Jessica’s Human Ethology Assignment

In order to observe some typical American mating behavior, I chose to sit at Hooters and watch countless advances of creepy old men. Hooters is a very American atmosphere, as it embodies much of our cultural heritage: hot wings, hot girls and cold beer. The inside of any Hooters is not very aesthetically pleasing (it looks to me like a teenage boys dream room, but with tables and chairs), but that’s ok; there are boobs and booties bouncing around in spandex. The food, also, is fair at best, but no one really goes there solely for the food. The majority of patrons are middle-aged men whose wives would most likely kill them in their sleep if they went to a strip club (exaggerated, but true).

I chose a waitress named Lindsey to be my focal individual. She wore the normal Hooters uniform—white Hooters tank top, orange spandex shorts, tan tights, white crew socks and white tennis shoes. She wore her hair in a half-pony-tail and curled the ends. Her makeup reminded me of many porn stars I may or may not have seen. I watched her greet a table of four middle-aged men by nonchalantly scooting into a booth (causing the men to have to shift their bodies to accommodate her) and cross her legs dramatically. She kept her back straight and her shoulders open and made eye contact with every man at the table. During a conversation, the gentlemen each took turns talking, while the waitress turned her whole body towards each speaker (rather than simply turning her head). Much of the laughter coming from both males and female is loud, exaggerated and probably fake.

On my scans around the room, I was very disappointed that there were no creepy old guys trying to hit on young waitresses (I thought that would be fun to witness). Instead, I was confronted with many groups of middle-aged men socializing amongst themselves at tables. A younger crowd gathered at the bar and remained mostly conversational with their immediate neighbors and with the bartender. The bartender spent a whole fifteen minutes wiping down her bar, walking up and down talking with every patron as she cleaned up imaginary spills. One couple I noticed seated themselves at a high-top table and kept to themselves. When the waitress approached, the female sat up straighter and smiled, in imitation of the waitress. Many people stay until the bartender calls last call. Some order one more round, some pay their bills. Everyone leaves with the groups they arrived with.

Hooters is not technically a pick-up spot. It is mostly a place where middle-aged men can gather and be men: drinking beer and fantasizing about hooking up with someone they know will never give them the opportunity. Sex singes the air, yet is not blatantly seen. Waitresses use their sexuality to their advantage, to get more tips, and the men seem to realize this and be content with it.

Author: Johnna Dominguez

Johnna Dominguez earned her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Cultural Studies and Body Politics from the University of Alabama's New College in May 2011. In her senior thesis, Johnna explored the embodiment of identity through sexuality and sports by observing and studying Alabama football fans and participants in the local burlesque troupe, the Pink Box Burlesque. In her Master's thesis, she is investigating the psychological and physical stresses associated with southern women who get tattoos. After completing her Master's in Anthropology, she hopes to return to school for a Master's in Public Health.

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