I had never heard of The Tilted Kilt until I was copied on an email message being circulated by some concerned area residents. They were organizing a meeting with the managers of The Valley Mall to express concerns about the mall’s plans to install the restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Ruby Tuesday.
Thirty seconds at The Tilted Kilt’s website convinced me that these concerned citizens were right: This place is bad news for our community.
The site’s primary homepage photo reveals the business’ marketing strategy and much more —a trio of attractive, college-aged girls clad in too-small bikini tops and short skirts beckons the poor cads of America who are hungry to gratify their basest inclinations. For the right price, men can trot on down to The Tilted Kilt to fill both their bellies and their eyes.
But the website is more than tasteless advertising, inviting male consumers to go further in indulging their “hunger.” A tab on the website homepage lets viewers “meet” the “Featured Kilt Girl,” a bombshell pictured on a beach in a barely-there bikini, whose goal is “to graduate from college” and whose favorite restaurant meal is “The Devil’s Last Supper, because it’s so yummy!”
This establishment, whose website proudly proclaims that it originated in “Sin City,” seeks to metastasize in our community a cancer that has grown out of significant voids in the broader culture. It has grown out of our society’s persistent lack of genuine respect for women, its failure to appreciate real (but much more costly) intimacy, and its lack of concern for the well being of others.
By ensuring The Tilted Kilt’s ultimate failure in Harrisonburg, we can show the nation that as a community, we recognize our own shortcomings in these regards, and that we seek to overcome them rather than feed them.
Yes, I hope The Tilted Kilt fails. I hope it fails because our community refuses to patronize a business that preys on young girls in need of cash, capitalizes on male temptations, and lowers our standards for public decency.
I hope The Tilted Kilt fails because the young, attractive girls in our city recognize that being employed at this kind of restaurant is a subtle form of prostitution; that they will refuse to set themselves up to become the objects of strangers’ sexual fantasies. I hope that they will assign too high a value to their bodies to accept the proposal that visual access be traded in a marketplace exchange.
I hope that they will think beyond the paycheck they can earn and the superficial admiration they can garner to consider the effect of their actions on others. I hope they will refuse to demean themselves and the rest of us by perpetuating the toxic notion that beautiful women are commodities.
I hope The Tilted Kilt fails because the men of Harrisonburg care for and respect the women in their lives. Any man who thinks that his wife, girlfriend, sister, daughter or female friend is unaffected by watching him stare appreciatively at a half-naked woman needs to do a reality check.
Wives and girlfriends feel hurt, betrayed, and disrespected by this behavior. Sisters, daughters and friends are left with haunting questions: Is that what my husband/future husband wants? Can I be desirable if I don’t look like that? Must I expose myself to get the attention I crave? I hope the women of our city will refuse to passively accept the utter disrespect of men who would take them to such an establishment.
I hope The Tilted Kilt fails because the men in our city care about raising sons who are not slaves to their physical desires; sons who respect and honor women as people rather than bodies.
Ultimately, I hope that our city can prove itself to be one that honors the true, the good, and the beautiful. And despite what some may think, there is simply nothing “beautiful” about profiteers in “Sin City” paying a vulnerable young girl to expose her body while she waits on sex-hungry men.