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Jan 27 2007

XXXeattle’s Best

It seems inconceivable, in this golden epoch when no reality exists for man except the limitless gratification of his sexual perversions, that there should persist, like a nagging dose of syphilis, little unpornulated pockets of the daily humdrum that afford little or no opportunity for titillation. Of course there are only three of them, but persist they do. Schlumping a load of greyish wet underwear into the dryer is one. Getting stitches in your eye is another. And of course the heaviest weight of libido-crushing unsexiness known to plague civilization’s dominant class — the dreary three minutes’ privation between the ordering of a coffee at a drive-thru and the picking up of the coffee at the drive-thru window — is a boner-wilting void made interminable by a vexing paucity of cleavage, lap dances and hottie sex-talk.

O happy day! The Seattle Times reports that the coffee-queue drought is over for those hubba-bubbas lucky enough to live within jizzin distance of the Great Northwest. Classy dudes who simply can’t make it to the strip club without a little tent-pitching pick-me-up can now wheel through any number of “commuter coffee stops” featuring “bodacious baristas, flirty service and ever more-revealing outfits.” One sterling representative of his species knows his rights: “If I’m going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, I’m not going to get served by a guy.”

Sometimes the commuter coffee stops host “theme days”. Guess what the themes are! That’s right! “Schoolgirl” or the highly original “adding glasses for a sexy ‘secretary’ look.” Now that’s bodacious!

If the expression of hatred mixed with ennui that contorts the countenances of many of the world’s baristas is any indication, making with the me-so-horny routine — on top of eking it out in a servile Mcjob requiring one to wear makeup and “do” one’s hair — is bound to lift the flagging spirits! Not just of baristas and their bodaciosity-starved customers, but of all mankind! Is there anything that porn can’t fix?

[Gracias, Kashina]

48 comments

3 pings

  1. Aggie

    I’m glad you posted about this. I live in Seattle and read the article in the Seattle Times a few days ago. It infuriated me on so many levels. (Especially the asshat who feels that his whopping four bucks somehow entitles him to leer at the tits of service providers.) But the thing that really got to me is the business owners insistence that they “have” to sex up the women to be “competitive” because everyone else is doing it. Everyone is else is NOT doing it, and if you don’t have the imagination to figure other ways to make your business competitive, you deserve to fail.
    I worked as a barista for years and it’s hard enough to deal with male customers feeling entitled to treat you like their own little porn fantasy when you’re in a polo shirt and apron. This just reinforces the idea that when you’re a a woman serving customers for minimun wage and crappy tips, you have to sacrifice any sense of bodily integrity, too.

    Not to mention the small fact that lots of women actually have their own money now! Some of them even have cars and drives to jobs! And, gee whiz, I bet they’d like to buy coffee too. But apparently, these espresso stands don’t give a rats ass about women’s money. Their loss.

  2. That Girl

    Thanks for making my day, as usual.

    They better be prepared to pay extra to these women because I know if I have a choice between two jobs that pay the same but one you need hair and makeup Im taking the low-maintenance one.

  3. TP

    Yeah I’ll have a large white-male-privilege with that shake.

  4. john patrick

    I live in Seattle, and first I have to say that I’m as disgusted as everyone else here is.

    Second, and I know this doesn’t mean anything to most of you all, but none of the businesses listed in the article are actually in the city Seattle. They are either in the suburbs or farther.

    Finally, given the number of places in the Greater Puget Sound area to get espresso, you must realize that these sex-bot cafes represent less than a fraction of percentage of a drop in a bucket dumped in a double ocean of steam-expressed goodness.

    That said, let me emphasize how disgusted I am with this gimmick. And though I usually blame the White People, I would like to say that in this case, I enthusiastically blame the patriarchy.

  5. mearl

    I was a Playboy bunny….

  6. Joolya

    On the drive between Pittsburgh and State College, PA there’s a classy little joint called Climax One which has a drive thru strip show.

    But you don’t get coffee.

    [swear words]

  7. smelly

    OT, but seriously. Drive through coffee? Is there nothing Americans can’t purchase while sitting in a car?

    Given the gay/straight and male/female ratio at my local Starbucks clone, at least 50% of the customers will not be impressed. I bet this particular marketing ploy fails pretty quickly. Not soon enough, but still.

