be approved through the state legislature?
2) I’m assuming there can only be one Mall of Georgia, but could there be a Mall of South Georgia? Or a Mall of Extreme Northeastern Georgia?
3) What makes The Mall of Georgia different, or more Georgia-eque, than other malls in Georgia? Lenox Mall in Atlanta is every bit as large, and due to its location within the capital’s city limits, might make a stronger case to be The Mall of Georgia.
4) So I’m guessing Buford has one of the best school systems in the state? For a town of 12,000 people, this is one hell of a tax base.
What publication is the article for, as well as when is your deadline? Also, what is the primary angle for the story? It seems to be real estate-related?
Any additional insight would be great!
Chelsea Bohannon – BRAVE Public Relations
“Bravery never goes out of fashion.” -William Makepeace Thackeray
To which I wrote back:
Thanks for getting back to me. The article is for literary website The Fanzine, and the primary angle is that Hooters is pretty fucking weird. So maybe it’s more surreal-estate related? Anyway, like your hero William Makepeace Thackeray once said, ‘Despair is perfectly compatible with a good dinner.’ Hope this answers your questions!
No response yet from Ms. Bohannon. Maybe the profanity bothered her (no idea why it’s called ‘adult’ language when most adults get uncomfortable & offended when you use it), but I bet even Chelsea thinks Hooters is weird. Because in the popular imagination, Hooters occupies, at best, a similar space as Showgirls, Mama’s Family, and Professional Boxing: a tacky oversexed atrocity from the past that’s best left there. Yet Hooters continues to expand, with new locations opening all over the world: Aruba, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Russia. Last year Hooters announced that it is planning to open more than 30 restaurants in Southeast Asia over the next six years.
In fact, the location here at The MofG just opened last November.
I get there just before the lunch rush and take a seat at the bar.
Hooters has changed a lot since the late 90s. They apparently did a big redesign a few years ago, adding more windows & tvs and adjusting the uniforms so they’re a little more subdued. The nylons are darker, less garish, than they used to be. And while the orange is still that same thick nacho cheese color—specifically the layer of plastic-looking film that forms on top of nacho cheese when it hasn’t been stirred in a while—it’s less prevalent than it used to be. The tanktops & shorts are now a kind of charcoal color and the only orange is the company name on the front and the slogan ‘Hooters Makes You Happy’ on the back. And I’ve never been so glad to see a singular verb in my life, because if it had said ‘Hooters Make You Happy,’ I might have thrown up.
But the defining image of Hooters—the Hooter Girls (their phrase, not mine)—hasn’t changed at all. Even as gender relations in our culture/society transform ever so slowly towards being, uh, mildly less exploitative (or as Fox News would call it: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS RUN AMOK!!!), the Hooter Girls still wear a uniform of skimpy clothes and non-skimpy amounts of makeup. They are friendly and buoyant and perky to a degree that would embarrass a puppy.
Here’s the Hooter Girl Origin Story from their very own website:
‘The first Hooters Girl, Lynne Austin, was hired on a bet. One fine day in sunny Florida, one of the Hooters Six anchored his boat off Clearwater Beach to swim in and catch the Jose Cuervo bikini contest. That would be Droste, who bet the gang on the boat that he could entice the winner of the contest to become the first Hooters Girl. He bravely paddled into shore. After failing to convince the subsequent winner (L.A.) to join the troop right then and there, Droste dug a business card out of a rolled up plastic bag (a wet card would have been be tacky) [sic]. He told her that if her job as a GTE telephone operator didn’t work out, she should call them. Weeks later, Lynne tried to get off work at GTE to attend yet another bikini contest. She quit the job when they refused. The next day, she called Ed to join the Hooters team. The Hooters Girl was already evolving in the face of another phenomenon: Ed’s beautiful secretary, Loretta, an avid jogger, spotted several times in shorts. Finding Lynne only accentuated their resolve to follow this “girl in jogging shorts” idea.’
Here’s the very first Hooters commercial, starring that same Lynne Austin. Can she come out now?
Watching that clip, it’s probably no surprise that Hooters has a long history of lawsuits from employees & aspiring employees. You can click the link for more details, but let’s just say that if you want to wait tables at Hooters, it’s a bad idea to get pregnant, or get fat, or be a man. Eventually the Hooters legal team figured out that if they called their employees ‘entertainers’ instead of ‘servers’ they’d be legally protected from excluding men from FOH positions, and so that’s what they do. Your Hooters Girl isn’t a waitress, she’s an entertainer.
