How to Fix Hooters

“going to a subpar beer & wings restaurant to leer at/take pics with big-boobed waitresses is one of the most uniquely baby-boomer male concepts and I am laughing my ass off at the idea that it’s some sort of sacred cultural institution that millennials are shitting all over”

I saw this post on twitter, and it got me thinking: how WOULD I change Hooters to make it more appealing to millennials like myself, who are more interested in engaging in conversations than in ogling women or using them as un-asked for therapists?

Rather than the simpler question of “what kind of restaurant should Hooters be?” I’m addressing the question of “what kind of business would be worth my time and money?”

Clarification Note: Main things to clarify first based on feedback: 

  • waitresses/bartenders should NOT have to be people’s low-wage/free therapists (that’s the opposite of the point I was trying -poorly- to make).
  • everyone should be paid a living wage equivalent to their work and skillset. 
  • Hooters should have more body-inclusive hiring practices. I never meant to imply Hooters should ONLY hire the women I personally find attractive, and I have altered the original body-negative phrasing of that part, where I was attempting to express frustration with some very pervasive, myopic, and harmful social expectations regarding women’s appearances, rather than trying to insult those women who fall into different categories. 
  • Geisha means “hostess trained in conversation, singing, dance.” If I could edit the initial tweets, I’d use the existing term “host club/hostess bar” which better describes the idea, as I had no intention to imply prostitution or coercion.
  • To me the word ‘venting’ implies a mutual discussion of perspectives regarding some party’s personal struggles they need outside perspectives on, where all parties are interested and willing participants, a two-way communication/discussion. At least that’s how venting works in my life. There was never any intention to imply harassment/lecturing/cat-calling/yelling at women. Again, the goal was to REDUCE that extant problem by providing healthy, stigma-free alternatives in a positive social environment.


I’ve taken what started as four or five tweets and added lengthy, excruciating clarity to ensure that every thought I have is in the actual text, rather than assuming those thoughts are implied. On the internet I’ve learned it is essential to leave NOTHING unsaid, so I apologize for the huge post, but it apparently needs to be huge. I also apologize to the people who reasonably perceived values in the post that do not reflect my own values or positions, due to my omission of some important bits that now exist here, or that may be due to using body-negative language I’ve since corrected.

For me to be excited about visiting a restaurant like Hooters, there would need to be changes. We’ll start at small, incremental “slightly less horrible” changes, and scale the resolution up to a more fundamental re-thinking of the environment.

Things I’d Think Would be Cool Changes or Improvements

What changes are Hooters LIKELY to make? Are we talking about women’s looks? Okay, fine. Hooters seems to prioritize a few specific body types. I mean, it’s called HOOTERS. They have a right to do this of course, and there’s nothing innately wrong with anyone’s natural body type, of course, but if you’re trying to draw me to a restaurant based on the novelty of attractiveness alone, hire women with more varied body types. Even if Hooters did this, which would probably be their go-to solution rather than addressing bigger needs (Hooters CEO: “we need to fix our business to get millennials? okay! what shape of boobs do they like?” smh).. So as step one,

here’s the thing: Ideally Hooters wouldn’t be focused on female attractiveness at all, but in lieu of that more progressive change, it would be nice if they hired women who didn’t only fit a single very specific body type. The goal, if making a statement about “the ideal female form” is for some reason required for people to enjoy a meal (it’s not, but we’re still talking about Hooters), then the statement should evolve to be more body-positive, to say, “we hire women of all body/ bust/ hair types, because there’s someone for everyone.” (Again, we’re working within the frame of current Hooters branding rather than addressing any potential problematic or sexist/misogynistic issues with the core of that idea itself, which we could address at a higher resolution.) So considering all that, the next step: if we really want to be body-positive and egalitarian, in addition to hiring plus-sized women and petite women, we should also hire trans women and even men. This is a difficult sell that may not be reasonable considering the whole branding of the restaurant implies simply giant woman boobs, but it’s worth considering.

Conversation is Better Than Ogling, imo

But this is the real issue that I doubt Hooters execs would give much thought: I’m not a huge fan of going places just to look at women. I try to be sex-positive, and if that’s what you like, no prob. But for me,  I wouldn’t be there to LOOK at you, but to TALK with you, whether it is with people working there or other patrons. A place to eat and chat with good conversationalists, male or female? Sign me up. Perhaps a visit could consist of phases, the eating phase, the chatting phase, etc. A time for people to chill out and chat would slow down the fast pace of American restaurant eating habits.

So, if Hooters still wants the “pretty woman” marketing angle, then it could be a place to have conversations and discussions with smart/pretty women (again, if appearances still NEED to be a part of Hooter’s identity at all) while eating food. It’d be nice to see male Hooters equivalents offer similar environments. Check out “host clubs” and “hostess bars,” which are popular in Asian countries and which give an idea of the kind of interaction I’m talking about.

