I get emails from public relations companies all the time. Generally for medium to large breweries announcing a new product or event, but there are exceptions to that.
The other day I got a message about a bar opening in Toronto. It doesn't really matter what bar it is, as it raises a concern that exists in a variety of bars. In fact, the problem isn't even black and white, there's definitely a variety of shades of grey. Of course, the company was looking for some coverage, which is a big part of what I do. Normally I would have just sent a quick "No thanks" email to be polite and left it at that, but for some reason, yesterday was different.
I'm not sure if it was because it was my 9th wedding anniversary, and my wife continually impresses me and brings me joy. Possibly it was because I have a daughter now, and I'm thinking about my actions as a man, particularly relating to how they relate to girls and young women who are growing up in a messed up world. Whatever it is, I started typing and the next thing I knew, I had a blog post. So here's what my problem is, and what I wish for in the world (among a lot of other stuff).
Thanks for the note. While I appreciate you taking the time to write me, using women's bodies to sell alcohol is probably the thing I hate most about the broader beer culture in the western world. As this is foundational to [The Bar]'s business plan, I would hardly be able to avoid editorializing on my feelings about this, and I don't think this would be at all helpful to your marketing campaign.
I would say I wish the [The Bar] success, but I don't. I wish they would encourage their servers to dress in a way that is tasteful, and respectful to who they are, rather than how they look. To embrace who they are as individuals, rather than using their sexuality to increase the company's bottom line. I wish their customers would have the confidence to drink in social settings where they are valued, not for how much money they might spend, but rather, for what they add to the interesting mix of folks who inevitably provide the life and "feel" of a great bar. I wish they would have enough faith in themselves to not believe the hype, that drinking brand X at bar Y somehow validates them.
While this might sound preachy (it probably is), know that I feel genuinely bad for both the servers who work at these types of bars, and the customers who drink at them. Because participation in a bar culture can be a healthy wonderful experience, where you can find real validation being who you are, whether you are an attractive young women, or a balding middle aged dude like me.
Again, thank you for thinking of me. Feel free to keep me on your contact list for future announcements regarding beer and related stuff in Toronto.
What are your thoughts? Are using breasts and immodest clothing as a marketing plan acceptable? The servers are hardly being forced to work at these establishments, they choose to do so. The customers must know that the (mainly female) staff are only being to paid to act interested in them (at least they must know it on some level).
If everybody is going in with their heads up, is there a problem? Am I crazy, or an over-sensitive father? I should add, I realize this isn't exactly revolutionary thought. But I've been struck by it a lot recently. I think as a man, I need to be held to a higher standard. It's not OK to actively participate in both the objectification of a woman, and in the simplification of who I am as an individual. We need to demand better of ourselves.