Another day, another couple of outrageously offensive beer labels.
If your first reaction to that sentence is:
- “Are you surprised?”
- “Why do you care about beer labels when there are starving children?”
- “If you don’t like it, don’t buy their beer!”
… then you might be sexist too.
Don’t like hearing that you might be part of the problem? I don’t like having to say it! But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t (and won’t) call out each and every time I see this happening. Because it will happen again. And again. And again…
Yesterday, it was Acoustic Ales (who deleted the above Facebook post after multiple negative comments and has not confirmed whether or not they still plan to print the labels). Tomorrow, it will be someone else. But let’s focus on this case.
When contacted for comment, Acoustic Ales replied with this statement:
“We appreciate the feedback from people and would say it’s a bit disheartening as we, in no way, had any intentions of offending anyone or support sexism of any sort, as some of the feedback would suggest.
We have used the same artist for years and have always used our label art to depict the utmost positive portrayals of our love for all aspects of art, music, life & craft beer and how they all interact.
This comes at a time when the these types of topics are very much a hot button in the media and in no way should this be taken as a reflection of what we are about as a brewery.”
I truly can’t believe that in 2017 we’re still having this conversation, as though there’s some mystery as to what’s sexist or not nowadays. Then again, with Trump’s “grab-em-by-the-pussy” ethos, the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein, and the seemingly never-ending list of other sexists and literal rapists in positions of power, the only surprising thing is how unsurprising it is when this kind of violent behavior gets the go-ahead.
Allow me to elaborate on what I mean by “violent”. Can a beer label physically hurt me? No. But does the cultural acceptance of objectifying women create a society where women are not valued lead to actual physical assault? 100% yes. This is rape culture at its finest, and it has no place anywhere — including the beer industry. Even the Brewers Association thinks so; they updated their Marketing and Advertising Code earlier this year to specifically discourage this type of buffoonery. Even Canada has joined in the condemnation of sexism on labels. Whether or not breweries around the world, craft or otherwise, continue to take this issue lightly remains to be seen.
Not supporting a brewery with sexist or racist imagery is not enough. Ignoring things that offend reasonable people is not enough. Pointing to other breweries who have done the same thing is not enough (and frankly, doesn’t excuse anyone). Saying “it’s just a joke” is ludicrous. Commenting on the quality of their beer is completely beside the point. Identifying women who aren’t offended is absurd. Publicly calling out breweries and owners for their detrimental marketing is the only way to hold them accountable, especially habitual offenders.
I’m so, so tired of having to police this type of behavior. But being unaware of what is or is not damaging is no longer an excuse. If you aren’t actively part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.
Beth Demmon is a San Diego-based food & drink writer who loves craft beer and motorcycles (not necessarily enjoyed together). View her work at bethdemmon.com or follow her on Instagram at @thedelightedbite.
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