Eugene Cho

naked baristas and hilary clinton

As a father of two young girls [my youngest is a son], I am appalled at what seems to be a weekly occurrence of my daughters sharing with me how school boys keep telling them how much weaker, slower, inferior, and “you can’t do this” kind of statements.  It’s opening my eyes and heart in painful ways.  And the sad truth, I fear, is that not much will change as they grow to be adult women.  They will experience opposition – albeit in more subtle or systemic ways or in the stories I share below, directly.

I’m not trying to get brownie points from my female readers, but here are two examples – locally and nationally – of the ways women are exploited and disrespected. 

The first involves naked and bikini dressed female baristas.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Guess who the coffee shop owners are?  It’s not a secret that business at our Q CAFE isn’t going as well as we’d want, but the answer is clear:  Matt will not be making your latte naked!

Here’s the article via CNN:

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. – Each week, Hot Chicka Latte in Bonney Lake features “Pasties Tuesday.” The barista behind the counter bared so much we couldn’t show her on TV.

But drive by on Sumner-Buckley Highway and she’s out there for all to see.

“Turn on the TV, pick up the magazine, it’s everywhere. We’re not doing anything unusual,” said owner Russ Parrish.

The owner of the espresso stand says they aren’t breaking any laws or health codes.

“According to the law, they can wear pasties and bikini bottoms, as long as they’re wearing shoes,” said Parrish.

Down the street at Cowgirls Espresso, which opened a week ago, the baristas sport bikinis, but CEO Scott Arbuckle says that’s as far as they will go.

The pasties-clad baristas have generated outrage in the community and a protest is planned for this weekend.

Each week, Hot Chicka Latte in Bonney Lake features “Pasties Tuesday.”

And the city council is trying to find a way to cite them for indecent exposure.

“Most cities are concerned that as soon as you cite someone for the pasties, you’re going to find yourself in a legal battle that’s probably going to be going on for months,” said Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson.

The bottom line is the businesses make more money this way.

“Guys like girls in bikinis, what guy in their right mind doesn’t want a pretty girl to say hi and serve them coffee?” said Parrish.

A Seattle man’s co-workers and friends have started a group called “Supporters of Bikini Baristas of America.” They may launch a counter protest this weekend. They say they want to support small businesses, who they say are being unfairly targeted.

The second example comes from one of the most accomplished women in the contemporary history of the United States: Hilary Clinton.  Whether you are pro or anti Hilary, this was completely out of line. Stupid crazy.

From Media Matters

Discussing Sen. Hillary Clinton’s comments regarding sexism in the media’s coverage of her presidential campaign, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin noted on the May 20 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room that “[t]here was a column in The New York Times not too long ago where it talked about some of the humor in the campaign, and the punch line was a line that was — that Hillary Clinton was a ‘white bitch.’ ” Moments later, as TPM Media reporter-blogger Greg Sargent noted, CNN political contributor Alex Castellanos interrupted, asserting, “And some women, by the way, are named that and it’s accurate,” adding of Clinton, “[S]he is a tough — that tough lady, tough in politics, that’s been her great strength. But let’s face it, she can be a very abrasive, aggressive, irritating person, and a lot of voters, I think, see her that way.”

CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger responded: “Yeah, but a lot of voters don’t, you know.” Castellanos interjected: “It doesn’t have to be unanimous.” Later in the conversation, Castellanos asserted that Clinton is “very good at playing the professional victim until she gets up closely … and then can put a knife in your ribs. … [T]here is no weakness in this lady.” He also said: “I have a problem with Hillary Clinton playing victim when it’s convenient. I have a problem — it’s not a problem at all when she’s doing well. It’s not a problem. But the minute she’s trapped in the corner, it doesn’t look like the math adds up, she doesn’t look like she has her way to get — then all of a sudden, she’s the … poor, weak … cookie-baking lady.”

Filed under: politics, seattle,

27 Responses

  1. Nancy O. says:

    Can I swear on your blog? I was going to but read on your story that you’re a pastor.

    What the f88k?

  2. Jamie Holts says:

    Hello. I was reading someone elses blog and saw you on their blogroll. Would you be interested in exchanging blog roll links? If so, feel free to email me.


