Session #81: Women in Beer Culture

00-thesession150

I’m doing The Session again the month, the thing where on the first Friday of every month beer bloggers writer about the same topic. This month it’s “Scary Beer Feminists,” hosted by Nicole at Tasting Nitch.

I have a two-parter because I wrote this first part last week but hadn’t posted it yet. The second part I wrote tonight.

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The Drinking Game!

I stumbled on this blog the other week about those irritating stories in which a woman does normal, people things (drives a truck! is a scientist! brews beer!) and the reporter writes about it as if it’s a strange and incredible thing . There’s been an influx of articles lately about women brewing or drinking craft beer as if it’s a revelation, when really it’s not so crazy that women like to drink beer and maybe sometimes even work in the industry too. It’s nice to get good press, especially for groups like Pink Boots, and I myself am guilty of writing one of these types of stories once, but the general trend pieces are starting to grate.

So! I made a handy drinking game to play along with these stories. Drink every time the story includes one of the following. (Even you women–I hear you drink beer these days!)

  • Mention of women being the original brewers (but with little to no actual history/facts involved)
  • Women like beer because:
  •          a) it’s the new wine
  •          b) it goes well with food and women like to cook and artisan cheese too
  •          c) it’s no longer marketed just to men with scantily clad babes
    but definitely not because
  •          d) it tastes good
  • But seriously: how do lady brewers lift those heavy kegs?
  • Quote from Teri Fahrendor, head of Pink Boots Society (whom I do admire greatly)
  • The classic “Five Arbitrary Women Who Work in the Beer Industry of this City/Region” piece
  • Did you know that some women can actually taste beer pretty good because there is a higher percentage of women supertasters than men?
  • Shotgun: cheesy women/beer/hop pun.

On a more serious, less snarky note: women in beer culture is an important topic to me because I am a feminist and this is the industry I work and live in so I end up running into the intersection often. The general consensus seems to be that women, as brewers and drinkers, should not be treated any differently than men. Which is great, but it’s one thing to say it and another to actually take steps to see it through or to advocate for it. Here are a few suggestions I came up with. (Back to the list format!)

  • Breweries: Think twice before putting a busty, sexy, scantily clad woman on your beer labels. Even if you didn’t consciously do it, it objectifies women solely as sexual objects to be ogled. We are more than that and beer labels should reflect that. Also, it’s lazy, boring and dated.
  • Journalists: Less coverage of fluffy trend pieces about women in beer and writing about them as if they’re a novelty. (See above)
  • Everyone: Stop assuming that, even without knowing a woman’s taste at all, a woman would enjoy the wheat beer or the fruit beer or a cider or anything that’s not too hoppy. You don’t know her taste any better than you do a random dude’s and the condescension and assumption is tiresome. When a woman asks for a suggestion at a bar/brewery/festival, answer her like you would any guy.
  • Women: Don’t underestimate what you know about beer. Ask questions, stay curious, stand your ground.

Have a lot more to say on the subject, but figured I’d keep it brief for now. Cheers to women and beer and all that.

Edited to add great points from commenters:

Alicia: 

For brewers: reflect on your company culture and enact company policies that embrace diversity among employees. Go out of your way to recruit and hire women. Commit to equal pay for equal work.

For journalists: don’t just not write fluff pieces, but write hard-hitting pieces on sexism in the craft beer industry. Ask harder questions: WHY aren’t more women working at breweries? In what ways have brewers alienated women from the industry? What social/cultural/economic factors are at play here?

Everyone: stop portraying white dudes with beards as the epitome of craft beer culture. Why would women or people of color feel drawn to an environment that tells them they’re outside the norm? You can unintentionally alienate people even if you don’t explicitly say “you’re not welcome here.”

Erica: 

I would like to point out that these should be applied to homebrew stores as well. When I go in with a guy, I often find the people who work there talking to the guy and completely overlooking me even if they know nothing about what ingredients we need, how to brew, etc.

@newaitress:

I’m a restaurant server and I’m so tired of customers acting surprised when I can discuss beer with them. And so very true about not assuming women are going to gravitate towards the Harpoon Raspberry or Angry Orchard. Some do, but so do some men! Definitely keep the conversation going about it.

 

7 comments

  1. Snarky + serious is the way to go! I think the list of suggestions could go on and on. Things I would add would be…

    For brewers: reflect on your company culture and enact company policies that embrace diversity among employees. Go out of your way to recruit and hire women. Commit to equal pay for equal work.

    For journalists: don’t just not write fluff pieces, but write hard-hitting pieces on sexism in the craft beer industry. Ask harder questions: WHY aren’t more women working at breweries? In what ways have brewers alienated women from the industry? What social/cultural/economic factors are at play here?

    Everyone: stop portraying white dudes with beards as the epitome of craft beer culture. Why would women or people of color feel drawn to an environment that tells them they’re outside the norm? You can unintentionally alienate people even if you don’t explicitly say “you’re not welcome here.”

  2. Great points Alicia! I especially like the last one as the beer industry embraces the idea of a white bearded dude as the cliche brewer, and we may not think about the consequences of that. Let’s keep this list going and spreading the word.

  3. “Don’t underestimate what you know [about beer]. Ask questions, stay curious, stand your ground.” This is just good advice, regardless of gender or industry.

  4. Great points Heather and Alicia!

    I would like to point out that these should be applied to homebrew stores as well. When I go in with a guy, I often find the people who work there talking to the guy and completely overlooking me even if they know nothing about what ingredients we need, how to brew, etc.

    1. Great point, Erica. I’d also love to see more women homebrewing, since that’s where the majority of professional brewers come from too.

  5. @newaitress · · Reply

    What a wonderful article. I’m a restaurant server and I’m so tired of customers acting surprised when I can discuss beer with them. And so very true about not assuming women are going to gravitate towards the Harpoon Raspberry or Angry Orchard. Some do, but so do some men! Definitely keep the conversation going about it.

  6. […] also master of list making and a fucking riot! If you haven’t tried her drinking game, than give it a try. From now on when I read through the Session #81 posts I’m playing that game; fun with […]

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