February 20, 2016

Sexpresso Cafés: Where Men Can Sexually Harass Women in Peace

Most work places require basic codes of conduct, such as protecting employees from sexual harassment. But then some, like Sexpresso Cafés, accept and facilitate the jeers, leering, name calling, and lewd behavior routinely experienced by their staff.

Sexpresso Cafés are drive-thru coffee stands that employ the marketing tactic of requiring employees to wear pasties, thongs, lingerie, or skimpy bikinis, and are often the site of sexual objectification and harm. Sexual harassment laws were created to ensure no woman, or man, would have to endure verbal or physical abuse in order to keep their job. However, Sexpresso Cafés are turning back the clocks by resorting to the primitive dynamic of treating women as sex objects.

As hyper-sexuality is used for commerce, a new class of women is formed that is no longer protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexpresso Cafés foster an environment where once a woman puts on her “uniform” she is deemed fair game by the men in the drive-thru to be treated in a way they would never treat a coworker in the office.

Being blatantly objectified and verbally hassled is just a part of the job for these baristas.

As reported by Vocativ:

At Southeast Portland’s Hot Bikini Brew, Kylie Dennett, 25, says she’s quickly learned not to put anything past patrons. There are men as old as her grandfather who scream “Nice ass!” at her. There’s a kid who constantly comes by to order milk and stare. And there’s one unwanted customer who drives up to the stand in different-colored cars just to jack off and toss money at the women. “Every time he says he’s sorry and speeds off,” says Dennett.

These cafés exist in a new market place somewhere between strip clubs and Starbucks. While the need for protection from sexual harassment is clearly recognized among mainstream employers, enduring sexual harassment is an on-the-job requirement for the baristas at Sexpresso Cafés.

What’s more, isolated and without meaningful security, Sexpresso Cafés can become easy targets for violence. In 2013, a man wielding a knife robbed Twin Perks Espresso in broad daylight. That same year, a twelve-year-old boy held up a Sexpresso Café, called Hillbilly Hotties, with a revolver. And in 2011, in Lakewood, Washington, three teenagers robbed four of these cafés, and sexually assaulted one barista.

Coffee shops that employ the “bikini business model” not only foster sexism and objectification as acceptable social practices, but they also do so while putting their employees at risk.

The social standard of how women should be treated, and the safety and welfare of the women they employ, both point to one conclusion: Sexpresso Cafés must be shut down.

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

Further Reading