  3. elderj says:

    I would like to wholeheartedly second Nancy O’s comment

  4. Rachael says:

    I don’t really understand Nancy O’s comment, but in my opinion, #1 I get so upset with the world’s views on the woman’s role…it confuses me sometimes. Its either one extreme or another-what about the results of this problem? I teach 21 kids who’s parents don’t spend enough time with them because they are either working their tails off to attain some amount of money for “happiness” or they are going from boyfriend to boyfriend (or girlfriend to girlfriend) and never home. Our kids don’t have any guidance. Our kids are not being nurtured. So when our little girls grow up into teenagers they can’t make the right choice or know any different when they see other girls dressed inappropriately or a woman like Hilary who runs that household. It’s the lack to see TRUTH. We weren’t not created to have the same roles as men. We have women who act like men and men who act like women. I went to get my husband some jeans at the GAP and didn’t know which side was which. I too get caught up in these lies and have to fight it….I have to constantly tell myself that my role is so important…I don’t need to wear this to get attention, i don’t need to have this certain job to be successful…but i need to do all I can to contribute to eternity. if that means stay at home so my children are good witnesses for Christ, then so be it. If that means put my natural desires for what I want so i can support my husband as a true wife so my husband can fulfill his calling then so be it. I never want to face God and have him question why I didn’t fulfill His calling on my life. Its not about us, but what we can do for Him. Thinking about the next generation. Raising up our children in the way they should go. I never remember seeing a scripture on “work long hours women so you can provide for your family” or “lead men astray by wearing skimpy clothes causing them to sin so you can make an extra buck”.

  5. ubuntucat says:

    I don’t know why it took you having daughters to realize the prevalence of sexism, but I’m glad you have. I really don’t understand anti-feminists (or head-in-the-sandists).

  6. Jeff Lam says:

    the cnn video is bizarre. while discussing sexism in the media coverage of hillary clinton, they manage to be the perfect example of sexism in the media coverage of hillary clinton. the other commentators were uncomfortable with alex’s comments, but i wish they would’ve come right out and called his comments the perfect example of what they and the ny times article are talking about.

    when alex talks about the reasons why hillary is accurately labeled a bitch, he calls her tough, aggressive, abrasive, and irritating. it strikes me that a man with similar qualities would likely be simply thought of as a strong leader.

  7. Jennifer says:


    My heart goes out to your girls. I think most women knew that expereince as they were growing up – I know I did.

    The more difficult part is knowing that when they hit puberty, the talk from boys becomes even more hideous. No matter what schedule they develop on (early or late) it will not keep dehumnizing comments away. Sometimes the best a girl in middle school can hope for is to be invisible…

    I dont know how this changes. I do know that as a mother of a school-age boy I am drilling into him the importance of treating girls like friends – which means sticking up for them. When his little group of friends wanted to form a “bad boys club” (which really just means they run crazy around the playground) he advocated that girls should be included too. I hope that heart attitude lasts.

  8. Tyler says:

    im not a hilary fan, but that alex guy on cnn is a nut job.

  9. Bev. says:

    I know there are people that think these young female baristas have agreed to take over their tops or wear bikinis but consider again who the owners of the shops are. They are men basically using these women to make more money. Yes, I know that the girls are making more money but they are being exploited.

    It’s sad.

  10. DK says:

    Umm, I feel awkward saying this but the video isn’t working. I want to see it not because of what you think but because I want to be informed. :)

  11. Okay so I’m going to be the one to go against the flow I guess. I too am a father of a beautiful girl (almost 5). I don’t want my daughter to be ridiculed and belittled and I don’t want to see her grow up to carry herself in a way that tries to tantalize men for her personal gain. And what I do about that is love her, encourage her and try to point her to Jesus, both through my actions and my words. That is simplified down of course.

    Some here seem to be suffering from a case of bad boundaries. The girls at the barista stand are making the choice to work there under those circumstances. While I disagree with the whole gimmick, we have no idea why those girls chose to work there and participate; for all we know their parents could have been right on, present and attentive to their needs growing up, and yet the girls are in a willing phase of rebellion. Who knows. If people don’t like it, they should stop going. But the girls are not victims if they choose to participate.

    A question for myself and the rest of you: do we as Christians take too much on our shoulders? Are we in some indirect way taking responsibility for the decay in society? Are we expecting to stop the inevitability of evil as chosen by some, and when it happens, do we think that we’ve failed personally somehow? Do we have a desire to control the environment around us, even related to national news stories where we point a finger and say “see- things are slipping away!” and then proceed to grieve internally as if it’s our fault.

