Stop Sexually Harassing and Body-Shaming Your Bartender (This Means You Too, Ladies)

As a bartender at a neighborhood sports bar and grill, there is nothing sexual about my job.

Jun 11, 2014 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

I’ve been asked how much I cost and told that my tits are huge. A guy said he’d give me a dollar every time I bend over. One gave me the nickname L.G.B.T. (Little Girl, Big Tits). 
 
No, I am not a sex worker or exotic dancer. I don’t work at Hooters or for any other employer that overtly sexualizes its staff. Not that those women should expect to be disrespected. No woman should, regardless of their profession. But as a bartender at a neighborhood sports bar and grill, there is nothing sexual about my job. So, please stop sexually harassing and body-shaming me. 
 
I make drinks. Not sexy. I serve food. Not sexy. I make sure you don’t drive drunk or do anything super stupid/dangerous. Definitely not sexy. I work at a local dive whose patrons are all mostly married men, regulars who have known each other for years and come in to escape their homes/wives/jobs and watch sports. 
 
Sometimes families eat at our place, too. We host weddings and communions. We have a room in the back with a bunch of video games and a quarter ride for little kids. A role-playing game crew who dress up in costume meets there once a month. None of these things are sexy.
 
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There is nothing sexy enough about this to harass. I look like an overgrown child and even have stains on my shirt.

 
I wasn't always harassed and body-shamed on almost a daily basis. After being laid off last year, I went from working as a well-respected local journalist to a full-time bartender. The job market is rough and the cash gives me what I need to get by. However, for some reason (alcohol probably factors in here) bars are a breeding ground for sexual harassment. It’s like a magical place for misogynists and rape culture enthusiasts to have their behavior deemed acceptable and normal.
 
This means that wearing a tank top, even though it’s hot as balls, is an automatic invitation for people to comment on my body. When I get dressed, I must consider that my clothing choice will bring on charming comments such as, “I like your boobs.” I’ve had D cups since I was 12. My mom has big boobs, her mom has big boobs and her mother’s mother had big boobs. Having a sweet rack is in my blood. I know that they are there. I know that they are large and glorious. This, however, does not give bar patrons the right to comment on them.
 
I have a raunchy sense of humor, but I can’t openly express that at work. If I mention anything that could be perceived as sexual, I will be sexually harassed in some sort of way. So, I unfortunately sometimes come off as a prude when I am absolutely not. 
 
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Making any sort of sexual joke on the other side of the bar is ...

 
Some conversations I’ve heard in the bar are truly despicable. A few guys talking about how horrible it would be if Hilary Clinton were president because she is a woman; the 75-year-old talking about his happy ending at a local massage parlor. But some comments really hurt my heart. During the very same week that Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 because of his mentally ill state and hatred for women, one of my bar patrons said that a woman who was on the television screen should be stabbed for wearing a bikini because he (who would be considered “overweight” himself) didn’t think her shape was appropriate for such a bathing suit or his eyeballs. 
 
Hello…I can hear you and I too have a vagina! At least wait for me to walk away. But since I am a woman, nobody appreciates my two cents on political conversations when I am at work. It just gets quiet when I respond to something like that. When I posted about my disgust of this man’s bikini comment on Facebook, one guy responded by saying that maybe he just has a weird sense of humor. No, no and no.
 
For me, the body-shaming is the worst. I had gastric bypass surgery and lost about 100 pounds. I recently gained some weight back after my excess skin removal surgeries. I’m learning to love myself the way I am, so it’s a sensitive topic for me when the line cook calls me fat in Spanish thinking I won’t understand him. Or when the old men tell me I would be stunning if I just lost a few pounds. 
 
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Hi, I’m your neighborhood smiley bartender please don’t body shame or sexually harass me. Yes, I know my bra is showing. I can’t help it, I have big boobs.

 
It’s not only men though. Women do it too, which makes me feel even sadder and more let down. They’ve asked why I’m not wearing makeup. One woman paid me the compliment of telling me that I’m “chubby-pretty.” 
 
The messages that are sent to female bartenders are that we have to be skinny and made- up. We have to act in a sexual nature and be sexy for men. We are not allowed to speak our mind or have opinions, and we should just expect harassment on some level. 
 
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One of my patrons who is the perfect gentleman.

 
One person on Twitter suggested I quit being a bartender. NEVER! I love love love being a bartender. I enjoy serving people, feeding them, listening to their problems and making sure they are happy and having a good time. Most of my customers are awesome and I wouldn’t let a few people who don’t know how to act ruin that.
 
And sure, sometimes I want to punch people in the face. The high road, however, is far more effective and worth the effort. I get the opportunity to make people think about how they want to treat people. Most people just don’t get it and genuinely don’t know any better. When you bring it to their attention in a calm, non-threatening manner ("Hey, when you say that it makes me uncomfortable," or "I am just trying to do my job in peace") they usually realize that they were being rude and feel bad about it. 
 
Sometimes, I think I get through to them. Hopefully it will affect the way they treat bartenders, women and other human beings.