North Texas Daily

Women share experiences working as female bartenders

Women share experiences working as female bartenders

Women share experiences working as female bartenders
August 31
13:00 2018

A typical night for 22-year-old bartender Casey Lummus ends at 3:30 a.m. when the crowds leave and the dishes are cleaned. By noon the next day, she is teaching her pre-K class. Bartending is a job that offers her flexibility and balance throughout the week.

“It works really well for me since over the summer it’s allowed me to teach,” Lummus said. “I get work experience for my future, but I can also do this thing I really enjoy.”

Lummus works at Cool Beans, one of the bars on Fry Street. that she describes as a “dysfunctional family.” For Lummus, it is where everyone knows each other, especially at “sister bars” Riprocks and Lucky Lou’s.

“We all look out for each other,” Lummus said.  “If something happens at Lou’s, they will call us and warn us.”

She feels safe in her place of work but is often subject to verbal harassment, mostly from men.

Every bartender works “door duty,” the first line of security into the bar. When Lummus would take her post, she said men would stand next to her, flirt with her and try to get her number

“I think the common misconception is that it is a social job, but not when you are working as security,” Lummus said.

Compared to when she started bartending at age 20, Lummus is not afraid to defend not only herself but her customers as well.

Making the bar a safe space for her customers is her priority.

“I’ve had female customers come up to me and tell me they’re uncomfortable, and I just say, ‘Tell me who and come sit up here with me,’” Lummus said. “It’s my obligation to make this bar a safe place and the moment it becomes unsafe, I need to do something about it.”

Despite her determination, Lummus faces uncomfortable encounters herself.

“Some people tell me that I’m the same age as their daughter and it’s a good thing I’m not related to them,” Lummus said. “Another guy said, ‘I may be saying this because I’ve had a little bit [too much to] drink but your boobs look great.’”

In her mind, the exchange of cruel words is what hurts the most. Once, after removing a customer who had been causing trouble, she was cursed out.

“He said, ‘This c–t is telling me it’s time to go,’ and from across the street he would point at me and call me a ‘b—h,’” Lummus said. “Those words are explicitly directed at my gender. You’re picking me out as a female and trying to make me feel vulnerable.”

Another time, Lummus removed a group of men who had too many drinks and were refusing to leave the bar.

“They said, ‘Oh, well you’re just being sexist’ and grabbed their crotch and were looking at me,” Lummus said. “It’s so hard to keep your cool, but I think the more rational I stay about it, the more I make my point.”

Lummus said she is fortunate to have not experienced that much physical harassment but has been groped once.

“I carry my ice bucket with one hand so I can swat people with the other,” Lummus said. “It’s strange how comfortable people get and don’t see the consequence for touching me and entering my personal space.”

If the situation involved a male bartender, Lummus said the outcome would be different.

“I think for men it would be more about butting heads, but they put me in a position where I feel vulnerable, sexualized and uncomfortable,” Lummus said. “I know these guys aren’t doing anything since I have my staff right behind me.”

Despite it all, Lummus said she enjoys bartending because unlike other jobs in the service industry, she has the power to tell problematic customers to leave her alone.

“I’ve served for years and I never had that ability until bartending,” Lummus said. “I never walk into my job and feel unsafe.”

Cool Beans bartender Kristin Wyly discusses the issues she’s dealt with as a female bartender Thursday afternoon. Jordan Collard

Kristin Wyly and Cameron Trevino

Twenty-seven-year-old Kristin Wyly, a coworker of Lummus, said that her bad experiences have not been at Cool Beans but at a hotel.

“I didn’t like the corporate culture of how you’re supposed to be nice to people no matter how they treat you,” Wyly said. “I wish more people realized that just because I’m being nice to you, doesn’t mean I’m flirting.”

Wyly’s fiancé, 28-year-old Cameron Trevino, bartends at Paschall Bar. From his perspective, bartenders are the eyes and ears of any establishment — they see every interaction that takes place. As a result, he says he tries to step in whenever any of his female coworkers or customers are being harassed.

“I can always see the body language of women or men, but some people just don’t get it,” Trevino said. “I’ve had two girls before who had to hide in the bathroom while I had to kick someone out.”

Trevino said that de-escalating a situation is the most rational way to handle issues, especially when people are inebriated.

“I’ve had two instances where there was a man going up to every single girl at the bar trying his luck,” Trevino said.

The man attempted to flirt twice with Wyly, who was sitting and reading at the bar.

“The moment he made his way up to her again and put his hand on her I told him, ‘Get out right now,’” Trevino said. “This guy is a foot taller than me and twice my weight. You could tell everybody was thinking I was about to get punched in the face.”

TeAmbriel Washington

21-year-old TeAmbriel Washington bartends at the Radius Gold Bar in Dallas. Her managers and coworkers are considerate but experience the same issues as Lummus and Wyly.

“When you work in a business like that, people say to be flirty and nice,” Washington said. “Even if I am just being myself, that’s a part of my job. I can’t be rude to you.”

Washington said a real man knows  how to respect, treat and talk to a woman. There have been times when men didn’t know how to control themselves.

“Everything is sexualized, [and] my body is always being talked about,” Washington said. “Guys ask me to twirl around. Since this is a job, it’s almost like you have to put up with it.”

Washington said she has not felt completely unsafe but knows she must remain cautious.

“You never know what someone’s intentions are,” Washington said. “I always make sure nobody’s following me when I go to my car.”

For those hitting Fry Street, bartenders offer a word of advice.

“Be observant, be considerate [and] be respectful,” Trevino said. “If they say ‘no’ the first time, don’t try to convince them because you’re not only making the woman uncomfortable, but you’re making the climate uncomfortable, too.”

Featured Image: Cool Beans bartender Casey Lummus serves a margarita on her night shift Thursday night. Jordan Collard

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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