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July 14 2015

A Slow Day at Slate: Sexist Craft Beer

Charlotte Allen

Old misogyny: microaggressions.

New misogyny: microbrew-aggressions.

Yup, over at Slate, male-feminist chin-puller Will Gordon informs us: "A lot of craft beer marketing is astonishingly sexist."

No, this not an Onion parody!

Read on:

One of the higher-profile repeat offenders is Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Maryland, maker of many dog- and dog-plus-one-more-entendre-themed beers including Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout. Both have ready-made plausible deniability baked into their origin stories. Raging Bitch is art, because Hunter S. Thompson sidekick Ralph Steadman designed the label; plus, duh, a bitch is a female dog!

Pearl Necklace’s label shows a dog wearing a necklace made out of pearls, which are found in oysters, which are used to make oyster stout. Alas, “pearl necklace” also refers to a porny sex act and, even worse, a ZZ Top song commemorating said act.

Lessons to be learned from this, according to Gordon:

1) Do not use the word "bitch" ever, even if you are actually referring to the female of the canine species.

2) Bet you had no idea that a "pearl necklace" was something from from pornography. Why that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "pearl-clutching"!

And it's interesting: To feminists, porn is supposed to be empowering--except when it can be used as a stick to beat someone over the head with. Then, it's "sexist."

Now for the sermon part of Gordon's fever-temperature article:

A lot of the off-putting labeling is due to breweries’ painful obsession with puns. When a male-dominated industry relies on a middle school rhetorical device to name beers, it’s going to come up with a lot of jokes about body parts or bodily functions, and boobs sell better than farts. And the beer industry has had to come up with tens of thousands of new product names in a short period of time. The tech world might be just as bad given the opportunity: Google only had to resist making the middle of its logo a pair of breasts once; breweries have to fight their puerile demons on a regular basis.

But the casual sexism on display on many beer labels is all the more jarring considering the progressive image cultivated by many craft beer advocates. Civic-mindedness and inclusivity play a big part in the rhetoric of new-beer evangelists. It’s not unusual for craft breweries to sponsor park cleanups, local preservation efforts, and the aforementioned charity 5Ks. This is all well and good, but it’s not very compatible with sexist beer marketing. A nascent industry heavily reliant on reputation can’t expect half of its potential customer base to overlook rampant objectification on account of the occasional public act of decency.

Here's what I say to Gordon, as a member of that "half" of the "potential customer base":

Chill, Will. Relax and have a beer.

 



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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