The shamed restaurant that added a ‘Weinstein burger’ to their menu has been told by Sheffield City Council that it ‘propagates a toxic culture’, after the University’s Feminist Society took to the city’s highest echelons to demand action.
‘Randy’s Hardcore Burgers’ was forced to remove the “intolerable” ‘Weinstein burger’ from the menu on 1 November amid global outcry, but continued to sell their ‘Fake Taxi’ and ‘Ca$ting Couch’ burgers.
In a letter to Randy’s, Councillor Jack Scott wrote: “These items demonstrably glamorise non-consensual sexual acts and in doing so, they propagate a toxic culture which objectifies women.”
Forge Press exclusively revealed after visiting the restaurant on Wednesday that it is currently forcibly closed, shrouded in darkness and “a criminal offence” to re-enter – with a legal notice from the landlord citing overdue rent payments.
The Student’s Union’s Feminist Society (FemSoc) took to Sheffield City Council this Wednesday to raise their concerns with Randy’s, after the SU’s all-women officer team – now amid their ‘16 days against gendered violence campaign’ – had remained silent on the issue for a month.
‘Promoting coercive, exploitative sexual acts’
At the City Council meeting, the society questioned what action Cllr Scott had taken since writing his letter, to which he replied that the council’s licensing team had visited the restaurant the previous day.
In her two questions to the chamber, FemSoc president Emily Doyland slammed the menu for “promoting coercive, exploitative and non-consensual sexual acts” and asked how the council’s licensing regulations could help stop the discrimination of women.
“These items demonstrably glamorise non-consensual sexual acts, propagating a toxic culture which objectifies women”
FemSoc helped draft the letter after sending their original statement, condemning ‘the Weinstein’, thought to be named after the Hollywood producer facing sexual misconduct accusations from 70 women, as “shocking and intolerable”, to the council.
Here's @SheffieldFemsoc on Wednesday calling for @SheffCouncil to act on the 'Randy's Hardcore Burgers' @randyssheff menu, which they said "promotes coercive, exploitative and non-consensual sexual acts". pic.twitter.com/N6oyB3cclU
— Forge Press (@ForgePress) December 7, 2018
Cllr Scott said the council had received “numerous complaints” about Randy’s, based in West One, near Revolution, and urged owners to remove the names “voluntarily, prior to more formal action being considered”.
“Bluntly, the names of these items are not acceptable,” he said.
The fight is not over yet
Speaking to Forge Press after the meeting, Ms Doyland said that she had been working with Mr Scott to urge that the full “inappropriate” menu undergo “a complete rethink”.
FemSoc said they were “proud of the part we played in the fight against Randy’s” and “incredibly glad” of the closure.
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“The closing down of Randy’s is one small but significant signifier that we can eradicate the normalisation of rape culture in our spaces, but we recognise the fight does not stop here.
“We stand in solidarity with all those who fight those battles…there are many fights still to be had against rape culture and sexual assault and harassment.”
The group claimed they received no response from Randy’s after sending an open letter in early November, and members of the committee had bombarded them with Facebook messages to no avail. Ms Doyland warned committee members not to visit the burger joint for fear of their safety.
Sheffield SU finally speak out after a month of silence
FemSoc said they had taken their concerns to the “receptive” council themselves, having contacted Sheffield Students’ Union multiple times to encourage, unsuccessfully, the officers to publicly speak out on the issue.
“We are grateful that we had the opportunity to work with Councillor Jack Scott and Sheffield City Council to argue against the items on the Randy’s menu. It reminds us that we as citizens have power and impact,” FemSoc added.
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After Forge Press questioned the SU’s month-long silence on the issue, and amid their current ‘16 days against gendered violence’ campaign, President Lilian Jones eventually broke the silence.
She said: “The initiative that Fem Soc have taken on this is incredibly impressive – it’s a brilliant example of student activism. The Randys menu was appalling, and any action that can make Sheffield safer for students is welcomed by the SU.”
Closed for good?
Randy’s publicly apologised for “nothing more than poor taste” after the ‘Weinstein burger’ controversy, and was publicly criticised by its sister joint in Manchester, but many on Twitter accused them of undermining the issue and called for more action.
Ms Doyland said: “The apology from the management in Manchester and Sheffield, because the Manchester one includes all the same names except ‘the Weinstein’, was that it hadn’t crossed their minds when they wrote the menu that it could be problematic, essentially continuing to mock the situation.
“I think that if you’ve got any establishment where it doesn’t cross your mind that [a burger named] ‘Fake Taxi’ could be a problem, then you need to have a rethink.
“Surely you don’t need sexual assault to sell your burgers.”
Randy’s could not be reached in person or by phone.
FemSoc floated the idea of staged sit-ins and continuing pressure on Sheffield City Council if the menu was not changed, but it is understood that the Sheffield and Manchester branches are now closed for the foreseeable future.