  8. kcb

    This business plan sounds like it’s lifted straight from “Idiocracy,” which features a dystopian future full of morons and Starbucks that sell handjobs along with the coffee.

  9. CafeSiren

    So, the guy gets 60 seconds staring through a drive-through window at a scantily-clad girl (I use the word “girl” advisedly, as the article points out that many of these baristas are high school students). And this is the highlight of the poor guy’s morning — something that he’ll go out of his way for, and probably flash back on for the rest of the day. 60 seconds.

    This is unutterably sad, and reinforces what I’ve long believed: that the porn culture is destructive to men as well as to women.

  10. Sean M

    Sweet cheeba-cheeba! As though working in retail wasn’t punishment enough, now you have the opportunity to be pornified into the bargain?

    I’m gonna need a bigger bucket.

  11. goblinbee

    When I read about this a couple days ago I thought, “Twisty will have something brilliant, cutting, and hilarious to say.” I’m glad you wrote that something down; you did not disappoint! If I could think these brilliant and cutting thoughts myself, I would. Mine come out more like, “!#%@! aaarghhh! !#%@!”

    –g

  12. kate

    Says a barista: “Your customers freakin’ adore you. Everybody’s excited to see you,” Law said. “You spend a few minutes with them and they leave.”

    As if adulation for one’s sex appeal is the pinnacle of one’s day. She could graduate to prostitution, where its said by its proponents that a few minutes is all you have to spend with a customer who adores you as well. I am always amazed at how women will put themselves out so close to danger — all to be able to make enough tips to augment a minimum wage.

    One of my daughters considered a job as a bar-maid and I was absolutely against it and she finally looked to other opportunities. That a parent would allow their high school daughter to sell coffee in a baby doll makes me sicker than sick.

  13. smmo

    I’m hanging my Seattlite head in shame. That some of the baristas are minors is horrifying and if it isn’t illegal it should be.

    The tone of the article is disgstingly “wee! isn’t this FUN and EMPOWERFUL!” while the sole objection is made by some stodgy gift shop owner. Gosh, it is almost as if the media wants to ignore feminism.

  14. ChapstickAddict

    I read about this on Feministing (and I was anxiously awaiting your inevitable post here), so the initial shock of this has worn off enough for me to say this: I love what you just wrote. I was reading this to my boyfriend, and it was like my tongue was having an orgasm.

    I can’t imagine the harassment these girls have to put up with for a few extra bucks. Not to mention the burns from working around such a hot machine in their skivvies.

  15. Amaz0n

    “If I’m going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, I’m not going to get served by a guy.”

    Stated, no doubt, in the same voice one might use to say “If I’m going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, I’m not going to get served by a boring, ordinary human being. I’m going to get served by a dancing monkey or a robot.”

  16. CostumeGoddess

    I don’t remember who first pointed me to your site, but I’vebeen reading for a while now. I working my way through the archives, also, which provide me with all sorts of anger for my day. Thanks!

    As a barrista for the Evil Empire that is Starbucks, I can give my official “Fuck No!” to that idea. Patriarchical ick issues aside, there’s no power on this earth that could make me wear crap like that while heating liquids to scalding temperatures. I’d like to see some guy volunteer to make a triple grande nonfat no foam extra hot latte with his delicate areas in such peril!

  17. Rainbow Girl

    It’s almost like there’s some sort of… connection between capitalism and patriarchy…

    Now now, that’s dangerous thinking. I’m just going to go back to my kitchen, put on that French Maid uniform, and whip up something so delicious my husband will never think of visiting StarFuck’s or Geisha Ground or whatever they’re calling it.

  18. donna

    At least if one of the “clients” gets overly hot and bothered, the product can be dumped in their lap…..

  19. Sam

    “little unpornulated pockets of the daily humdrum that afford little or no opportunity for titillation…Getting stitches in your eye is another.

    I’d say the naughty nurse costume sold in every porn store effectively knocks eye-stitchery off the unpornulated list.

  20. Steve

    I believe that focusing on the age (high school!) of the baristas misses the central objection of this “trend” (I go to many coffee places, in service and out, and have never seen this business plan in action). I am no less concerned if the stripper-barista is 30 vs. 17.5 yrs. old. It does come down to an objectifying of women, and a self-demeaning of men who pant on command.