I see a waitress (I have no legal reason not to call them what they are) sitting next to a guy at the bar and like the naive schlub I can be sometimes, I think that’s nice her boyfriend came to visit her at work. Until I see another waitress sitting next to a guy at a table, and then another, and I realize that this is just part of the service. Which strikes me as, um, a little gross.
Seeing most of the guys at the bar check their cellphones every 30 seconds, I decide to take my laptop out (wireless connection: ‘hootwifi,’ no password) and start taking notes, ALT-TAB-bing over to Twitter whenever someone walks by so I can both avoid detection and read up on the fallout from last night’s shooting in Dallas.
I’m the only guy at the bar not wearing a polo shirt.
After checking my ID, the very pretty, very friendly bartender calls me by my first name, and continues to call me by my first name–‘Here’s your food, Scott. Another beer, Scott?’–for most of my time there, until strangely she stops doing it. She asks if I want a Bud Light, but I go for Yuengling. She asks small or large and after I tell her large she returns with a glass the size of an 8-lacehole Doc Marten.
The black rubber bar mats have Jagermeister printed on then in Hooter-orange and even that feels somehow prurient & unclean.
A Hooters employee handbook surfaced a while back that included the sentence: ‘I hereby acknowledge…the work environment is one in which joking and innuendo based on female sex appeal is commonplace.’ So by not doing this—and I’ve already decided that I’m going to try to always look the Hooter Girl in the eye and be respectful as possible—I’m singling myself out as ‘not commonplace.’ And I’m pretty sure my demeanor—combined with my laptop, non-polo shirt, and rejection of Bud Light—singled me out as a weirdo before I even opened my mouth. So no wonder no waitresses ever comes over and sits next to me, leans toward me, places her hands mere inches from mine…
Which in some ways is a relief. I have a feeling a conversation would only make things weirder. Oh, your name’s Mariana? Like the Pixies song “Wave of Mutilation”? You know that one? Or: Mariana? Like the trench in the Atlantic Ocean? The fact is I have no idea what to say that wouldn’t be disrespectful. Even innocuous phrases like: It sure is hot out. Or Man, those speed bumps out there are huge sound ridiculous. And I realize, not for the first time in my life, that pretty much anything I say is going to have the opposite effect of what I’m trying to communicate.
So I decide it’s probably best for everyone if I just shut the fuck up and eat. The menu features all the worst parts of American food. There’s coronary inducers like Bacon Wrapped Wings, Big Dipper Chili Cheese Fries (served with something called ‘chipotle cream sauce’), Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla (with ranch or bleu cheese dip), as well as foods w/sexy names like Naked Wings (b/c there’s no breading) and Chicken Breast Strips (since the description includes the word ‘plump’ I’m going to assume the name’s a double entendre). And among the appetizers (called Hooterstizers, no shit) is something called Beer Cheese & Pretzels. That isn’t missing a comma; BC&P is ‘a creamy blend of cheese infused with stout beer and served with salted Bavarian pretzels.’ No idea if you have to be 21 to eat them.
Or what they taste like. Me, I get the Western BBQ burger, which for some reason—and unlike every other Western BBQ-type burger I’ve ever ordered or the picture in the menu—arrives w/the onion rings stacked on top of the burger. The fries are tough & chewy, but then anyone who comes here for the food deserves to suffer.
So Hooters wasn’t kidding about adding more TVs. They’re everywhere, to the point where, unless your peripheral vision has been damaged, you can’t avoid seeing one. All of them have the sound off and all of them broadcast the full range of sports satellite channels: three ESPNS, two FOX SPORTS, MLB, NFL, NBA, GOLF CHANNEL, etc. Above the far end of the bar, someone’s lashed together an assemblage of 9 bigscreen tvs—3 horizontal & 3 vertical—to form an enormous Voltron-esque screen which on account of each screen’s border has a giant tic-tac-toe board laid over it. The whole thing is easily 20ft across and dominates the room, but one lonely average-sized tv way off in the corner is broadcasting CNBC and I can see the anchors waiting for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to address a press conference. Given what’s happened over the last couple of days, I assume it’s either a statement about the Dallas shooting or it’s about the two men killed by police on video earlier this week. Eventually, the AG arrives and the scroll along the bottom reads ‘BREAKING NEWS: LYNCH DEEPLY GRATEFUL FOR WHAT POLICE DO,’ and the lack of nuance in the headline fills me w/an anger that’s completely inappropriate to my surroundings along w/a despair that’s starting to feel entirely appropriate.
