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The late, dubiously sane radical feminist Andrea Dworkin has had amazing success brainwashing people who've almost certainly never heard of her. Check out this LA Times story by Sam Verhovek (about the Seattle Times story) about "sexpresso" stands in Seattle, where "scantily clad" girls are the baristas.

Most of the baristas say that they are paid at or just above minimum wage — but that they can also make as much as $200 in tips during a seven-hour shift.

At Tully's, a decidedly more mainstream chain of coffee shops in Seattle, barista Alex Torres, 17, said he was lucky if he got a $10 share on his shift from the plastic tips box.

Still, Torres said, he was glad not to work at a sexpresso stand.

"It just doesn't seem right, selling coffee in a bikini," said Torres, a sophomore at Seattle's Ballard High School. "It seems degrading to the women."

And while the money is good for the racy-themed baristas, plenty of other people agree with Torres that it is exploitative and demeaning.

Sorry, but why is it "degrading" or "exploitative and demeaning" to work in a bikini? To have people appreciate your body? Especially when they're appreciating it to the tune of $200 in tips? It's such a dumb, victim'y point of view.

Hey, Alex Torres: If hot guys were doing it...would it still be "degrading"?

Posted by aalkon at February 5, 2007 9:34 AM


If you haven't yet, you really need to rent Idiocracy.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 5, 2007 5:07 AM

Amy, Amy, Amy.

You poor dear, you just don't understand. For centuries, women have been forced to use their boobs to succeed. Feminism means that boobs don't matter any more. So any woman that is using her boobs to her advantage is ipso facto being degraded, even if she doesn't know it.

Actually, what Alex is saying is "I'm jealous that I don't get those kinds of tips because I don't have boobs."

Someone really ought to tell him that boys and girls are different for a reason.

Vive la boobies!

Posted by: brian at February 5, 2007 5:23 AM

I think the beef that some feminists have with bikini espresso stands is that they might like to work in an environment where women don't have to expose their bodies. Not everyone wishes to wear a bikini in public, or on the job, nor should employers generally require that of their female employees in non-sexually oriented businesses.

Yes, that Alex is certainly jealous. But put the shoe on the other foot. Next time I hear a woman complain that she can't advance on the corporate ladder or in a law firm or any other male-dominated industry, I'll tell her that's just the free market, and she's just jealous because she doesn't have a penis.

It's an example of sexuality creeping into every aspect of American life. As a guy, I appreciate an attractive woman, but I don't see the need for this. What's next? Bikini accountants? Bikini advice columnists? And what happens when espresso girl turns 30 and the boss decides she's too saggy to serve coffee/prepare taxes/write columns?

And yes, if hot guys were doing it, and we lived in a society where men were expected to show skin to please women bosses and customers in every industry, yeah, that would be pretty disgusting. I like to think I'm a valuable employee at my company for my knowledge and skills, not for whether I look good shirtless.

In the long run, the coffee stands are probably not a big deal. But on principle, it's off-putting.

Posted by: beansworth at February 5, 2007 7:11 AM

If hot guys were doing it...would it still be "degrading"?

I don't know, but I would certainly drink more coffee.

Posted by: Darry at February 5, 2007 7:15 AM

beansworth -

Isn't this oversexualized society precisely what the feminists and other assorted hippie types wanted? The complete separation of sex from commitment?

Hell, the feminists (if they aren't, and they won't) were consistent they'd be championing the bikini bar as the ultimate in female liberation. The utilization of sex for self-actualization in a non-threatening role!

As to your penis comment - it isn't the penis that made Bill Gates rich. But it IS the boobs that keep Jenna Jameson's cat ass-deep in friskies.

Posted by: brian at February 5, 2007 7:42 AM

malformed sentence: should be:

Hell, the feminists (if they aren't, but they won't) championing this already, they'd be pointing to the bikini bar as...

that'll teach me to post without coffee.


Posted by: brian at February 5, 2007 7:45 AM

Were they suiddenly required to come to work in bikini or did they take the job knowing they were to work at a bikini coffee bar? If they chose this job, they knew what they were doing. The difference between accountants and baristas as far as age and education are pretty obvious. I certainly wouldn't want to see my tax lady in a bikini, but if somebody did and she wanted to do it, sure. There's a reason why half naked girls make the big bucks: the rest of us aren't and usually don't want to be nearly nude at work. They get the money cause they're willing to do it. Supply and demand and all that. I thought feminism was about freedom of choice for women. This smells an awful like judgment in an 'I know what's best for you' package.