    I am not saying that we shouldn’t feel, mourn, act and seek to change this world for God’s glory. Aching and thirsting for righteousness is awesome. But always remember- God’s freewill will be abused by many. I think we’ll have a better chance of being a durable witness if we accept that first. Our appall is part of what distances us from those we want to encourage towards Christ, because we spend so much time pointing fingers and worrying about social trends.

  12. tawny says:

    I so appreciate your concern for women. I think we are making it all too complicated. In the world, I agree with the post above me, there is only so much we can do. In the church, we should treat each other like brothers and sisters who love each other and have a healthy, loving, relationship. It is that simple.

  13. I thought girls were weaker, slower, and inferior (physically) to boys. Maybe it just isn’t PC to acknowledge it these days. I am sure Larry Summers would agree.

    Down with Sexism (real sexism)!

  14. jHong says:

    i’ve been generally appalled at the media’s coverage of the democratic primaries. i’ve heard several news organizations talk about how clinton is getting the “expected white female vote” in such-and-such state and how obama is getting the “expected college educated african-american vote” in such-and-such state. isn’t it a bit denigrating to assume that women or people of color would vote on the sole basis of a shared minority status? what does this say about the media’s portrayal of both women and people of color as educated voters? i know it’s cliché to point fingers at the big bad media machine but REALLY… c’mon! it all seems kinda ridic.

  15. ryanbd says:

    well, I live near Lake City Wy in NE Seattle and feel book-ended by strip joints and riske baristas. Politically / legally, if folks feel the need to get their lust on as they order coffee they can do it – but they need to do more to obscure the stands. Make these guys get out of their cars and walk up to a discrete window. Treat them like every other adult-oriented, sell-via-sex business and cover them up. There’s a high school and middle school a few blocks away from these businesses and it sucks that students have to walk by these places. If you need somone with their boobs hanging out to make you a latte, get out of your car and walk behind a wall or something.

    On a side note of a humurous nature, it would seem that the chance of a bad burn is pretty high for these women. I hope they’re careful with the hot drinks.

  16. BEW says:

    Telegraph –

    There certainly are those who think it’s the church’s job to “control” our culture. Just see Slice of Laodicea from a previous blog post for a great example. The reality, however, is that trying to make the world look like the Kingdom of God just flat-out doesn’t work. Protesting these espresso stands is not going to make Russ Parish or Scott Arbuckle say “You know, you’re right.. what we’re doing is wrong.” It’s very likely the other way around. The ‘negative’ attention is just drawing more patrons.

    However, this doesn’t mean these girls aren’t victims. They are. They’re victims of a society that tells them their breasts are worth more than their minds. They’ve been lured into a lie – that their life’s desires will be satisfied by drawing attention to themselves. Even worse, they’re convinced that *they’re* powerful and in control while being exploited, as *they’re* the ones making money from drooling guys that just want to see mammary glands.

    Suggesting that people using their free will aren’t victims is a difficult road to go down. Is a woman that was abused as a child a victim if she ‘chooses’ to become a prostitute? Just because someone says “I want to do this” doesn’t mean that they’re making that decision in a rational, healthy way.. or that they’re free from any influence that has left them broken.

  17. BEW-

    Where do I go to check out Slice of Laodicea? Eugene has more than a few blogs to dig through.

    On to your final two paragraphs. You’re using the word “victim” quite loosely in my opinion and are painting a dramatic picture that may not apply. You are saying that they are victims of things- lies, society, as if those components rule their behavior. While I don’t doubt that there are a great many influences on us and on them, and the majority of those negative, the influence should not be the primary focus. We can be so quick to call people victims and search for the big bad cause, and in the process we may shift the blame to abstractions and lose perspective. So they may be victims in the minor sense, but I’m calling that peripheral in this case. By your logic, we can exempt every person from their bad behavior because it’s likely in response to a series of negative influences. See the danger there?

    Your example of a true and major league victim (a child abused) is massively extreme when compared to bikini baristas. If this were a post about child abuse, I wouldn’t be here saying “the victims are responsible for their actions.” Clearly that’s a whole other set of circumstances and we’re no longer comparing apples to apples.


  18. amy powell says:

    okay…so the other day i was having some coffee with a new-ish couple in our church. somehow the topic of politics came up and we happened to discover that we are both fans of Obama. then the man proceeded to say,”I don’t think this country is ready for a female president.” I cautiously asked why. He unashamedly replied,”Well, I just take one look at my wife and think, ‘Would I want her running the country?’
    I loving looked at him and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He kind of laughed it off and ended up moving out of state not long after that…though he seemed to respect my leadership as a female pastor. triple yikes.