There could be “debate/discussion nights” where wings are free or something.  Anything to facilitate social interaction in a way that everyone involved is comfortable with. And to clarify, the goal is to cultivate discussion, and not just at/with women, but to create a general atmosphere of discussing new ideas with employees and other patrons. I love ideas and hearing other perspectives. That’s the goal. There could be activities rooms where people play pool or video games. So the major overhaul would be fundamentally shifting Hooters from an objectifying novelty place into a conduit for social interaction and enhancing social relationships. The more of those we have, the better.

As far as hostess roles, I think I’m thinking of hostess bars or geisha restaurants, which I’ll look into more to see if they fit. Clarification Note: I looked up the term geisha before using it. Geishas are not the same as prostitutes, and that implication was NEVER my intention. They are hostesses trained in conversation, singing, and dancing. There should be male as well as female ones, people who have specifically chosen to work in that context and are paid appropriately. I want to interact with lots of people all the time and get new perspectives, and to me, a good meal is a great time to do that, whether it’s talking or listening with men, women, or beyond. And to be clear, regarding conversation I’m not talking about yelling at or catcalling waiters/waitresses, who are already busy doing very stressful work. I’m talking about a fundamental role/paradigm shift that would entail new employee roles rather than simply adding further stress to existing roles.

A Whole Section About How I Used the Word “Geisha” Since It’s Needed for Clarity:

Again for clarity, before using the word geisha I googled it to ensure it was NOT a prostitute, which was never my intention to imply. “a Japanese hostess trained to entertain men with conversation, dance, and song.” Considering the confusion this generated, if I could change the tweet to say “host/hostess bar” I would, as that more accurately represents the idea – MINUS any actual sexual acts. I never intended to imply prostitution or any form of coercion or dominant/submissive relationship. I’m trying to make it EXTRA clear here that it would be for men, women, and beyond, as a kind of community center/social club/with wings kind of experience.

..And a Section About My Position on Prostitution, Since It’s Needed for Clarity

Since some people thought I was encouraging “waitress prostitutes” by using the term geisha, and I’ve clarified I was NOT trying to encourage prostitution in this context, now I have to make my views clear on prostitution. I don’t think prostitution is innately “immoral” or “shameful”, or “sick”. Though I wouldn’t go to a prostitute myself, I am a sex-positive intersectional feminist who believes prostitution should be legalized, taxed, regulated, and dignified as a service, and am convinced that would go a long way toward curtailing a lot of the abuse sex workers suffer in the current black market system– not because access to sex would “make men less violent” but because there would be more readily-available legal means for abused sex workers to pursue justice and recourse should something terrible happen, and THAT empowerment, that threat of consequences for abusers, may reduce abuse. The goal is to protect and dignify sex workers, whatever policies that entails. I know prostitution is not technically the focus of this post, but there was enough lack of clarity that it’s worthy clarifying.

Other Issues That Need Addressing in These Potential Environments to Reduce Misery of Employees:

Thinking of other potential extant issues that need solving, it bothers me how drunk people often vent their problems onto waiters and bartenders.

(Clarification Note:  It’s possible using the word “vent” gave a bad impression – I meant calm discussion and reflection and asking the listener for advice, but “vent” perhaps gives people the impression of yelling or harassing. The goal was never to create “punching bags.” Not at all.)

Therapy and Support Groups Roles/Areas

People can be obnoxious to waitresses, especially if they’ve been drinking. So it would be nice to have some specialized setup for the people who just want to therapeutically vent their woes to other people who have signed up to do that, rather than onto random people unasked for. There is still a lot of stigma regarding therapy and rehab in our society, and the goal would be to make these things more familiar, normal, and interwoven, even if it means we hire a actual psychiatrists to have offices in these new social clubs we’re creating.

Perhaps even some kind of support group area. It’s personally not my thing to vent my problems to semi-strangers, but I imagine it’s not the thing of most waiters who have to deal with this, either.  We could refer to this new role as specialized “problem listener hostesses/hosts”. And by cultivating a stigma-free environment for this, we could reduce the chance that people in need of venting their feelings just dump their problems onto each and every man/woman they encounter, and we could further cultivate more stigma-free, social ways for people to get help they need, even if it’s minor. Everyone deserves someone to talk to, and we just need to ensure the “targets” of that attention are people who are qualified, have signed up for it, and are paid according to their skill set.

