Beginning to Unpack Randy's Burgers' Mistakes; from The "Weinstein" Burger to General Sexism
November 3, 2018
Sheffield Hallam Students Union will be releasing a statement, written by myself in my capacity as elected Women's Rep, and the Campaigns and Democracy programme lead, which sums up our feelings succinctly on Randy's Hardcore Hamburgers' release and subsequent retraction on the "Weinstein" burger. However, I would like to expand upon my quote in the statement with this blog post, outside of Union jurisdiction, in a kind of open letter to Randy's Hardcore Hamburgers:
By naming a burger after a famous alleged abuser, Randy’s have directly contributed to the culture and miseducation surrounding sexual violence in our society today. This is not only insensitive to survivors of sexual violence, but also belittles our fight to have sexual violence and misogyny taken seriously.
Whilst we are glad that Randy’s have pledged to rename the burger, it remains a fact that something like this should never have happened in the first place. This is a clear example of the rape culture, normalisation of abuse and miseducation about sexuality and consent prevalent in our society.
Rape and sexual assault are not something to be joked about, devaluing the experiences and trauma of victims. The added insult of a burger, a literal piece of meat, being named after somebody who has treated women as pieces of meat, is not lost on me. The fact that a mainstream commercial chain’s marketing team can think that it is a good idea to glamorise and promote sexual violence is a clear example of where our society is lacking in education about consent, assault, and also female sexuality. This is not a generational issue as implied by the manager of Randy’s; this is an issue that has always been around and is only now beginning to garner the attention it rightly deserves. Further to this, in reference to the “abuse” the manager claims his staff have been receiving, I would ask that he apologises to his staff for putting them in this position, and thinks about the abuse, much greater than this, that women face on a daily basis because of jokes like this.
Other burger names listed on the menu, which have not been changed, such as “FYD” (Follow Your Dick), “fake taxi” and “casting couch” (popular porn brands), continue to raise cause for concern. There is nothing wrong with talking openly about sex and porn - it’s an important part of encouraging people of every gender to be sex positive. However, there is a difference between this and glorifying things which may depict women as vulnerable objects for male gratification - not in possession of their own bodies, sexuality, and pleasure - without also opening a discussion about women's own agency to choose how they are perceived sexually. Porn can be ethical and consensual, and made for women too, but the general theme of Randy’s Hardcore Hamburgers’ marketing strategy is not something that creates a safe environment for women. I question whether students living above the restaurant and around the surrounding area will feel safe knowing that a venue steeped in such male-centric sexualisation, with a manager who believes jokes about rapists are runny, exists below them.
I would like to invite Randy’s to contact me if they are serious about changing their strategy and moving away from harmful rape culture and into sex positivity, where everyone can feel safe. I would be happy to personally advise and help lead a focus group for them to right their wrongs. Likewise, I would be happy to expand upon the points listed above.