The decline of Hooters is not some sort of feminist victory. For women, almost all wait staff jobs come with a degree of unsolicited sexual attention and the expectation of affective care-giving. It has become standard for servers everywhere to introduce themselves with a version of “My name is X and I’ll be taking care of you this evening.” The modern service economy means that millions of us have to earn our living by waiting on other people. Sometimes the best of the unpleasant, dead-end options is the one that will compensate you the most for your trouble.
In singling out places like Hooters, we aren’t rejecting this larger system, only the businesses which make its true nature explicit. We can disavow the most cartoonishly sexist version of capitalism, but we will still be left with capitalism, minus the cleavage and hot pants. Just as Gloria Steinem’s takeaway from her stint as a Bunny at the Playboy Club was that “all women are bunnies,” the truth is that most working millennial women, whether or not our jobs involve skimpy uniforms, represent members of an exploited, disposable underclass.