Posted by: christina at February 5, 2007 8:33 AM

If you don't want to see girls in bikinis serve your coffee, get it somewhere else. It's that simple!

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at February 5, 2007 8:47 AM

I recently read a Joe Sharkey column in the NYT about looking hot enough not to be left behind. A woman nearly missed her plane, I think, in Australia, but the pilot saw her and stopped, pulled back to the gate, and let her on. I use whatever I have. Expose your way to first class? I'm all for it. A push-up bra becomes a push-in bra!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 5, 2007 9:19 AM

Years ago when I lived in Florida, hotdog stands with bikini clad servers were common along roadsides. The biggest problem with them was that they were a traffic hazard. (Guys not keeping their eyes on the road)

There was also a topless check cashing store, and a topless donut shop when I lived there.

Posted by: winston at February 5, 2007 9:23 AM

Isn't it possible to disagree with someone without doubting their sanity?

Posted by: mike at February 6, 2007 7:20 AM

Serving coffee in a bikini and getting seriously paid for it is demeaning? Since when? When I think of demeaning or degrading work, I think of working in a sewer, digging ditches (with a shovel), or other dirty back-breaking work. These bikini-baristas get to be comfortable, earn some easy money, and go home not covered in filth. Not bad for someone that, for all I know, may have the marketable skills to get paid the same amount elsewhere.

That's the trouble with people committed to "causes," they are always looking for something to gripe about. If things were as good as they could be, they's have nothing to do. So they make issues where there aren't any. Maybe Alex Torres should be asked if she'd rather flip burgers at minimum wage, be a garbage collector (makes much better money than a burger flipper), or serve coffee in a bikini. Then see her put her money where her mouth is for a month.

Posted by: Jamie at February 6, 2007 8:04 AM

Isn't it possible to disagree with someone without doubting their sanity?

You find Andrea Dworkin's thinking sane and rational? Should I question your sanity, or just your judgment?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 6, 2007 8:21 AM

Wow. I tried to be civil and explain a different point of view. I don't think I attacked anyone personally. I never even said I agree with Andrea Dworkin. Now there's all this talk of people being insane and lacking judgement, because they disagree.

And Alex Torres, according to the article is a man. He CAN'T work at a bikini coffee shop. He CAN'T make $200/hour in tips. He's essentially being discriminated against for being a man. If that kind of discrimination can be justified by public taste, then discrimination against women, or any group of people, can be justified according to public taste. If a law firm thinks that clients prefer white lawyers, can they use that to justify hiring all white lawyers? If an auto shop owner thinks his customers won't trust a lady mechanic, can he say "women need not apply"? Obviously, that would be illegal, offensive and bad business.

brian: Hippies and feminists are two completely different groups. The majority of hippies were completely uninterested in womens' rights. The "free love" was, for the most part, about getting laid, not about sexual power for women. The only power for women they advocated was the power to make themselves available to men as sex objects, but nothing more. Some people call that feminism. I don't.

Feminists of the 60's and 70's were altogether a different gang. I had thought part of the goal of feminism was to be able to work in any job they want without being ogled or treated as a sex object. Obviously, if you're going to be a stripper, you know that comes along with the job. But it would be pretty galling to be told you don't qualify to serve coffee because you're only an A-cup.

Posted by: beansworth at February 6, 2007 9:24 AM

Again, I'm saying bikini-coffee shops are not a big deal, but I don't believe in ridiculing people who find them distasteful.

Posted by: beansworth at February 6, 2007 9:30 AM

Maybe he can't work at the bikini coffee bar, but I can't work at a male strip club either. This isn't discrimination, it's a business oppoertunity that hasn't yet been capitalized on. If there were a male shirtless coffee bar (and there should be) he could work there and a woman couldn't. If you want to work at a place that earns you money based on your physical attributes, you can't cry discrimination when you don't possess any. I'm sure, beansworth, that you're exaggerating to illustrate your point and here's the other side: is it discrimination to not be hired as a fitness model if you're fat and ugly, or just not perfect? Is it discrimination that you can't be a dancer if you've only got one leg? How about not being allowed to direct air traffic if you're blind? The point of the coffee bar is not coffee, it's girls in bikinis. I can't see calling this discrimination, and in fact I think that when people 'cry wolf' so to speak about these sort of things they are really undermining the concept of equality. We aren't the same and the goal isn't to be treated exactly the same in every situation. Its to prevent real and seriously harmful discrimination.

Posted by: christina at February 7, 2007 9:16 AM

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