Friday, December 17, 2010

Parenting Artifacts: Hooters

Much like anthropologist Jane Goodall immersed herself into the world of the gorillas, Amanda and I are becoming a part of parent culture. Along the way, like all social scientists, we are discovering the many strange and unique tools specific to this exotic culture. Here is a sample of one of our preliminary findings.

I have never been to a Hooters restaurant.  My assumption has always been that it is a restaurant chain marketed as a more acceptable alternative to the strip clubs their customers would prefer to frequent.  Nudity is replaced with the tight and revealing Hooter’s uniform and lap dances are not on the menu, but I imagine these are small sacrifices for less social stigma, a full menu, and a familiar, friendly Applebees’ like atmosphere.  Plus, patrons can use the frequently heard excuse, "I only go to Hooters because they have the best 'wings'." Translate: wings are to Hooters as articles are to Playboy.

I have recently learned that my assumption about Hooters and their marketing was far from accurate.  Through a Facebook posting of an acquaintance, which included a photograph of her and her embarrassed, preteen son at Hooters, I discovered – to my surprise – that the restaurant actually markets itself as a family dining establishment.  There is a kid’s menu, and several of the restaurants have “Kid’s eat free!” days.  Perfect if you are sexist and cheap.

The Internet is full of photographs and written accounts of family (and school!) outings to Hooters.  My favorite is a blog entry by a father who used a trip to Hooters as a tool to measure his adolescent son’s emerging interest in the opposite sex, and whether or not the time had come for him and his son to have another talk about the birds and bees.  Though I question the appropriateness of using a restaurant whose name is a slang term as the best starting point for sex education (and next you put your wee-wee in her hoo-ha), I do admit there are many interesting discussions the restaurant can stimulate between a parent and child such as: the objectification of women, displays of masculinity, tackiness, and why there isn’t a restaurant named Dicks?


Amanda said...

After reading the blog entry, I find it interesting that the author counters he would take his 10-year old daughter to an establishment with "muscular men in tight shorts." How ridiculous! One, these establishments don't exist because patriarchy (and male boneheaded-ness) has institutionalized objectification of women as a male right and privilege. It doesn't go both ways, at least not equally. Two, he should take his daughter to Hooters. If men oogling over women, is okay for his son to learn it should be okay for his daughter to observe too. How else will she know if men are interested in her? Or perhaps he doesn't her wearing slutty attire. If so, what a hypocrite! At least his son is smart enough to be embarrassed by the outing.

Dan R-M said...

We've talked a lot about when Alten is of the age where he starts watching movies, and how that it going to go. We've come to the conclusion that, whatever movies he watches (especially the Disney ones), we want to be on hand to discuss them with him. The object being to not limit his exposure to the world, but to help him process what he's observing.
The trip to Hooters seems to fit right in. When that dude's kid said "That was messed up", as a father I'd want to know what he was thinking. Was it the whole experience, did he see something I didn't see, or was he just talking with his friend about some school thing?
All the same, for all the talk of Hooters being a healthy form of exposing kids to sexuality, I have to say it seems like a caricature of the "normal" experience of learning to know women. There is an emphasis on physical sexual attributes. Now that I think about it, Hooters seems like something an anthropology department would have come up with to observe certain male behaviors in a controlled environment...