    Yes, its a free country, and yes, the women are making a “free” choice. And I’m sure many go on to lead exemplary lives without the taint of harassment (new meaning to “look and feel”) that must constantly take place.

    Hey, I’m uncomfortable with any cocky male who does over-the-top flirting. The vendor must smile and take it and join in or else business will be affected. How sad!

    I LOVE friendly interaction. Even mild flirting. Starbucks, for my buck (or 3) is a star in this regard. They provide consistent smiles, conversation, and service … if not always the best cup of coffee. Their third place concept is warm and welcoming. They, I am quite sure, will not slide to sleazy as some suggest.

    (No, I do not work there.)

    There is a joke that has not been said about how this compares to the McDonald lawsuits of last decade for spills in the lap, but I’ll refrain and let someone else make it.

  21. Twisty

    “Yes, its a free country, and yes, the women are making a “free” choice.”

    Sure, if you define ‘free’ as ‘strictly adhering to an oppressive caste system.’

  22. yankee transplant

    “the heaviest weight of libido-crushing unsexiness known to plague civilization’s dominant class — the dreary three minutes’ privation between the ordering of a coffee at a drive-thru and the picking up of the coffee at the drive-thru window — is a boner-wilting void made interminable by a vexing paucity of cleavage, lap dances and hottie sex-talk.”

    ~Snort!~

    Thanks for my almost-daily dose of humor mixed with outrage.

  23. Sarah

    “If I’m going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, I’m not going to get served by a guy.”

    So if paying $4 for his coffee entitles a straight man to be served by a person who matches his sexual fantasies, shouldn’t everyone else be entitled to have their preferences fulfilled in the same way? But personally I’m not seeing the connection between $4 coffee (which doesn’t sound like a huge amount for good coffee) and being served by someone you find attractive.

    And what is this ‘drive-thru’ coffee shop thing? Surely no one drinks coffee while actually driving, do they?

  24. Mandos

    Considering the long lines I have seen at Tim Hortons drive-thrus in Canada, yes, people do drink coffee on their way to work. Even so far as to block the main roads with their cars in the drive-thru lineup, grrr.

  25. Twisty

    “Surely no one drinks coffee while actually driving, do they?”

    Are you suggesting that there are people who don’t? My god, this blog is an eye-opener!

  26. Sarah

    The worst part about the whole “story” is that the reporter, despite probable formal education, doesn’t feel ANY pressure to acknowledge any critical, much less feminist, perspective on this idiocy.

  27. norbizness

    Grow your own beans, everyone. You can do it with a few seeds and a small closet and a UV light. Oh wait, not beans. What’s the word?

  28. kate

    I am no less concerned if the stripper-barista is 30 vs. 17.5 yrs. old.

    Good for you, but I for one, am. A thirty year old woman probably has more experience and critical ability to deal with an asshat than does a seventeen year old. A thirty year old woman probably has had at least one experience in her life time of attempted rape/assault/stalking or any other experience to allow her to be mindful enough to take the necessary precautions to protect herself and/or see when such a potential problem is arising.

    Hence the popularity among the patriarchy of young wimuns; they are easy targets for fun and games. Considering we’ve already got heaps of damaged women out there who’ve suffered from such fun and games, I am interested always in decreasing the number of future victims. Eliminating their exposure to such venues is just one way.

  29. Victoria Marinelli

    Over the summer I was visiting old friends in Seattle and was pleasantly astounded by the diversity of espresso-serving establishments (since I am an unrepentant addict, and, living now in Richmond, Virginia, sometimes find it difficult to get a satisfying fix outside of the now-nearly-universal option of McStarbucks).

    I mean, we were driving through Snohomish Valley at one point, which is totally rural with few buildings of any kind, and we passed a roadside espresso shack – across the country road from which was, I shit you not, another roadside espresso shack.

    So, I guess if this particular disgusting bullshit marriage of pornography and espresso enterprises was going to happen somewhere, it was bound to happen in Seattle (particularly after the strip club legislation you reported on earlier). But goddamn… and still. This?! I’d mistakenly thought I was unflappable. Consider me now very sadly and overwhelmingly flapped.

    I will still, as always, love Seattle as I would an estranged lover. To say that my memory of her is now inexorably tainted, though, is a crude understatement.