There’s a UFC fight up on the big screen—an old one I assume, unless UFC schedules their fights at high noon or something—that looks like two survivors of childhood abuse attempting to get revenge against long-absent stepfathers or priests by misguidedly beating the shit out of each other. First they’re covered in sweat; then they’re covered in blood. So when an instant replay shows a fighter making solid contact the screen lights up a bright pinkish-red color which reflects brightly off the shiny surfaces of the restaurant & the bar and makes it look like fireworks are going off. The fight cuts to a commercial for Navage Nose Cleaner, basically a neti pot that pulls instead of pushes, and the lady in the commercial shoves the NNC so far into her nostrils that my sinuses scream. I look away and see that the Wimbledon semi-final is being broadcast live on one of the smaller tvs and figure the average Hooter Patron would rather watch UFC reruns than live tennis.
The piped-in music is exclusively white and with the exception of a song each by Fleetwood Mac and No Doubt, exclusively male. Mostly Blind Melon, Kings of Leon, the Eagles. Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride” comes on, a song that I unabashedly love, and while I know EWG member Dan Hartman wrote the song, and that Hartman was a gay man who spent his entire life in the closet until he eventually died of AIDS in the late 80s, I’m guessing the curators of the Hooters soundtrack did not. Because this might be the most heteronormative room I’ve ever been in, an environment where the concept of an LGBTQ universe doesn’t even exist. Not that it’s been deliberately excluded, just that it never occurred to anyone that it’s a possibility. Which makes me wonder if lesbians ever come to Hooters to check out the waitresses and what that might look like if they did.
Nearly every customer here is male, sitting in packs of one or two, but there’s a few who aren’t, most notably a white girl in dreads sitting at a table with her immaculately dressed grandparents. I wonder what they’re doing here; if they’re enjoying themselves (no entertainers ever sit down at their table). Maybe they’re from another country—The MofG gets its share of foreign tourist dollars whenever there’s a favorable exchange rate.
Two girls walk in, late teens/early 20s, and take a table, but they turn out to be friends with one of the waitresses. There’s also a teenage girl sitting with two men, a slightly older guy who’s either her boyfriend or her brother, and a much older guy who’s either her father, his father, or both. The girl looks miserable and bored, with low-hanging eyes and slumped shoulders, an elbow on the table propping up the lower half of her face. The bartender pays her a respectful distance until they leave.
Breasts are called ‘hooters’ (and so Hooters is called Hooters) because a well-endowed female chest with large dark rings around the nipples bears some resemblance to the face of an owl with large, staring eyes (the Hooters sign features an owl w/it’s eyes doubling as the double O’s in the restaurant’s name). The term dates to 1972, but made its way into general usage in the the late 70’s after Steve Martin used it in a SNL monologue. Here’s the same joke in a later routine, one that demonstrates the limitation of irony, or at least the limitation of irony when done in an overly simplistic ‘I don’t mean what I say’ manner:
Funny thing, it turns out that an intense attraction to women’s breasts isn’t based in anything biological. It’s a social construction, and way more prevalent in the US than nearly any other country because the fetish is rooted in their concealment and US society keeps breasts covered more than other place. In fact, Breast Fetishization is so rooted in the old psychological ‘want what you can’t see’ that if a male with the fetish finds a long-term partner it almost always disappears. Even though the male will still continue to engage in what one researcher terms ‘breast play,’ it doesn’t have the increased out-of-proportion erotic thrill that it used to have.
So it seems that, like war & bad stand-up comedy, Breast Fetishization is something men do in large part because they’re afraid of women, and they eroticize the body parts different from their own as a swerve away from that fear. They take what in reality are just fatty mounds of flesh that produce milk to feed our offspring and transform them, eroticizing the utility right out of them until women’s breasts no longer exist to nourish children, but solely for the pleasure of men. And that’s the real Hooter, and Hooter Girl, origin story.
After a second beer, it’s time to settle up, and I get to have yet one more awkward conversation with my bartender, this time about using the remaining gift card balance as a tip—which comes out to around 20%. The conversation isn’t helped by the fact that I’m now drunk enough that I have to work in order to e-nun-c-i-ate clearly.
‘So you’d have $4.23 left over. Is that okay?’
‘Yeah. That sounds good. I mean, I’m going to…I’m still going to throw in a couple extra dollars too.’ Of course it turns out I only have a $1 and a $5 in my wallet and so I end up debating which is worse—the $5 seems creepily extravagant (though later online research shows that tipping even 100% on a Hooters check happens more often than you’d think), but leaving a single dollar seems like it might be insulting.
I leave $1. Fuck it.
