Bristol Misogyny Watch

Bristol Misogyny Watch - it's a bit like Autumnwatch but for misogynist behaviour in the media and at the Council in the Bristol area; anyone or any organisation who should know better in fact.

Yes, it's 2010. Yes, we all hoped that those dinosaur attitudes would have been long gone by now but it seems that they are alive and kicking in Bristol still.

This blog will record incidents of misogyny or sexism or discrimination in the media and at the Council. It's not slander. It's just how it is. Unfortunately.

Please let us know if you spot any misogynist behaviour that you'd like recorded on the blog.

Dinosaur Parade

Dinosaur Parade

Saturday, 4 June 2011

EP commenters are out in force

This morning, the BEP published a story with the titillating headline "Hooters Facing Boob Cake Probe". Here it is. The story itself isn't too bad, as BEP stories go. But of course it attracts the same tired and unhelpful comments that these pieces always do.

One fella (I assume he is male, from his name, DockLobster), posted: "Surely these "feminists" should be looking at other agendas rather than constantly picking on Hooters. What about the abundance of massage parlours on Stokes Croft, prostitution in St Pauls and Easton and strip clubs in the centre? There's more publicity in taking on a cake I see... " 

To which I, as EffOffHeff, boredly answered: "Firstly, I'm unclear why you put the word "feminists" in quote marks. I presume it is because you either think feminists are a made-up construct, or that you wish they were. Maybe you think it's a clever way of portraying your perceived "power" over feminists, by pretending they don't exist (though, if feminists don't exist, why does the BEP delight in regularly printing stories that generate the wealth of comments that they do? Oh right, because these so-say feminists annoy people like you, who enjoy posting misinformed comments that you think make you look smug). Maybe it makes you feel important, and better than them. That's up to you (it's also called 'patriarchy'). Go ahead and misuse punctuation all you like. Plenty of other people on here do it, too. 

"Secondly, the inconsistent reporting of the BEP (by which they only choose the more titillating feminist stories to report on, hence the boring wealth of Hooters stories they print) means that you - and any others who jump at the chance to join in some feminist-bashing, but can't be bothered to do some research of your own, or even engage with the council in your own way in order to gain an informed perspective on what's actually happening in our city - have no idea of the sheer wealth of feminist activity that happens in Bristol. 

"The BEP chooses not to report on the many, many other feminist campaigns in the city they apparently represent - that's their decision. It's not good news reporting, but that's the BEP for you. Having no rival newspaper in Bristol (aside from the WDP, which they also own), the BEP is in the luxurious position of being able to edit the news as they see fit. Sadly, this tactic means that people who only get their news from this one source have an equally narrow-eyed view on what happens in this city, tarnished with the same Daily Mail-inflected brush as the rest of what they print. 

"If I was you, I wouldn't be so quick to criticise others without arming myself with the facts first. I also wouldn't rely on the BEP as my sole source of news. However, presumably you just saw the word "Hooters" in the headline and, like your fellow unhelpful commenters here (and on previous stories) thought "yippee, an ideal chance to talk about something I don't understand and make myself feel powerful for 2 minutes". Good for you. Am sure you'll go far with such an open-minded approach.

I look forward to logging on tomorrow and seeing what nonsense Dock Lobster and friends have posted in the meantime. It's tedious.

No to Hooters - Petition

There's been a huge petition circulating this week, objecting to the breach of licence we believe Hooters in Bristol have made on several counts. In five days we have had more than 900 signatures, including some household names, so please sign and circulate the petition to eveyrone you know.

The petition can be found here.

An open letter to Bristol’s Councillors, MPs and Safeguarding Children Board.

When “Hooters” the breast-themed restaurant applied for a licence to open on Bristol’s historic Harbourside last year in the former "Simply Food" premises they are sub-leasing from Marks and Spencer, they did so under another trading name. This resulted in local residents, businesses and community groups not knowing about the application until the deadline for objections had passed. The Council’s Licensing Committee ruled that they could not at that time hear any objections or take account of the petition signed by over a thousand people, objecting to the proposed licence.

At the licensing hearing the representatives of Hooters made reference repeatedly to the "wholesome" and "family friendly" nature of the establishment, claiming that any entertainment on offer would be derived from televised sporting events and from “wholesome, cheerleader routines” performed by the staff in celebration of occasions such as birthdays (including children’s birthdays).

They also claimed to be “food-led”. These claims were made despite the wealth of freely available information about the overtly sexual nature of the Hooters brand, the signage and merchandise sold in their premises, and the fact that in the USA in the late 90's, Hooters, Inc. told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that their main function is not providing food, rather their executives characterized Hooter's Restaurants as primarily a provider of "vicarious sexual entertainment." But in Bristol, the alleged "family friendliness" of the brand was accepted and the licence was granted in the city's central Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ).

On Wednesday, 11 May 2011, Hooters in Bristol held a widely promoted swimsuit contest in which its (young, female) staff dressed in bikinis to be judged by the customers. This event began at 7pm, two hours before children are excluded. There was no suggestion in their advertising of this event that it was restricted to adults and it is not accepted that any such restriction was in place.

Under the terms of their Licence (condition L13) Hooters are prohibited from providing any “adult entertainment or services, activities, other entertainment or matters ancillary to the use of the premises that may give rise to concern in respect of children. For example (but not exclusively), there shall be no nudity or semi-nudity”.

The licensing authority's definition of "nudity" includes toplessness. Therefore wearing a bikini for the purposes of entertainment is plainly semi-nudity.

Both the swimsuit contest itself and the failure to restrict children from the premises demonstrate a breach of licence.

The day after the swimsuit contest, a child's birthday party was held at Hooters in Bristol. He and his friends were served a pornographic birthday cake representing disembodied and life-like naked breasts, with the nipples fully displayed, decorated with the words “Happy 12th Birthday”, and in the Hooters colours of white and orange. The children were also given high-caffeine drinks and party bags containing sexualised Hooters merchandise.

Any premises licence holder must demonstrate that they are fulfilling the licence objective to protect children from moral, psychological and physical harm. Hooters, while claiming to be "family friendly” is exposing children to sexual entertainment - and not protecting them from harm.

Other licensing objectives that a licence holder must promote are the prevention of public nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder. It is also known that Hooters has been allowing people to drink alcohol outside after 9pm, and that residents have complained about nuisance. Their licence was awarded despite being in a CIZ and it was suggested that Hooters would not attract those wanting to binge drink – but several stag weekend websites are advertising and arranging stag party visits to Hooters in Bristol.

Strong protestations from the local police force, and from many residents of Bristol, were ignored when Hooters was given permission to open. The concerns raised by objectors at the time the licence was granted have proven to be accurate and well-founded. That Hooters has now breached its licensing conditions and is failing to promote the licensing objectives is unacceptable.

We, the undersigned, call for the review of the licence for these premises and ask that the licence is revoked. We object to the brand and practices of this establishment, which normalise the sexual objectification of women, endanger the wellbeing of children, and damage the reputation of Bristol.