The Hootananny pub in Inverness announced its male servers will no longer be wearing kilts, similar to these worn by military officers, after harassment from female customers. Photo by Mark Atkins/Shutterstock
INVERNESS, Scotland, July 13 (UPI) -- A popular Scottish pub known for its traditional atmosphere announced its male bar staff are switching from kilts to pants after repeated harassment from female patrons.
Kit Fraser, owner of the Hootananny pub in Inverness, said male workers used to wear kilts as part of the pub's traditional theme, which also includes frequent live performances of traditional Scottish music. But they are now donning pants to protect them from women who would lift their kilts to check whether they were "true Scotsmen."
"You get large groups of drinking women circling around when you are collecting glasses and asking whether you are true Scotsman -- and they find out for themselves," Iain Howie, assistant manager of Hootananny, told the Inverness Courier. "The first few times it is funny. But when it is really busy and everyone has to work fast and hard, and your hands are full of glasses, you feel quite vulnerable."
"You are thinking, 'Are you going to get broken glasses, or is your kilt going to get lifted up again?' They see it as a bit of fun, but it is a bit of an embarrassment," Howie said.
Fraser described the incidents as "pure sexism."
"It may seem funny but it is serious, too -- the women are sticking their hands up their kilts," Fraser said. "Can you imagine if I went into a restaurant and stuck my hand up a girl's skirt? I would be taken to the police station and rightly so."
"I look after my customers but equally important are my staff. I am not forcing them to do something they don't want to do," he said. "We fellows are very, very aware of sexism. I think the women need to catch up."
The move from kilts to pants was applauded in a post on the pub's Facebook page.
"I wanted to thank Kit Fraser for taking care of his staff as well as customers," Linda Kiff wrote. "I worked in a bar years ago and still feel humiliated by all the groping I had to put up with. It's NO different just because the genders are switched around. I hope the bouncers can take care of the drunk women, or, if all else fails, a tray edge right in the adam's apple used to help me!"
The Scottish government released a statement criticizing the misbehaving customers.
"Everybody in Scotland should have the right to work without fear of harassment, and it is important management in all working environments do what they can to ensure this happens," the statement said.