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For weeks, rumors floated around Missoula about the potential arrival of a Hooters in our otherwise perfectly progressive and kitsch-free city, but until last week when local real estate agent Steve Edgar announced he’d landed a franchise and planned to build on North Reserve St., the prospect didn’t seem real. Or possible. Who could picture an ersatz sports bar priding itself on busty bimbos in neon orange short-shorts in our classy town?

But truth is stranger than fiction, and Missoula’s really getting a “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” PG jug joint.

The chain’s arrival may sit well with some locals glad to have another source of readily available chicken wings, but for some it marks a step in the wrong direction for our city of progressive ideals.

“Basically we think that Hooters does not reflect Missoula’s values,” says Caitlin Copple, marketing coordinator for the Missoula YWCA. “It just shows that misogyny is still around. We live in a society where women are still valued more for their T&A than their inner strengths.

“Something like this causes cognitive dissonance for younger girls,” she adds.

Hooters, of course, disagrees with such criticism, arguing that women have the right to choose their own career path, whether it’s Supreme Court Justice or Hooters Girl. Indeed, an enterprising gal might attempt both by jiggling her way through law school.

The real problem with Hooters, though, isn’t that it serves up boobs with its burgers. It’s the factory-made gloss it brushes over common vulgarity, reducing the vital, earthy pleasure of sexual attraction to a sanitized, Disney-esque facsimile. They even try to explain away their own name with a tease, arguing that while many consider the term “hooters” slang for a portion of the female anatomy, the owl in the logo contributes enough subtext to stimulate a worthy debate about the implications. No kidding! Folks at Hooters apparently think the joke’s on their uptight detractors, because the company can brush off the dirt with a laugh. But the joke’s really on them, because their enterprise has no substance.

Sophomoric contemplation of sassy chicks with hot bods doesn’t seem particularly entertaining to us, even with a plate of tasty hot wings in front of us. We prefer our sins of the flesh when they’re raunchy and real. If Missoula can’t be genuinely progressive, can’t it at least be authentic?

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