But when SHe opened its doors on New Year’s Eve 2012, all that talk of empowerment boiled down to smaller, “she-sized” steak portions, mirrors on the dessert menus so women could reapply their lipstick, and “sexy” décor. And let’s not forget SHe’s main attraction, a catwalk where women in scanty clothing perform for the restaurant’s female and male guests.
SHe isn’t the only restaurant that has drawn criticism for invoking gender stereotypes under the guise of being “female friendly.” The international steakhouse chain STK received backlash after posting a female-friendly promotional video that featured sexist images of stilletoed women feeding each other steak. A pink sports bar in New York’s Union Square hit every feminist’s nerve when owner Ken Sturm told DNAinfo, “We did a softer design [because] we wanted to make it very inviting for women so that they don’t feel like they’re sitting a men’s kind of club.”
Last year, when The Bachelorette’s Chris Bukowski opened the Bracket Room, a female-friendly sports bar in Arlington, Virginia, Washington City Paper reporter Jessica Sidman chided the bar and other similar restaurants, writing, “[S]mall plates and sexy décor? If this is what these restaurants believe women want, their target audience should be insulted.”