Male Servers Wear Heels at Popular Ottawa Restaurant to Highlight Objectification of Women

If you dined at Ottawa’s popular Union Local 613 restaurant on Wednesday night, a male in a skirt and heels may have served you.

In fact, their entire male staff rocked the look that night.

While that’s totally ok with me regardless (and, frankly, lost its shock value years ago), the reason for the outfits was to send a message: it’s not ok to force female servers to adhere to sexy, ultimately objectifying, dress codes.

Restaurant owner Ian Gedz was tired of the industry-wide practice of forcing females to show skin, with dress codes that can include things like short dresses, heels, jewellery requirements, and full hair and makeup. Inspired by last week’s troubling CBC Marketplace investigation that revealed sexist dress codes at some of Canada’s most recognized chain restaurants, he decided to do something about it. He asked his staff if they were ok with the idea, and they all agreed (presumably, as Trudeau would say, “because it’s 2016″). Gedz also rocked a pair of heels for the occasion.

According to CBC, most of the men only lasted an hour or two in the torturous heels. It’s safe to say their service slipped as a result. Not to mention, they received a taste of the objectification faced by their female counterparts in the industry on the regular.

“In no way do we mean to engage in any form of slut shaming or shame those who choose to wear more revealing clothing,” said Gedz, according to Yahoo News. “We have some young ladies at our restaurant who like to wear what would be considered provocative clothing and others who don’t. But that’s their option and that’s the most important thing is that it’s their option.” All proceeds raised were donated to St. Joe’s Women’s Centre, a local women’s shelter.

On Tuesday, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) issued a much overdue policy paper calling for an end to sexualized dress codes that discriminate against female and transgendered employees.

Perhaps the culprit restaurants should take a page from Gedz’s restaurant’s dress code: wear whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t offend anybody.