A member of a Dad Blogger group I belong to posted a photo of his 12-year-old son beaming alongside 5 Hooters waitresses this weekend. The tone of the comment that went with the picture was one of bravado and pride in his son becoming a man.
The first few comments on the board were congratulatory until I asked “I wonder what the dads of daughters have to say?”
Then the debate started. Actually, the debate started again. This was given a good runaround back in 2009 when Bob Elston, blogger at The Rain Racer, posted a picture of his 11 yr old with a Hooters waitress after a football game. 4 yrs later, we gave it the runaround again.
Is Hooters a family restaurant? Is it objectifying and demeaning to women? Is it an appropriate place for kids? Should you take pictures of your kids with scantily clad waitresses? Is it a rite of passage? Is this any different than tweens swooning for Bieber or 1D?
The group is a proactive one that really tries to change the perception of dads and men in media. We rally against the “dad is a doofus” default that appears so regularly in commercials, so it seemed odd to me that this portrayal of women would be cheered. A dad taking a pic of his 12 yr old with 5 Hooters waitresses seemed to underline the “men are meatheads” messaging instead of changing the channel.
Others defended the picture by saying the girls are there of their own free will. True enough, but I’m still disappointed this self-objectification is considered perfectly acceptable.
Where we commodify men with athletic prowess in sport, we commodify women based on their ability to fill out a tank top. I don’t fully understand how looking good is a qualification for a resume, yet thousands of girls will get through college with jobs based on looks. Just look at the lines at trade shows where random a attendee gets a picture with a random hot chick. It is disappointing that guys ogle, and it is disappointing that women know guys ogle and hang it all out as a means of easy money.
Last week, the Internet was abuzz about a Mom “body-shaming” teen girls and their lascivious selfies while parading around her shirtless sons. Am I a ‘body shamer’ for thinking tween boys at Hooters is a little offside?
“I’ve had countless encounters with boys and girls of all ages while working at Hooters, and Bob’s son reacted as expected. Most boys under the age of 13 are shy, awkward, and usually embarrassed to even look at me, let alone talk to me,” she wrote. “More often than not, kids hardly even notice I am there. So does Hooters send a negative message to kids? Maybe, but that’s why they have parents to teach them the right messages, and that’s really what this is all about.”
The guy in the group is a great Dad. He took time out from our debate to head to his son’s school for a teacher interview. His son is succeeding at school, and they have a great relationship. Does that make it okay, or make him an outlier? Just as there are fathers who will use this as a ‘teachable moment,’ there are dads who will encourage their sons to ogle and objectify.
He notes there was a table next to them with young daughters digging in to deep fried pickles and wings.
So where do you stand? Would you take your tween son/daughter to Hooters?