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A Gen Y Girl's Perspective on Exploitation

Having allowed my daughter to drag me to lunch recently for what she pronounced the “best Philly cheese steak in town,” I am re-evaluating my opinion on what I had come to consider part of the modern demimonde.

The wait staff at the restaurant offering said Philly cheese steak actually wears less clothing than the Hooters girls. I was uncomfortable and perplexed a) that my daughter and her friends had eaten at this place on several occasions and b) that she had zero problem with the overwhelming sexualized marketing that filled this place with all sorts of men on a Tuesday at noon. Slogans like “come in for the scenic view” and “because you’re the man” which never fail to trigger my own puke response had no effect on this girl of mine whatsoever – we were after all only there for the sandwich.

We were also the only two chicks in the place not on the time clock.

I asked how it was that she did not mind forking over her hard earned money at a place such as this – stellar sandwich notwithstanding. To be sure, I had several maternal worries in addition to what I immediately perceived as the obvious objectification of young girls in mouse size lumberjack uniforms: Is a naughty bit going to fall out and onto my food? Do they wash their hands after scratching their bare backs or adjusting their navel rings? Those shorts look like panties. I wonder if any of their dads come in here . . .

My daughter unflinchingly advised, “as a liberated woman; mom, I am surprised you have a problem with these women doing as they please.” Further, “if these girls remain self sufficient on tips earned from throwing good food and cold beer to a bunch of pathetic guys who need to see T and A on their lunch break to get through the last half o’the day, seems to me it’s not really the girls who are being taken advantage of.” (It was obvious from the atmosphere around us that most of the gentlemen in house were not there for the Philly cheese steak.

“It’s their choice, mom.” She then asked why I immediately felt the girls were being exploited when it was clearly obvious to her that the men were. The kid left me speechless.

My Gen Y daughter who has no personal memories or experiences related to any inequality between the sexes on this day checked her Gen X mother on an issue. She is a beneficiary of the hard won battles fought by many generations of women preceding her and has no paternalistic inclination where our gender is concerned. Perhaps a perspective shift is in the works. Perhaps an engrained paternalistic view towards women has daughtered out.

I am exceedingly hopeful as to what my daughter’s generation will continue to accomplish in the area of women’s issues and most curious as to what this perspective on exploitation and equality will bring to fruition.

Truly, it was the best Philly cheese steak ever – on a multitude of levels.

Thank you Baby J - but I still don't want to see you in that uniform.

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