  19. Jersey says:

    I do not want to sound sexist, but as long as sexism still reigns in the world, developed or developing, I am at some peace to know that my son would have an easier chance at getting ahead in the world than if he were born a woman.

    Anytime someone tried to tell me something was meant more for the guys or the guys were better, I one-upped them.😀

  20. casachaos says:

    Seriously, once a month any pre-menopausal woman would kick some serious a$$ as president… I mean, get down to brass tacks, people! :)
    (In line with what amy powell wrote… pretty funny, I think- be afraid, be very afraid!)

  21. ttremeth says:

    we all only understood the process that chemically happens in a man’s brain when he sees an image of a naked woman. That process is not a matter of self control but one that cannot be stopped other than looking away from the image and changing the thought processes. I
    1. Men do not need any more sexual images
    2. Women do not need to be more exploited.
    This kind of thing is accepted today but the physiologic process has never changed.

  22. BEW says:

    Telegraph –

    I agree that my example was extreme, but that was for a reason. Our culture (thanks mainly to its worship of money and pleasure) typically goes so far to explain away a broken woman’s decision to become a prostitute as her “right” or “choice”. That thereby frees us from the obligation to look beyond that “right” or “choice” to examine what’s really motivating her. If our culture refuses to even acknowledge the brokenness of a prostitute, we’re certainly not going to spend any time thinking about a woman wearing pasties while serving a latte. It’s her right! Her choice! She’s a responsible adult!

    Meanwhile, lurking under the surface is the heart of a young woman that (like all of us) just yearns for attention, admiration, and respect.. and that heart has been buried under the weight of cultural conditioning and lies that she never asked for in the first place – and likely doesn’t even see.

    Does this mean she or anyone else shouldn’t be held “responsible” for her decisions? Of course not. Though I’m not sure why that’s relevant in this instance. I (nor I hope any other Christian) am not going to judge her for the decision to add this to her resume. I strongly disagree with picketing these places as it’s counter-intuitive and not the relational, loving way that Jesus would have approached the situation. I still contend, however, that she is a victim – not of abstractions, but of an accepted practice of turning human emotions and physical attractions into a carnival of commercialism to satisfy our gluttony for eye candy.

    PS –

  23. I LOVE the book “A Return to Modesty” by Wendy Shallit. If you haven’t read it, you really should. It would help you see what your girls will be enduring as they grow up amongst the Lord of the Flies. LOL! Seriously – it’s a must read! It’s not a hyper-religious legalistic themed manual on morality – but it was written when Ms. Shallit was in her early 20’s and she was concerned with the general lack of respect for girls and young women in her generation.

    Ironically though, some people find the original cover design for the jacket of the book to be…. immodest…..

  24. BEW-

    I still don’t think you are making good use of examples- this prostitute/child abuse thing is too extreme and if that were the case, I’d be agreeing with you completely.

    It seems like you are taking this particular barista episode too seriously, but besides that our points are now mostly working in tandem as far as I can see. You are warning against one extreme (personal responsibility trumps all) while I am warning against the opposite (a responsibility and boundary-free zone). Where we are disagreeing, I’m guessing that you still see my point, and I do see yours (which was elegantly stated in your last post).


  25. […] continued degradation of our ‘better halves’ chronicled by Eugene Cho. These icons link to social […]

  26. Colleen EH says:

    There is a chickalatte stand right down the street from our house. Last night we were driving by and saw a man standing in front of the window with his pants around his ankles. We turned around and checked on the barista who was very scared and unsure of what to do, we told her to call the police.

    The safety of these young ladies should be of concern to both the business owners and the community. I wonder how many of the baristas have been sexually harassed and assaulted?

  27. chad says:

    so, i’m not a woman, but i am a barista and i can’t speak for the women who (hopefully) choose to do this of their own free will (think of what the implications would be if they weren’t), but i can tell you it is absolutely NO FUN having scalding hot milk or water on any part of your skin and my apron has saved me from more than a few burns in the 5 years i’ve been doing this – in the interest of their own safety, i would like them to wear some modest clothes. and in respect for their identity as human beings, i would like to encourage them to put some more clothes on – it may seem like it, but they really don’t have to “play the system” to get by.

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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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