Sexual objectification is not empowering
When discussing the impact of media, we often refer to the ever-growing body of research showing that exposure to highly sexualised, sexually objectifying content such as what is displayed in Honey Birdette's shop front windows is harmful to children and undermines gender equality. A review of twenty years of research, from 109 publications containing 135 studies found:
“consistent evidence that both laboratory exposure and regular, everyday exposure to this content are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women’s competence, morality, and humanity.” - Media and Sexualization: State of Empirical Research, 1995–2015
In other words, despite Honey Birdette claiming to be "empowering women" the way this company conducts itself is the exact opposite of empowering for women and girls. Sexual objectification literally keeps women in their place.
But there is something else about Honey Birdette that may be disempowering - being an employee. One would think that if Honey Birdette was truly empowering women, those closest to the company would be the most empowered of all.
Honey Birdette Employee reviews
Employment websites like Glassdoors.com and Indeed.com allow people to write reviews about their workplace. There are a number of reviews from women who say they are either former or current employees of Honey Birdette. Common themes in these reviews include allegations of bullying, sexual harassment from customers, no security cameras, no support when complaining about sexual harassment to management, not being permitted to use the toilet, forced to wear a tight fitting uniform made up of garments that employees must purchase from the store and forced to wear high heels for long shifts.
A reviewer who says they're a current employee and has worked for Honey Birdette for “more than two years” expresses concern that staff don’t know how to give customers advice about anal sex.
“We need an overhaul, a company standard of basic ‘sex’ information. Like what advice would you give to a couple that wanted to explore backdoor play.”
Another reviewer alleges she was asked personal questions during the job interview and was told that sexual harassment from customers was "part of the job."
"They also asked if I was a virgin and when I lost it in my interview"
"I have had a number of uncomfortable experiences with male customers who come in for the sole purpose to hit on me and touch me, myself and other staff this has happened to have been told "It's part of the job".