    *sigh*

  30. Rene

    The summer I was 18, I worked at a local pizza joint, part of a small regional franchise that shall go unmentioned. I was the cashier, morning restroom cleaner, and “salad girl” (which entailed bringing the containers of wilted, yellowing iceberg lettuce back to the kitchen every couple of hours, whereupon I would rinse the foul used-to-be-greens with an emperkening elixir of water and a powder labeled “salad whitener” — the manager told me that if anyone were to ask whether we used the stuff, I should discreetly tell them yes, because apparently it had a way of killing asthmatic people). All the women who worked at this pizza joint had to wear t-shirts that read “What a piece!” and all the dudes had to wear shirts that read “What a hunk!” The dudes, though, mostly got to hang out in the kitchen baking pizzas, so it wasn’t so humiliating for them, I imagine. Years later, the pizza place went into foreclosure because the owner was convicted on several counts of statutory rape.

  31. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Do I remember reading something about sexing up tutors in South Korea? And what good business that smelly little tactic (“business plan”) yielded? Gah.

    If you’re so starved you have to pay a barista to flirt with you, you must be a real troll. It’s a little bit like having to wrap a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you.

  32. Stacy

    I’m a long time reader but a lurker when it comes to commenting, but I had to comment on this one. Ugh, I was having this debate out on a news site I frequent for a good part of last week.

    Basically, it was a huge joke, and I was fed many helpings of “lighten up”, along with an assload of other passive-aggressive plays on the words “Shut up”.

    Some humored me when I went into my concerns with the high school kids, but you’d be amazed (well, actually, I’m sure you wouldn’t) at how fast they turned on us when we actually had the audacity to threaten their male entitlement by suggesting that maybe objectifying and selling women wasn’t the most beneficial to the well-being of women.

    The worst was when I pointed out that high-school girls work there and voiced some concern with feeding a fetish centering around fucking teenagers and little girls, to which I was rebutted by an “Um…” followed by a “guys that want to have sex with young girls [aren't creepy], they’re guys”.

    And of course, it ended with a clinking of glasses and an agreement (on their part) that in reality, white southern men are the most oppressed by uppity bitches like me that dare question them.

    At any rate, Twisty, as a novice blamer, I give you the utmost thanks for your blog. The whole debate I was having really got me down for a few days, and I felt that feminism was quite hopeless. I’m still forming my battle scars, I guess. But I know I can come on here and get a small piece of mind, and re-charge my “uppity” attitude before setting out again.

  33. Ron Sullivan

    If you’re so starved you have to pay a barista to flirt with you, you must be a real troll. It’s a little bit like having to wrap a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you.

    Hey Stacy, try quoting Antoinette at the infestation on your news site. Where invoking empathy doesn’t work, contemptuous mockery might.

    Dang but that’s some good wordin’.

  34. Christopher

    Fascinatingly, a few months ago I saw an opera that explored these very themes.

    Too Much Coffee Man: The Opera was a short little work about Too Much Coffee Man competing with his rival, Too Much Espresso Guy, for the affections of the barista at their local coffee shop.

    She blows them off, because it’s not like she’s obligated to flirt with weirdos who wear Coffee cups on their heads, and then quits her crappy job to be a superhero.

    That’s the entire story.

    It’s weird for me to see this news story so soon after a popular opera by a very popular cartoonist explored how much it sucks to work a job where men constantly objectify you.

    Has shannon Wheeler taught us nothing?!

  35. jezebella

    I have to say that subjecting teenagers to this kind of employment is to a degree more vile because young women mostly do not have the skills to deal with the kind of creeps that business will attract. I was a sixteen-year-old waitress, in a non-pornified beignet & cafe au lait joint, a long time ago, and I got my ass slapped and the wink-and-nudge from all manner of vile old men. I had no idea how to deal with it, beyond maintaining as much physical distance as possible from my male customers. It’s hard to do when you’re carrying a tray of hot coffee, though. At the time I had no notion of talking to my manager or otherwise putting a stop to it. I guess I just figured it was something that came with the job. (which is probably why I haven’t waited tables since then).

    So: setting up teenagers to be the objects of attention from leering perverts is even more fucking disgusting than hiring grown women to tolerate that kind of atmosphere. Which is not to say grown women are choosing the job freely, just that they have a better idea of what they are getting into and how to keep the creeps at a distance. Hopefully they do, anyway.

