About Last Night
Firstly a bit more on New Look; thank you so much to everyone who has been reading, retweeting the blogs, contacting NL and joining the Facebook group. So far I don’t believe New Look have responded to anyone, but the more we keep the issue in their faces, the better!
So, last night after a lovely dinner and cocktails my friend and I decided to head to The Piccadilly Institute for some dancing. I know, it’s not the classiest of establishments but they have Tanqueray behind the bar, a light up dance-floor and play The Spice Girls; I don’t have many more needs in a nightclub.
The problem is that I have taken the Feminist Red Pill and now find it really hard not to see the patriarchy everywhere. So maybe I should shrug off the Gentleman’s Corner of the cocktail menu in the Slug and Lettuce, I don’t really like whiskey based drinks anyway. And of course there was street harassment, it was Saturday night in the West End; it’s not right, of course, but it was inevitable really.
Maybe through my cloud of cocktails and laughter I could let it all wash over me. I probably would have done, if I hadn’t started talking to the lovely ladies who work behind the bar at The Piccadilly Institute…
I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, it has lots of different rooms, each with its own theme and music; there’s a party room, an R&B one, another R&B one, one that just seems to be noise and probably some that I’ve missed which also play R&B. Behind each bar works a team of very attractive ladies in themed outfits. The ones that I saw for certain were sexy nurses, Geri Halliwell-esque Union Jack dresses or basques and tutus. Meanwhile the men wear either medical scrubs (no idea) or I Y PI t-shirts. So I asked several of the female employees if they had a choice about what they wore and was told a variety of “yes, but they are all revealing” or “not really”.
So I asked, “you do realise that’s discrimination don’t you?” and guess what, they did, they all knew that their employer was discriminating against them and they also felt pretty much powerless to do/say anything; not if they wanted to keep their jobs. One even said, “discrimination pays well”… Wow! I know discrimination happens frequently in workplaces across the country, but how often is it that blatant do you think?
Now I will fight for anyone’s right to wear whatever he or she wants to wear, as long as it is absolutely what he or she is choosing to wear. If a group of girls chooses to go out on a Saturday night in basques and tutus, well fair play to you ladies. Back when I thought I might be Courtney Love I used to wear baby doll dresses, silver DM’s and a necklace that said “slut”. All of which was very much my choice and I thought I looked amazing.
But I didn’t get the sense that any of the ladies working last night would have chosen to wear those outfits if they had an alternative that was less revealing – especially in a building packed with drunken harassers. They are at work and working behind a bar is tough and hot and messy, no one wants to do it while worrying that their breasts might spill out of their basque do they?
There is no argument that I can find for the necessity of the outfits, these are women who (I imagine) look stunning in cat-hair covered sweat pants and a t-shirt blotched with hair dye; well better than I look right now anyway. Are the managers of The Piccadilly Institute by any chance suggesting that their female bar teams are part of the aesthetics of the club? Could it be that they put their employees in purposefully sexy outfits to titillate and excite their guests? Does that sounds a little bit like objectification?
Seriously, there is no need to do this. All you are doing is creating an environment where you are legitimising harassment by choosing outfits that scream “look how sexy our team is”. Those women are employed to make drinks, give good customer service and ensure your guests have a good time. They are not there to provide wank-bank fodder for the stag does and birthday boys.
Here’s my BBC style “helpline” sign off… If you have been effected by any of the issues raised in today’s blog, please contact me and I’ll do what I can to help (I know a thing or two about employment law).
Oh and if you enjoy my little feminist rants, come follow me on Twitter @seja75 where I am currently enraged by sexism in sporting adverts amongst other things.