Tips went down, abuse went up

Wait what? The Guardian has a category called Living in a woman’s body? How is that possible? Isn’t it totally…………………..transphobic?

At any rate, the current entry is Living in a woman’s body: hospitality workers have always suffered abuse. In the pandemic, it got worse. It’s written by Saru Jayaraman, whose lived experience may have left her somewhat less impressed by Gender Mythology than your average Owen and Jolyon and Adrian.

After working as a bartender in Washington DC for many years, Ifeoma Ezumaki’s body reached its limit during the pandemic. For Ezumaki and millions of other restaurant employees, working during the pandemic – often, in the US, for a “sub-minimum” wage – became a source of immeasurable suffering. Tips went down because sales went down, while customer harassment and hostility went up. Ezumaki and her colleagues had to become public health marshals, in addition to cocktail servers; she was asked to enforce social distancing, mask wearing and even vaccination requirements.

A customer at the bar “asked” her to pull her mask down so that he could inspect her face, and when she declined, told her she wouldn’t be eating that night.

The comment exemplified the power that some male customers, managers and even colleagues feel they have over women’s bodies in the restaurant industry. While Ezumaki and her colleagues wished to protect their bodies and the bodies of their families by wearing a mask, many male customers made it clear that they believed they had the right to control female waiters’ bodies, particularly when the waiters were dependent on tips. Many have reported male customers asking them to take off their masks so that they can judge their looks – and tip on that basis.

And, as the emphasis on bodies underlines, this is a form of harassment and domination particular to women. The kind of man who bullies women like that is not looking for trans women’s bodies. Men aren’t as easy to bully, because of male puberty.

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