I’m trying to think of the mental health of the waiters and bartenders here and make their lives less miserable. The real goal and solution to this, I think, includes a universal healthcare system including mental healthcare, but until we have that — and even after, every effort should be made to make people aware that they shouldn’t dump their problems onto random people, AND to provide outlets for people who really NEED to. A common critique of this is “we already have therapists and rehab,” and as soon as those are taxpayer-funded and free at the point of delivery, that’ll be great, but they are currently cost-prohibitive for many. These issues are highly skilled work that need adequate compensation, which may make this whole idea fall apart because….

Wait… This is All Supposed to be to Attract Millennial Business? Well, that’s a Problem Because…

…and somehow Hooters would need to be SUPER CHEAP since us millennials are BROKE. I think of current Hooters as some exotic, unique luxury experience, like going to a magician restaurant. But then again I think of Applebee’s as a fancy, high-class restaurant, too. (This should tell you how broke I am.) One of my dreams in life is to be rich enough to eat Fiesta Lime Chicken for three meals a day at Applebee’s. I think about it all the time. I’d invite friends and interesting people and have conversations. I’d probably get sick of it after like four days, but it’s important to have goals in life.

A Laborious Explanation of the Previous Paragraph Since Apparently It’s Necessary

This is being a bit glib, pointing to the extant problem that SO MANY things are too expensive to millennials, but it’s important to be clear that this is a joke about millennial economics, and doesn’t intend to de-value the work of the waiters or waitresses, or hosts/hostesses. I happen to think normal waiters, for example, should always be paid at LEAST minimum wage, and also that the minimum wage needs to go up. Specialized “problem listener hosts/hostesses” would obviously be paid much more. If the minimum wage had kept up with worker productivity and inflation since the 1980s, for example, it would currently be between 18 and 22 dollars according to most economists.

Through that glib, exasperated note about prices, I am trying to point out how low-wage jobs are currently, unfortunately, devalued, and that we should do something about it to address the larger social issues regarding wages in the US, especially as they pertain to serious economic issues like college debt, the opioid crisis, a lack of healthcare in the US, etc.

If you think some of these silly suggestions are unrealistic given the current framing of Hooters the Restaurant. That’s kinda the point. It may be the case that a place like Hooters could never realistically be a place people like me are interested in since these are the changes that would be required. It MAY be a Venn diagram with no overlapping circles. Perhaps instead of reforming Hooters, we can just create new awesome environments.

Someone else suggested just adding actual owls into the restaurant, and this would also be an awesome addition.

Conclusion

So for me as a millennial to be excited about Hooters it would need to be a fundamentally different experience that, instead of relying on a superficial novelty, instead cultivates meaningful human interactions in a world increasingly isolated by consumerist convenience and technology. We cannot have too many of these places.

It would be a new kind of place that addresses modern (rather than sexist baby boomer) concerns- – a fusion of social hangout, restaurant, stigma-free rehab and therapy venue that fosters communal bonds. If this needs to be some new kind of place that is taxpayer-funded, I’ll gladly chip in. At that point you might say “but at that point, it’s not even Hooters anymore.” And that’s kind of the point, too.

To be very specific and clear, my main problem with Hooters is that it encourages a very superficial branding that may propagate damaging attitudes about sex, and that it would be great to instead create more places to have more thoughtful and meaningful interactions among people. I’m not saying my way is the “correct” way, just that it’s closer to what I would personally want from social environments.

Rather than the simpler question of “what kind of restaurant should Hooters be?” I’m addressing the question of “what kind of business would be worth my time and money?”

So that’s the end.

other stuff I’ve created:
2014 filmmaking kickstarter project (satire)
my main web site (will return soon when I’m not broke)

Once this is refined more and has received more feedback, I’ll throw it onto the pile of “maybe I’ll make a youtube video about this sometime” ideas, and the video would be a (more) final draft. Everything is iterative, getting closer and clearer to the messages I actually intend to convey.

It may seem weird to say after all this…. but I don’t really care much about Hooters. I’m not sure that I’ve ever even been inside a Hooters; as I’ve made pretty clear, the current branding doesn’t really appeal to me. I just do a LOT of thinking, and this was one of the things worth exploring on 8-20-2018. There are other WAY more cool ideas to explore, and my goal is to eventually do that in youtube form. This blog is really just a place for me to privately dump my rough draft ideas, until it became a necessary avenue to add clarity to some random tweets about random thoughts on a random issue. People sometimes make the error of thinking “oh, you took the time to write about this, so you clearly care a LOT about it.” That’s true of many things I write, but I write ALL the time about every thought I have in a constant effort to refine my ideas into forms that may be useful to the world or to others who share similar experiences.

I don’t think I’m particularly special here. I wish everyone had a blog. I believe that everyone has a valuable perspective to share, and that we can increase understanding and foster discussion by being willing to present our ideas, as long as we are willing to also listen and learn and grow from the perspectives of others. That’s kind of the over-arching goal with everything I do, and I hope that comes through here. Anyway, have a nice day.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s