The article, written by M. Newton-Francis and G. Young, scholars, specializing in sociology, examines the phenomenon of a Hooters Girl – the image of a sexualized woman used as a brand image by the Hooters restaurant franchise and established as a role model for the waitresses.
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The argument in the article is built on a premise that certain expectations exist regarding the appearance and behavior of females in a heteronormative, sexist context of the modern society. It is implied in this work that an “ideal” image of a feisty, sexually attractive woman with particular features, such as thin waist, big breasts, and long hair, exists in the contemporary culture, and this image is often exploited for the sake of advertising and attracting customers in retail trade.
The authors argue that the image of a Hooters Girl is a cultural product manufactured with the exploitation of real women (Hooters employees) and with the consideration of the cultural (gender) standards and expectations of straight male customers. Being aware of these expectations, the manufacturer internalizes them and reproduces in the image of a Hooters Girl and the rules that regulate the behavior, manner of service, and the uniform of the waitresses (Newton-Francis and Young 2-4). The scholars manage to support their argument with sufficient evidence collected from the former employees of Hooters.
The article does a perfect work to make a reader understand the place of the examined phenomenon in the social context of today. The authors present their sociological perspective, explaining that the phenomenon should be studied with the consideration of the broad concepts of heteronormativity and femininity. M. Newton-Francis and G. Young claim that the unique case, which they are studying, is a manifestation of a global tendency of sexualizing women.
They view gender as a structure and state that no person is free from interactive gender expectations, which exist in their mind. As the authors explain, companies use these omnipresent expectations to ensure that customers are attracted to their brands. All these factors produce an image of a sexualized woman, which is meant to be an object of sexual fantasy for customers. The authors also mention such facets of the production of this image as technology, laws and regulations, organizational structure, and the occupational careers of the sexualized employees.
To my opinion, this article touches an urgent and important social issue, being built on vast and valid evidence at the same time. It is especially necessary to pay attention to such phenomena as the image of a Hooters Girl. In the contemporary society, especially in the field of advertisement and customer service, many examples exists of exploiting prejudices connected with gender and appealing to the carnal instincts of a customer (while implying that “a customer” is a straight male) can be found. Such situations are often discussed in media, where they gain enough attention and criticism. However, it is important to analyze such phenomena in scholarly sociologic literature since it allows to dissect the cultural standards and gender expectations and show the readers how such images are formed, why they appear, and why they are still a workable idea for industry. The authors of the article provide their readers with an opportunity to reflect on these issues.
In conclusion, I agree with the authors that raising awareness about such phenomena in the society presents an opportunity to eliminate gender inequality and stereotypes in future.
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Newton-Francis, Michelle, and Gay Young. “Not Winging It at Hooters: Conventions for Producing a Cultural Object of Sexual Fantasy.” Poetics 52.1 (2015): 1-17. Print.