February 2, 2016

Hooters Hypothesis - The Double Standard of Shaming Women | @ SaraFHawkins savingforsomeday.com

Every once in awhile a post will pop up on Facebook by someone who’s irritated by Hooters. The post usually mentions the stupidity of taking kids to the restaurant and goes on to talk about how the female servers are dressed. Always, the conversation turns to what the servers are wearing.

As the first in the genre known as “breastaurants“, Hooters has been around for about 30 years. I remember when they first opened when I was a teen. For over 3 decades female Hooters servers have been wearing the same skimpy outfits of orange short-shorts and a white tank top with the Hooters name on it. Back in the mid 80s it was just something kitschy that few people probably expected to last. It was so “out there” that for about 20 years they really had no competition. Now there are others and it’s not just sports bars, but there are coffee shops and BBQ joints, too.

In my understanding of restaurants you don’t stay in business if you don’t have decent food. That makes me think there’s more to Hooters than what meets the eye. And this is where I get to make a confession. My grandmother, z”li, ate at Hooters several times a month for about 5 years. She had been out shopping and wanted a quick lunch and asked the cashier for a suggestion. The cashier was, in her words, “a nice young man”. I’m sure he was probably in his 20s. At the time my grandma was probably in her early 80s. Maybe he thought it would be funny to send this little old lady to Hooters. Maybe he was being sincere when he recommended the Hooters nearby. Despite whatever he though, off to Hooters my grandma went. And it began a wonderful relationship between an octogenarian Jewish woman and Hooters.

I had the privilege to have lunch with my grandma at “The Hooters”. I also heard about her first visit, the time “these nice businessmen” paid for lunch, the time she took one of her fellow Gold Star Widows members, and the countless times she had “such a lovely waitress”. And not once did my grandma ever say anything about how the servers were dressed. Not once. And this from a woman who was devoutly Jewish and who thought it risqué to wear a sleeveless top without a sweater or blouse over it.

Now it’s 2016 and we’ve spent the last several years talking about not placing blame on rape survivors based on their clothing choice, that what women wear is not an invitation to judge them, that young girls should not be exposed to body-shaming, having conversations about fat-shaming, encouraging body pride, and so on and so forth. Yes, we’ve had the dialogue. And we’ve become outraged that women on the red carpet are asked about their clothing but men are not. Seriously, we’ve talked and talked, and typed, and tweeted, and hashtagged this conversation into the mainstream.

Stick with me, because here comes my Hooters Hypothesis. There’s an exception when it comes to Hooters. And on that I’m finally calling BS. It’s hypocritical and, well, BS, to preach about a woman’s right to choose what she wears without being shamed for it, and then with that same breath degrade the women who work at Hooters. If you don’t want to go there or take your family, then don’t go. But stop with the shaming. I’ve seen your posts, the ones where you’re sighing over the “hunky” server. The one of the “hot” backup dancer. The post of the “amazing looking” bartender. Those. I see them. So does everyone else. So shut up about the women who work at Hooters.

That is, unless you’re willing to talk about how much confidence they must have, how brave they are to work in a place where some (male) patrons have little self-control when it comes to their hands, and what courage looks like to deal with people like you who think it’s perfectly OK to shame them for working an honest job.

Do I want my daughter to aspire to a job at Hooters (or Tilted Kilt, Twin Peaks, or the others?) Not really. Then again, I’m raising her to be a strong, confident, and independent woman so it’s not really my choice.

What I do want is for the shaming to stop. Across the board. Let’s just stop shaming women. It does nothing for the younger generation of girls to see and hear such negativity. It does nothing for the young women who are just trying to make an honest living. And, in general, it give boys and men permission to do the same thing.

Cocktail waitresses in Vegas should be able to wear whatever themed outfit the casino requires without thinking what you’ll say about her. Hooters can require short shorts. Airlines can go back to hot pants and go-go boots for all I care. Seriously, it’s not that difficult to just not patronize places where you feel uncomfortable going with your spouse or kids. And if enough people don’t go then maybe the business will rethink it’s required clothing. Because, honestly, this is probably more of a “you” problem than a “them” problem.

The conversation should not be about what “these women” are wearing. It should be about the fact that people should not be degraded or ridiculed for the clothing they wear. We should all be teaching our kids (boys and girls) to be respectful of (both men and) women regardless of what they are (or are not) wearing. So, just stop with shaming women who work at Hooters thinking it’s OK because they somehow deserve it.

It’s your turn, now. What are your thoughts on this double standard?

Sara

{ 4 comments }

January 18, 2016

Parental Control Alternative For Monitoring Kids Online

FTC Disclosure

As a Gen-Xer my digital footprint didn’t begin until I was well into adulthood. Initially there was a sense of anonymity because we were able to use screen names. Quickly, though, we came to realize that we could be identified. Even in the early days of the internet there were ways to find out who was hiding behind whatever goofy name we chose for our email, bulletin board, instant messenger, and other lame-in-comparison-to-today social networks.

