Classy restaurants dish out
second-rate service to women
By Alison Cook
Female Houstonians have long
been granted the dubious
privilege of lunching in Foley's
erstwhile Men's Grill and
wearing pants into the posh
confines of the Warwick Club's
Lest we congratulate ourselves
prematurely, however, consider
that the more pervasive and
annoying day-to-day trials endured by women in restaurants
are not the sort that can be
legislated out of existence.
Waiter's indifference, bad
tables and a steadfast refusal to
believe that a woman might
actually pay the check &re among
the aggravations that are
destined to linger on and on, like
a summer cold or a very old
soldier - the vestiges of lifetime
layers of prescribed etiquette,
decorum, role-assumptions and
plain old economic self-interest
(specifically the tip, of which
I speak of these ills advisedly.
For some years I have reviewed
restaurants for kcal
publications, and in the course of
my researches I have had more
than enough time to reflect on the
unhappy fact that women are
treated quite, quite differently
from men when it comes to dining
out. This is particularly true
when said women are either
noticeably young or do not have
the good fortune to look Yves-St.
Laurenty, I've got-a-Mercedes-
Which brings us to money and
the dread Tip, the root of much
evil in these matters. For
whatever reasons (a history of
household penny-pinching or a
lack of a certain macho ex-
pansiveness when it comes time
to buy cigars and bestow
gratuities on the help, maybe)
women have the reputation of
being bad tippers.
There may be more women
these days in the upper income
brackets, but a wraiter who's
hustling for his 15, 20 or maybe
even 25 percent is not acting on
demographics. He's acting on gut
instinct* and that instinct tells
him (correctly or not) that the
guy wining and dining a client, or
the one romancing a female
friend at a corner table, are going
to be good for a bigger bill and a
bigger tip than the two women
who just walked in together. Thus
are priorities born.
The second-classing of women
in restaurants had numerous
interesting manifestations. Some
of the more bothersome ones are:
This behavior complex is
common to waiters and
waitresses in all restaurants, not
just the pricey ones. It's denoted
by little eye contact with the
female (s) in the dining party,
frequent turning to the male (s)
for corroboration while the
women order, and automatic
addressing of the male (alias
"sir") with regard to further
amenities during the meal.
At least half the time it is
assumed that trie male will order
for his female companion. This is
more than faintly ridiculous,
since this doesn't allow for
personal specifications or
questions on the part of the
Continued on page 10
TSU child care
Due to the increased number of
women in the work force and the
rise in the number of single-
parent households, child care has
become a prominent social issue.
According to the Office of Early
Childhood Development, Texas
Department of Community Affairs, there were 420,000 children
in need of day care in Texas in
In trying to meet the needs of
student-parents as well as those
of the urban community, Texas
Southern University is instituting
an on-campus child care facility.
According to Charles R.
Walker, Dean of Students, a prefabricated structure will be
provided to initially house the
development, but there are hopes
that a permanent structure will
evolve in the future. Not strictly a
"day care" facility, the T.S.U.
program is planning to offer
evening as well as weekend
care. Fees for the services will
be on a sliding scale basis but
there is support for a cooperative
arrangement in which a parent
may work at the child care
facility in lieu of payment for his
or her own child care services.
A current emphasis of child
care programs is that the care
provided be of an educational-as
well as custodial-nature.
Programmed trips, both
recreational and cultural, are
planned as part of the child care
curriculum at T.S.U., and
transportation needs for these
activities have already been
anticipated. Another proposed
feature of the T.S.U. program is
the inclusion of hot meals and-or
snacks for the children.
Dean Walker reports that
survey data have been gathered
from student-parents to help
determine the various needs they
may have for child care. The data
wiL be used to solicit foundation
and federal funds to help support
Students of the Home
Economics Department will staff
the program initially, but a work-
study program has also been
considered that, according to
Dean Walker, would provide the
most solid source of federal
funding. The project will be
under the direction of Bobbie
Henderson of the Home
Economics Department and
Alma Alexander, Administrative
Assistant to the Dean of Students.
ADA LOUISE HUXTABLE
Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic of the NEW YORK TIMES,
gave a lecture entitled, "The City: The Impossible Dream" at
Hamman Hall auditorium on the Rice campus last month. It was her
first visit to Houston and she said she was in "culture shock." To her,
Houston and New York represent two polarities: New York being
"unpardonably arrogant," and Houston being "proudly defensive."
She added that "New York is broke and losing population and thus its
tax base, while Houston is becoming a new economic and political
center, and gaining population." However, she denied any simplistic
analyses or answers to the urban situation. A city is "a mirror of
society," and therefore complex, she said. She described' New York
as "molded in the iron grid of nineteenth century mass transit." In
twentieth century Houston, the freeway is the "core of life where
products from Detroit dominate the city." The old cities, she says, are
not in their death throes, but in transition. She calls history "the
continuing process of becoming." Huxtable laments that the only
examples of architecture in Houston are the financial and commercial
buildings, and those of institutionalized culture.
A "misinterpretation" of a speech by Australian feminist Elizabeth
Reid has led several media women to file a formal complaint with the
National News Council, criticizing UPI's coverage of the address.
The complaint concerns Austin UPI's reporter Ann Arnold's story
on Reid's address, delivered at the Austin Conference on Women in
Public Life last November.
Reid, former advisor to the Australian prime minister, spoke to
women striving for power, warning them that their sexual favors were
still expected as payment for a promotion or favorable vote.
Speaking with great emotion, Reid charged that women are still
treated as sex objects by the press and high officials, and are expected
to put out as a "call girl."
Her language was explicit and shocking to some, but her message
was clear: "Beware of being expected to behave like a loose woman in
top level barbaining."
The UPI story, however, had Reid practically advocating
prostitution. The first paragraph read, "Sex is the easiest and most
effective route to political power for women, according to an
Australian feminist." Completely misconstrued, Reid appeared to be
urging women to sleep their way to political power.
The incongruity of the wire story is even more pronounced when it
correctly continued that Reid's speech was given a standing ovation
by an audience that included Lady Bird Johnson, U. S. District Judge
Sarah T. Hughes, and many other women presently serving as
legislators, mayors and other elected or appointed officials.
Arnold explained that her critical lead paragraph was misinterpreted by a Dallas Regional UPI rewrite person and she was unable
to correct the error.
What happened in Arnold's words is more a "misunderstanding"
than an "act of malice." But one conference participant lamented,
"why is misunderstanding such a traditional feature of journalism in
reporting on the women's movement?"
The complaint was signed by members of the media panel of the
conference, including Peg Simpson, president of the Washington Press
Club, Sey Chassler, Editor-in-Chief of Redbook, and Susan Caudill of
KERA-TV in Dallas.
SUSAN CAUDILL is a reporter
for KERA-TV, Dallas. c