Male servers find female wait staff have it tougher

Some male members of an Ottawa, Ont., restaurant had to find out for themselves whether a CBC story on how bad it is being a female server in a restaurant is as bad as reported.

It’s as bad as reported, they found.

“If this is what women have to deal with in days or weeks or years of working in restaurants, or wherever they’re working, then I can’t even really imagine that, actually. It’s kind of tough,” busser and server James Tilden tells the CBC today.

The original story investigated restaurant chains and found that women felt pressured to wear revealing outfits.

The men at the Union Local 613 restaurant dressed up as women last night.

“I’m actually kind of horrified about the idea that when I bend over, people will be able to see my little bits and parts,” the co-owner of the restaurant said before the demonstration.

The men lasted an hour, CBC says.

A CBC camera caught Tilden’s butt and chest being groped and poked. Co-owner Ivan Gedz described being grabbed by people he knew on the way downstairs — they quickly piped down when they realized Gedz was wearing a microphone, he said. And sometimes, joking customers went a little too far.

Guys were making comments, jokingly of course, because that’s what we were going for — to show light to it — but even those jokes that they were making were, after a while, still very uncomfortable to be faced with,” said Tristan Bragaglia-Murdock, who was also serving on Wednesday.

Tilden said he eventually wanted to stop serving one particularly rowdy table.

“I went there if I had to, but kind of avoided it,” he said. “I asked [another server] to take [a drink to them], and that was because I was like, OK, I could deal with this again, and I know it’s joking and I was joking with them the first time, but at that point, I just didn’t really want to deal with it…. It was annoying, and I just wanted to give them the drink and walk away, but I realized that wasn’t going to be an option.”

“I feel like this isn’t exactly what it’s like for women, however I feel like I’m put on the spot. I feel like I’m being stared at a lot. Obviously people are kind of smiling and smirking about it, but I feel like I’m on the spot and kind of the centre of attention,” Tilden said.

“It reinforces how ridiculous it is. Seeing men walk by in tight miniskirts and heels really just hits it home how crazy it is to ask women to do that,” customer Jennifer Hatchard said. She once worked in a restaurant and says she was often sent home for not wearing enough jewelry.