Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Deeper Power and Post-Feminism

When we go out to eat as a family, we want to enjoy both the food and the atmosphere. Some of us may like places that our fun and flashy, while others like quiet places that make conversation easier. However, what most of us probably don’t plan to see when we take our families out to eat are scantily clad food servers.

Here’s a warning for those of you who live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area whom might not want to be surprised. There is a barbecue restaurant in Grapevine called Big Racks BBQ that, along with a stomach full of  “award winning barbecue,” also provides an eye full of the bodies of the young female servers.

Now, you might think this is a sports bar and grill geared primarily toward men, such as Hooters. But what I saw on the Big Racks website that surprised me was the announcement that they have a special where “kids eat free” on the weekends. What? Are there people who actually take their kids to eat at this place? I mean, these girls are wearing tiny tops (if you can call them that) and short denim shorts. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the website, these are not “cute but modest” outfits. They are blatantly sexualizing the wait staff.

After seeing this, I started wondering not only about who would come up with this idea, but also about the women who choose to work here. It seems clear to me that women who choose to work in this type of establishment have bought into the post-feminist view that says that a woman’s greatest power comes from her individual sexuality. If one believes this, then why not objectify yourself and use your body as a means to money? I think this post-feminist view is junk. If a woman views her power as coming from her sexuality, then her power is by definition two things: shallow and fleeting. Power that is shallow is out of one’s control to a certain degree and isn’t built upon by things like integrity. This type of power is fleeting. Looks will fade or have to be supported by plastic surgery.

Ladies, we do not want to build our power on a foundation that is weak. We want our power to be about whom we are in our deepest core, based on our integrity, curiosity, enthusiasm, and energy.  Don’t embrace the lie that your power comes from your physical appearance. Look instead to your deeper self. Be a voice of transformation in the world around you, and don’t believe lies that say your physical appearance is what makes you important.

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2 comments on “Deeper Power and Post-Feminism

  1. Phillip
    August 9, 2010

    Here is a funny story that you will love to hear about!

    Dr. Miller’s school neuropsyc convention this year was held at the embassy suites in Grapevine, in the same parking lot as Big Racks BBQ. Because we only had an hour for lunch, all of the student volunteers decided to go to the closest, within walking distance, restaurant. With no idea what was in store, we opened the doors and like dominos falling one after the other our jaws dropped as we entered and saw what seemed to be a 17 year old hostess in an outfit that covered less than most bikinis.

    As we made our way to our table we continued to share comments in disbelief, almost as a way to ease the uncomfortable feeling that we all felt walking through in our conference attire, needless to say, we were a little over dressed! As we started to give our drink orders a few girls noticed it was quite cold, they politely asked the waitress if we could sit outside on the patio, to our surprise she said no that it was against fire code; the funniest part was when she followed that with a “you think you’re cold, look what I’m wearing”, as if she had no choice in the matter. Still in a little shock we decided to order our food and continued talking. Many of the students had just finished a class called “Cross Cultural” understandably at TWU one of the major topics had been the sexualization of women in our society.

    As a male, listening to my female peers, I began thinking. I was sitting in a restaurant with nearly nude waitresses and I was more interested and captivated by my respectable, educated, and fully clothed female peers who chose to attain my attention through thoughtful conversation rather than their bodies.

    When the waitress came back to the table, I almost had a feeling of insult come over me, why on earth does this waitress or the owner of this business think I want to see that, or that it is even appropriate? It is a restaurant, not a night club.

    The biggest mind boggler was when one of my female peers went to the bar to ask for straws. When she walked up, three middle aged business men felt it was appropriate to comment saying she was a “hot little business lady” and “what brings you here sexy”, as she walked away she said “I’m here for the neuropsyc convention, you wouldn’t understand”. When she got back to the table she told us all what happened and said “I’ve never been hit on by someone older than my dad, I guess I don’t frequent the right places”.

    Needless to say, the experience was more than we bargained for, in less than 45 minutes we were not only given lunch but we were given an experience to last a lifetime.

    That day I learned not only how much I appreciate my peers, but how much I appreciate my family, friends, teachers, and the countless other individuals that taught me to value myself and others for more than outward appearances. That day I made a vow to myself; it is one thing to disagree with places like Big Racks BBQ, but it is another to take action, I vowed to never again support them with my time or money. Since then I have convinced many friends and members of my family to stop going to places like Hooters, Twin Peaks, Bone Daddy’s, and Big Racks. It is a shame that these restaurants feel it is necessary to lure people in with sex rather than good food; it would be like a barber shop advertising free beer rather than good haircuts. Does it really make sense? Shouldn’t we question the quality of their main product if they have to entice us with such extreme distracters?

    • drshew
      August 10, 2010

      Phillip, thanks for sharing that with us! I think that the fact that your colleague was hassled at mid-day is an example of how being in that kind of environment promotes certain attitudes.

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