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Does Hooters Hurt Women?

Cardiff, Wales, is the center of a raging battle over sexism, feminism and the right to wear flesh-toned shiny panty hose. It seems the Hooters chain of delightfully tacky short-shorts-wearing waitresses and wings wants to open a new location in the Welsh town, and feminists are enraged. They say that having a Hooters will “will contribute to sexual harassment of women in the city” and have begun a petition to prevent the chain from opening there.

So far, around 231 have signed a Facebook petition to “Say No to Hooters in Cardiff.” Founder Sally Hughes says, “Hooters brands itself as a sports themed bar, but what it actually is resembles a strip club more closely and has been called a ‘breastaurant’ by the media.” Hughes is part of the Cardiff Feminist Network that believes that a Hooters will increase the overall objectification of women and increase sexual harassment in the city. But a competing petition to “Say HELL YEAH to Hooters in Cardiff” has garnered almost twice as many signatories. The group, which was started by a mix of men and women, argues that “the women who work there will voluntarily go to an interview, they will then voluntarily go to work every day, they will know where they are working and they will be fine with it, or else they will quit.”

And is Hooters really any worse than any other company that requires that its employees look and dress a certain way? Companies like Abercrombie and Fitch and American Apparel have recently come under fire for their strict employee appearance codes that dictate not just what an employee should wear, but also how their eyebrows should be plucked.

What do you think? Is Hooters something feminists should be concerned about? Or is working and patronizing the restaurant, as the pro-Hooters camp argues, simply an individual choice that women make? [Salon]

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