American restaurant chain Hooters has been given the green light to open two new UK sites, and it’s caused quite a stir with the locals.

The infamous ‘breastaurant’—which trades primarily in chicken wings and revealing uniforms—has been blasted as ‘regressive’ and ‘chauvinistic’ in the wake of two new outposts being approved in Greater Manchester’s Salford Quays and Liverpool.

“The location and nature of the business cause me serious concern,” said Salford Mayor Paul Dennett. “The nature of the business jars with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s gender-based violence strategy, reinforcing archaic and unwelcome attitudes towards women.

“Greater Manchester is home to 1.4 million women and girls and we will continue to champion progress towards gender equality. Hooters would be a regressive step for Salford and Greater Manchester.”

Which begs the question—is Hooters really as regressive as its backlash suggests?

Growing up in the Midwest, my female friends and I visited our local Hooters a number of times. Some of them even went on to work for the company. And to this day, one highly-corporate pal still says it was the best job she’s ever had.

Hooters’ reputation has long been tainted, plainly, on the fact that ‘Hooters Girls’ (the chain’s monikered waitresses) wear short shorts and low-cut tops. A so-called invitation for objectification.

Which is ironic, to an extent, given we’ll see women wearing even less on social media or nights out in the same cities.

To ban or forbid bars and restaurants from existing, based solely on the concept that women’s legs, arms and cleavage will be on show, would leave much of the western world’s city centres empty.

“I have spent years working with teenage lads around sexism and respectful behaviour and what it means to be a man. We have an obligation to speak out when things like this come up. This place makes the girls that work there seem like they are part of the menu. This is something that has no place in 2022,” said Men at Work founder Michael Conroy, as part of an open letter to the Mayors opposing the decision.

“It seems like something from the 1970s, a real throwback to an era we thought had gone. For a city council to consider giving a licence to a place like that sends a message of support for it. Hooters is just not okay.”

The facts, to me, are clear here: it is a woman’s right to work where she pleases, just as it is everyone else’s responsibility not to harass her.

Hooters is not the enemy, and vilifying a woman’s right to choose what she does for work—or with her body—is more regressive than a restaurant could ever be.

In response to the backlash, Rachael Moss—who will manage Hooters in Liverpool— said: “I am a mother with three children, two of which are small girls, and a qualified barrister.

“The Hooters brand is empowering and celebrating beautiful, strong women [sic]. We thrive on making people happy and I am happy to take my children there. I am proud to be part of this venture.”

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