I’d thought coming here would be hilarious, but all it’s done is made me sad—for me, for the waitresses, for the men who come here, for all the sicknesses in our society. Like the music of Pearl Jam, or Led Zeppelin (both on the Hooters soundtrack), it’s impossible to enjoy Hooters ironically, or just laugh at the absurdity. Hooters turns out to embody the worst parts of America—violent sports, casual sexism rooted in the desire/fear of unrealistically beautiful women, and flavorless death posing as food.
And maybe I shouldn’t make too much of this. There are probably more people eating lunch right now in the Mellow Mushroom up the road, and it’d be ridiculous to think that it indicates anything about how America feels about hippie culture. And aesthetically at least, Hooters isn’t much more revolting than the poster I saw in Dunkin Donuts the other day that urged me to ‘Wake up to the sweet taste of maple.’
But there’s something different about Hooters that occupies a larger space in our consciousness. You don’t find sexy Harry Potter fan fiction where Ginny works at Mellow Mushroom, or fanfic where Sonic the Hedgehog and his pal Tails go to Dunkin Donuts.
I ended up spending nearly two hours there, or the length of a Hollywood action movie with artistic pretensions, and as I left I stumbled across the parking lot through thick 95+ degree Georgia heat intensified by all the endless black asphalt & the manmade absence of shade towards The Mall. And as I sat in the Food Court drinking my coffee and sobering up for the drive home, I struggled to process everything.
I need to be clear: I’m not some naive bumpkin about all this stuff. I grew up in a redneck part of inland Southern California where objectifying and insulting women was considered a form of courtship. In 1990’s El Cajon, calling a woman a ‘dumb bitch’ (half-jokingly, of course) and telling her what you liked & didn’t like about her body—that was just how you let her know you were interested. Anything less and you risked becoming her very good friend (an embarrassing no-no in SoCal guy culture).
And as someone who grew up pale, skinny, acned, poor, and underconfident amidst the rampant materialism, both physical & economic, of Southern California, let’s just say that I had a lot of very good female friends and at times was extremely resentful and ashamed of my virginity and the attendant physical loneliness that came with it. For a teenage boy–to say nothing of a boy in his early 20s–there was nothing more embarrassing than being a virgin, esp. in a culture where it seems like everyone else around you is having sex.
I navigated my way out of most of these hangups and have worked hard to become a better person—helped along by women with vast amounts of knowledge & patience—but even if I didn’t stare at the Hooter Girls’ cleavage or spend my time there mentally undressing them, I was still checking them out from across the room. Maybe that’s hypocritical—is covert ogling any more ethical or unseemly than overt?—I don’t know. Maybe my family shouldn’t have watched Porky’s and other teen-sex comedies while I was in the room (from age 10-13 I slept on my aunt’s living room couch where the family tv was). That, and access to late night cable tv, gave me some, uh, less than enlightened ideas about how male-female relationships worked. Although to be fair, I was also exposed to higher-quality tv like St. Elsewhere, Saturday Night Live, and Cagney & Lacey that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Whatever the reasons, sitting here in The MofG Food Court, I realize that objectifying women is a hard habit to break. Because I’m still doing it—still checking out women, girls, sometimes young girls, girls who are possibly too young, the same way I was looking at the waitresses. It’s not lascivious; it’s still from a distance. But it’s definitely sexualized, this observation. I mean their hair isn’t the first thing I notice. And it disturbs me. Because there’s a huge difference—the Hooter Girls invite, or at the very least expect, me to check them out. These women at the mall do not.
Or let’s say 995 out of 1000 don’t. Because of course all human beings have a sex drive. We desire others and desire to be desired. And there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to someone, or wanting others to be attracted to us, but it is possible to connect with someone and not make those other 995 feel awful and insulted and preyed upon. The easiest way to do that, of course, is to interact with a woman like she’s an actual person instead of a sex doll that might fulfill your stupid teenage sex fantasies if you ‘play your cards right’ like they’re some kind of video game challenge, but I understand the fear that keeps some people from doing that. I really do.
Eventually I readjust back into a reality where most women find the male gaze, if not always repellent, than at least a pain in the ass to navigate through while doing their shopping. But this is where Hooters stops being harmless, or even a little bit fun, because they’re not even pretending, through self-reflexive irony or campiness, to be about anything other than the objectification of women. That’s what they’re selling. And based on the food I just ate, you can say that’s all that they’re selling. Come for the objectification, stay for the objectification.