For many of us, though, our kid have grown up around increasingly sophisticated technology. These digital natives have faced concerns that most of us never did.

I grew up in an analog age. The fanciest of technology came about in high school when the Apple IIe came out when I was a freshman. While that was a huge step forward, it really didn’t impact daily life like technology does today. There was no risk of anything I did going too far beyond my little community. That’s not the case today.

Parental controls when I was a teen came in the form of not getting dropped off at a friend’s house, being picked up earlier from a party than my friends, or having to sit with enough distance between us if a boy had come over to do homework together. Ah, good times!

Now, though, parental controls are more invasive than your mom walking in offering milk and cookies when you’re trying to hold hands with that boy who came over to study with you. While we still could make decisions back then, today there is technology that takes the decision-making out of our kids’ control. For most parents it’s like manna from heaven. But what if you’re like me and are not a big fan of parental controls? What are the options? Is it even possible to parent today without enabling some feature on a smartphone or tablet to make sure our kids aren’t exposed to “inappropriate” content or spend too much time online?

When BabyGirl was about 5 or 6 I installed parental control software on the computer she used. It was a desktop computer I had used but replaced. It was her computer for all intents and purposes. I was homeschooling her at the time and she’d spend time online doing schoolwork or playing. That was in 2007 or so. Seems like an eternity ago some times.

Anyway, back then you’d do a search on Google or Yahoo and, like today, pages of results would be presented for you to check out. Search engines were primitive compared to what we use today. Invariably she’d click on something that was inappropriate for a 5 or 6 year old. She’d close the window and come tell me. We’d talk about it, and she’d go on with her day.

There was a big push about that time for monitoring software. I installed some monitoring software and set the parameters. And then every 5 or 10 minutes I’d hear that the computer wasn’t working. Instead of filtering out what would be truly objectionable content, the software had so many keywords it was checking that nearly everything was filtered and nothing would get through. I go in to adjust the setting and make it less sensitive. Still, it wasn’t possible to get to a lot of legitimate content. That’s when I stopped using parental controls.

Fast forward to 2016 and the sophisticated monitoring software and built-in controls on computers, smartphones, tablets, and other types of mobile devices. BabyGirl is officially a teen and I have never used parental controls on any of her smartphones or tablets. Really. I know many people love them and I have friends who’ve written extensively about the benefits of parental controls for TV and mobile devices. For me, I’ve taken a different route since she got her first mobile device.

Talk Openly – Since she was very young, BabyGirl knew that sometimes there would be things on the internet that weren’t for kids to see. Just like in the “real” world, we can’t keep our kids blindfolded until we’ve had the opportunity to evaluate everything they see and hear, we can’t do that on the internet. And while there are filters that will prevent kids from gaining access to truly inappropriate information, for some it’s a false sense of security and doesn’t leave much room for open communication. As uncomfortable as these conversations can be for both of us, it has to be done.

Be Proactive – I’ve always been very up-front with BabyGirl about what she may see on the internet. No, I haven’t been graphic or given her information beyond what I thought she could understand. But I have worked with her one-on-one to learn how to use different search methods, what to look for in URL names and extensions, how to determine if she’s clicking on a reliable source, and things like that. Just like we role play for fire safety, we need to do the same thing when it comes to internet safety.

Follow the Rules – There’s a reason why most social networks have an age requirement. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a law created to protect the privacy of children under 13. Not that all of a sudden at age 13 they gain a magical sense of maturity and capability. Millions of kids under the age of 13 have social media accounts, despite it being a violation of the terms of service. A few years ago my friend Heather wrote about why kids under 13 shouldn’t be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the multitude of social networks available. If we allow our kids to start out their digital life with a lie, it’s hard to expect them not to lie about other things.

Know their Login Information – I’ve been told many times that asking BabyGirl for her login information shows that I don’t trust her and I should just use parental controls if I’m so concerned. I’ve always explained that they’re missing the point. I ask this information because I do trust her, but I don’t trust the people on the other side. Being able to get in to her device and the different programs isn’t about snooping and seeing what she’s talking about. I go in to make sure other people aren’t doing stupid things that whether or not there are parental controls they shouldn’t be doing. It’s also an opportunity to make sure her device is up-to-date, clear out apps she doesn’t use any more, and encourage her to continue to make good choice since her parents can check in at any time. It’s kind of the digital equivalent of mom offering milk and cookies right when you’re thinking of kissing the boy who came over to study with you.

Parental controls aren’t the be-all, end-all magic potion many like to believe they are. They are one tool, but there are “old-school” parental control we can use in addition to using tech-based parental controls or in place of relying on technology to do our job. There isn’t one right answer. As with most things related to parenting, you just have to do what works for you.

Sara

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