Row erupts over Japanese-inspired ‘maid cafe’ where waitresses wear short-skirted manga-style uniforms as critics brand it ‘Hooters for incels’
- A councillor has criticised a Japanese-themed ‘maid cafe’ in Manchester
- The cafe where staff wear anime maid uniforms was called ‘Hooters for incels’
The owners of a Japanese-inspired ‘maid cafe’ in Manchester have hit back after a Labour councillor called it ‘disgusting’ and others branded it ‘Hooters for incels’.
Councillor Joanne Harding said Animaid Cafe, based at Afflecks, an indoor market of independent traders in the city’s Northern Quarter, made her ‘fresh [sic] crawl’.
Staff at the Japanese-themed cafe wear anime-style uniforms, which have attracted criticism.
Cllr Harding, who represents the Urmston ward on Trafford Council, tweeted: ‘What fresh hell is this in Manchester?
The Animaid Cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is a Japenese-themed anime-style venue
The outfits worn by staff at the cafe attracted criticism from a councillor in the area
‘A “maid cafe” – No touching or asking to touch the maids. We have a gender based violence strategy and ask “is this ok?” – this makes my fresh [sic] crawl.’
Many others weighed in as one follower branded the cafe ‘Hooters for incels’, to which Harding replied: ‘It’s disgusting. If you’ve got to have a sign up saying don’t touch the maids, there might be an issue. Women dressing in skimpy clothes, acting subserviently – what’s not to love.’
But the cafe’s owners have said the rules – including not touching the maids or distracting them while they work – are in place to empower staff and keep them safe.
Vic Littley, one of the cafe’s managers, said: ‘It was out of the blue and just felt derogatory. Most of the staff are young women – the post has been done with no grasp of what we actually are.
‘We are a themed cafe where people can play board games, watch anime, sit and talk, study. We are not like how they are trying to portray us; we’re a bubble tea anime-themed cafe.’
‘Maid cafes’ in Japan are just one of a host of popular cosplay and themed venues, with the first opening in Tokyo in 2001.
Waitresses wear maid dresses, often in Victorian style, though updated for the modern era and Manga cartoons, with shorter skirts.
They differ starkly from the concept of Japanese hostess clubs, which open at night.
Photos are not permitted and the onus is on food and service, with the cafe’s customers being mostly young people and families.
Ms Littley said: ‘We’re a family-friendly place and do many events days for families. A lot of our customers are families who always come together who love anime.
The cafe argued: ‘We are just wanting to be a safe place for anyone who wants to come’
‘We’re just not sure why they’ve [Cllr Harding] decided to post like that. They are rules that should be in place everywhere across every industry.
‘We have made them clear at the door for the peace of mind of our staff and anyone else. It’s to empower and support our staff that if anything does happen that makes them feel uncomfortable they have the rules to back them up.
‘The post was just very aggressive and not what we are about at all… It invited people to comment that we are some sort of fetish venue but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Afflecks is known as a place that is diverse, open, and welcoming for everyone.
‘Half the rules are completely normal and happen everywhere, such as not distracting staff when we’re really busy. We are just wanting to be a safe place for anyone who wants to come.
‘The post seemed like an excuse to allow people to make up their own minds about the cafe before looking into anything that we are about. We’re no different to other themed cafes, like the cat cafe or gaming cafes that are popular everywhere.
‘It’s a community of people who get made fun of a lot as it is which is why the post was sad to see. People who feel left out come here and make friends which is very positive.’
AJ Martyn, general manager at Afflecks: ‘Afflecks is proud to be an inclusive space where we welcome all cultures and subcultures. The independently owned Animaid Cafe here on the 2nd floor has become a welcoming hub for the anime community and a popular and positive environment for all.’
In a statement, Cllr Harding, Trafford Council’s executive member for culture, leisure and strategic partnerships, said: ‘I am not lobbying at all for this cafe to be closed.
‘I am supportive of small independent business, at no point have I suggested I want this establishment to close.
‘I am also not about preventing young people from meeting and having fun. I am about the safety of women and girls in Greater Manchester in line with our Gender Based Violence Strategy.’
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