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.