Google ‘pregnant hooters waitress’ and you’ll find dozens of complaints on message boards from guys whose Hooter Girl had a bun in the oven and how it was, in one case, a ‘boner crusher.’ Google ‘pregnant applebees waitress’ and below the google reprimand for not using an apostrophe all you find is a post from a guy who left a $35 tip for their Applebee’s waitress because she was pregnant. Men who don’t get to ogle, or fantasize, about their Hooter Girl feel cheated, like they were ripped off, in a way they don’t when their Applebee’s waitress is pregnant.
A ‘hooters’ search on a free porn upload site brings back over a hundred videos featuring women wearing the Hooters uniform (not necessarily employees—you can buy one for $25 on ebay and it’s available as a halloween costume) engaged in various sex acts. A ‘mcdonalds’ search brings back plenty of people fucking in McDonald’s bathrooms, but no one getting it on in a McDonald’s uniform. There is a fantasy Hooters creates that other restaurants do not—a need to desire their waitresses, a Hooters fetish.
The point being that Hooters not only owes its existence to the objectification of women, it perpetuates it. It amplifies it in a way that creates a weird feedback loop where Hooters puts this shit out into the world, and then the world puts their own shit back into Hooters. Or more simply, because Hooters services our culture’s fetishization of hooters, the culture adds a Hooters fetish to its hooters fetish.
Which I suppose is a solid business model, but it adds a sinister quality to Hooters that goes beyond mere sexism. Because when you see women as objects you aren’t seeing them as people. And as any close observation of human behavior will tell you, whenever you don’t see a person as a human being—and this is compounded when this is applied to large groups of people—as a fellow traveler through this sickly revolving world of beauty and pus, then you’re capable of performing all kinds of inhuman acts on these people. You don’t rape a woman who is unconscious unless you see her as an object. You don’t molest your stepdaughter, or murder your ex-wife, or stalk the girl who wouldn’t go out with you, unless you see them first & foremost as objects for your own pleasure. And those things happen. They happen all the time. And while Hooters doesn’t endorse any of those things, they sure as hell reinforce—and cutely validate—the parts of our culture that makes those things endemic.
So fuck Hooters then, right? Shut it down. Let’s take to the streets. Shame them out of business. Shame. Shame.
Unsurprisingly, you find a lot more criticism/shaming in our culture of the Hooter Girls than the men who employ the Hooter Girls, or the men who throw money at them—and not just from men either. A lot of Hooter Girl hate comes from women—which is strange in the sense that the Hooter Girls are literally the only people in the organization not deserving of our total contempt (you can make a case that the male patrons deserve some sympathy as unwitting inheritors of all these masculine signifiers they feel they have to perform but that requires some next-level empathy skills and at least another 3000 words). People can argue that the Hooter Girls are traitors to the feminist cause, that they’re nothing more than uncle toms/house bitches to their patriarchal masters, but they’re missing the point. The Hooter Girls didn’t create the patriarchy, and they aren’t in a position to bring it down. If they have to live in a society that more often than not reduces them to tits & ass, what’s wrong with them making as much money out of it as they can? Is the Hooter Girl supposed to quit?
Or another way: One young woman sees our society for the patriarchal hellhole that it is and decides to study it when she goes off to college, and eventually turns this knowledge into a career teaching women’s studies. Another sees things just as clearly, but having fewer options, becomes a waitress at Hooters. What should she have done instead? Go work at Chili’s? Or Arby’s? Until we live under a system of true equality—one that provides living wages even for shit jobs, one that values the dignity of labor, and one where women can expect to be treated as people first—it seems selfish & cruel to ask women towards the bottom of the economic ladder to sacrifice their income so other people, particularly those towards the top of the economic ladder, can feel better about society. Would this world be a better place without Hooters? Overwhelmingly likely. Would it be different in any way, would it be any closer to positive change? Overwhelmingly un.
The Hooter Girls may work for an inherently sexist & disgusting company, but unlike the men who eat there, the waitresses aren’t living in a fantasy world, Their actions may not be ‘woke,’ but their minds most definitely are. And in that sense they are all potential revolutionaries in waiting and are deserving of our respect.
Don’t work to cure the symptom. Cure the disease. Places like Hooters will cease to exist when we live in a world where nobody wants to go there. And for all my cynicism & occasional snark, I think that we’re closer to that world now than we were 20 years ago, and far closer than we were 50 years ago.
But the next time I get a gift card for a shitty restaurant I’m just going to eat someplace less problematic, like maybe Chick-Fil-A. Because even after all this, I still can’t help feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface of Hooters and all that it represents about the worst parts of ourselves.