  36. mags

    I wrote a post about this last week and was hoping you’d share your perspective on it. Yay!

  37. hk-reader

    It’s kind of like the Betel Nut Girls of Taiwan.

    Gross.

  38. Molly

    But, wait. . . it gets better! Just a week or so before this story the Seattle times reported that
    “The firing of a detective who exposed himself at a barista at a coffee stand has been reversed by the Spokane County Civil Service Commission as excessively harsh.

    Instead, under the panel’s 14-page ruling Monday, sheriff’s Detective Joseph W. Mastel, 52, will be on unpaid leave and then forced to retire in July, allowing him to be paid for as much as 1,440 hours of unused sick time and to apply for other law enforcement jobs in the state.. . .
    At his Civil Service Commission hearing, Mastel argued that the woman to whom he exposed himself had dressed provocatively and led him on. “

  39. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I pity the fool who’d be stupid enough to wave his weenie at me if I were on the same side a the counter as the hot coffee.

    Of course, I’d be the one who’d be (permanently) fired and prosecuted.

  40. chines

    I just had to post some cheering news about this situation. Tonight, my husband and I were discussing this story (he works right by one of the joints mentioned in the article) and he expressed astonishment at how long the lines are at these places. Considering how long it takes to make just one espresso, these dudes are sitting in their cars for a very long time. Not only that, but apparently, not every single barrista in these joints dresses provocatively–something not mentioned in the article. Mr. Chines and I both got a giggle at the thought of cleavage-anticipating, porkchop wearing loser dudes waiting in long-ass lines only to reach the window to discover their barrista is un-bodacious! Awesome!

  41. Barista

    Enh, I am a barista, and I don’t get that much sleeze off my clientele. The first time it happened I froze up, because I hadn’t thought about how to deal with it before. But I’ve talked to coworkers and established that I am not going to get fired for mouthing off to harassers (which is good, because I accidentally fired off the bitch-mortar at a religious harasser before checking with my inner censor the next week). It may vary hugely by locale, but I don’t feel that I get that much more sleaze and objectification in my job than I do walking down the street. A downtown street actually wins in that contest.

    So I guess I’m a bit surprised that people see baristas as already more objectified by the male gaze than the average woman in our society. Besides the fact that we have to be friendly to people, which is the same (varies by company of course) whether you sling coffee or copies.

    Just for the record, in NON-pornified coffee bars, the baristas don’t have to wear makeup, and our hair only has to meet health-code style requirements. Thank fucking god.

  42. Barista

    Worth noting however…a male co-worker is also a bartender. I enjoy making drinks so much that I toyed with the idea…then I realized that the sleaze factor would be (current sleaze) *100 and raised to the power of booze. I dropped the idea. The male gaze/gape/gawp/paw/barbarous yawp certainly restricts female profession choice, at least if the woman doesn’t want to deal with their shit constantly.

  43. Twisty

    I was a bartender for 13 years. I do not exaggerate when I say that the experience made me what I am today. I highly recommend it, if you can find a joint where the boss is enlightened enough not to fire you for kicking out the jagoffs.

  44. john patrick

    ahem. not Seattle. none of those places listed were in Seattle. they were all in the red-state suburbs.

    yes, i still blame the patriarchy!

  45. Carie

    I’m angry that the facts portrayed have been literally ignored. Over half of these businesses are FEMALE owned and run, NOT MALE. Women controlled the initiation and establishment of these businesses, and are determined to amplify the attention they have created in order to make money.

    Capitalism and greed have nothing to do with gender.

  46. pisaquari

    Carie :”Capitalism and greed have nothing to do with gender.”

    Theoretically, perhaps, but capitalism in a patriarchal system has plenty/everything to do with gender (see: “Why you aren’t making what your equally-if-not-less-qualified-male counterparts make VOL 1-infinity”). This coffee shop is, yes, exercising it’s capitalistic right to make more money but it’s largely (or ALL) dependant on selling a gender construct of the women-as-sex-class.

  47. Chris

    Carie, whether the businesses are male or female owned is completely irrelevant. It’s still about making women believe that their self-worth is completely tied to their sexuality, and that’s wrong whether the perpetrator is male of female.

  48. crankosaur

    These things are popping up all over:

    http://www.kirotv.com/news/17237640/detail.html

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