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Parenting and Hooters: An Awkward Combination

I was reading a quick hit by one of our bloggers and I was reminded of a situation that happened to me recently. The quick hit discussed over protective dads and their daughters, while my story is kind of the opposite situation and involves fathers overexposing their sons to sex.

There’s a company I work with from time to time and I was recently included on the mailing list for their weekly newsletter. Of course, a newsletter isn’t uncommon, but realize I work with this company and have never worked in this company, yet this newsletter is obviously meant for internal updates. At least… I hope it’s meant for internal updates, because it definitely changed my perspective as a consumer and left a bitter taste in mouth about the business owner.

The newsletter is usually dry and I give nothing more than a sweeping eye to it. However, one day I made it to the end and actually recognized the signature as that of the CEO. I thought it was really cool to have the head of the organization strive to retain a personable level with the rest of the internal community. I actually started to look forward to reading these emails and getting feel for what exactly the CEO picked up on and what level relationship he had with the people he tries to lead.

I interpreted that he actually kept fairly close tabs on a lot of aspects both internal and external. He would praise his employees on their personal achievements in and outside the community, and would often include a mention to their side projects, encouraging the rest of the staff to visit and support their coworkers. I started to appreciate the CEO more and more until one email arrived that I wasn’t prepared for.

It opened up like any other newsletter, several short summaries of what has, is and will be happening, followed at the end with a short personal update. In this update he included one short sentence and about his son’s birthday: “David turned 11 over the weekend, and we celebrated Saturday by going to Hooters. Lucky boy.” (paraphrased to protect personal identity and relations; emphases personally added).

There was a picture too of a little boy who looked no different from me at that age surrounded by typical Hooters waitresses. I looked at the photo, then the sentence, the photo, sentence, photo, sentence. I was dumbfounded. I don’t usually care about people’s personal dining choices, but because I understood Hooters culture and the implicit messages he concluded his email with, I feel a little uneasy.

Hooters has a complicated past of sexism and perversion, and even though those corporate practices have since ceased, it’s harder to change the consumer expectations and internal culture of an organization. I’d like to give the CEO the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he didn’t realize he was imposing toxic masculinity upon his impressionable son. Maybe he didn’t understand how organizations like that demean women. Maybe he didn’t think the people he tries to lead or work with would feel a uncomfortable being privy to that kind of information. I can’t quite say for certainty, but I am certain I don’t think I can reconcile how I personally feel about him.

What do you think? Have you seen a situation like this?

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