Okay, so up until now you have just expected no-nonsense (or at least relative levels of nonsense) reviews that give the reader a general idea of if they would like it, and what they would encounter. Today, I want to tackle a much grander issue; it’s one in the realm of beer journalism. Recently there was an attention-garnering post from “The Beer Wench”, who shall remain an unnamed employee of Green Flash (toward whom I bear no animosity). This isn’t going to be a tirade dissecting their audience-blaming, validation-seeking rant. Just a commentary on the journalism itself.
Upon opening the link, we are greeted with the title “6 DIRTY LIES MEN SPREAD ABOUT WOMEN AND BEER”. Immediately, you know it won’t be a completely fair and balanced account of one person’s experiences, but let’s keep going. Because being offended does not mark the end of the journalistic trail.
The overarching style of the entire entry is that of one blaming “you”, which is really blaming the reader. I may not have had the most exquisite teachers my entire college career but I did have the pleasure of being under the tutelage of a great English professor who taught us “when you say ‘you’, you automatically insert your reader into that situation.” So whenever I read a “you,” I – as the reader – assume they mean me. Let’s take a look at the first paragraph, where we find a violation of this “rule”. It’s not really a rule, just a way of interpreting and proofing, so that you don’t alienate an audience. To quote this first paragraph: “I’ve had it up to here with articles written by you (men), presumably targeted to other yous (also men), discussing how to get women to drink beer. Are these articles condescending and offensive? Absolutely! But also, they’re almost always flat-out wrong.” Immediately you see that it is male-targeted. It makes a cheap apologetic stance before again condemning men, but offers no real hope or positive light for any male reader up to this point. As a journalist, reaching out to the beer community, you can’t afford to alienate any large segment of audience. This is the initial stumble in the article, and we will now exam the rest.
“And as both a member of the va-jay-jay club and someone who sells and writes about beer for a living, my ego thinks that I’m the perfect person to address the fallacies in the most common “how to get your woman to drink beer” argument. Here we go.” Aside from all the other gender and privilege and whatever arguments could be made, what I take away from this paragraph (which prefaces their entire article) is that “Hi, I’m a genetic woman and now I will school you on each and every genetic woman because I speak for all of them.” If this is not the case, let me know, it just seems authoritarian to assume one thing or another for the entire female population.
According to the world’s most accessible and editable resource, Wikipedia, “In ancient Mesopotamia, clay tablets indicate that brewing was a fairly well respected occupation during the time, and that the majority of brewers were probably women. Indeed, the brewer’s craft was the only profession in Mesopotamia which derived social sanction and divine protection from female deities/goddesses, specifically: Ninkasi, who covered the production of beer, Siris, who was used in a metonymic way to refer to beer, and Siduri, who covered the enjoyment of beer.” This is great! Shouldn’t this be a way of incorporating women and men into the same brewing system that produces what we love? Instead the writer chooses this to be a pivotal “US vs THEM” point. That’s not what beer is about, we want everyone to discover and enjoy all of the beers possible. I don’t care who brewed it first, who was the first patron saint or the overlooking deity, and I definitely don’t care who maintains the tradition. Tasty beer is tasty beer and should be enjoyed by all.
My second critique comes not in the form of facts or statistics but writing style. My previously mentioned English teacher taught us all that “when you use ‘you’, it places the reader in the position of the context.” Essentially, only use “you” when you mean to actually point out specific people or a person. This article forsakes that in the stead of blaming most of the male population when it espouses: “Lie #2: Women are afraid of beer
The Truth: It’s not us; it’s (probably) you
Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mr. Extreme Beer Geek that spends his days and nights trolling beer pictures on Instagram, desperately searching for every opportunity to belittle and bully all of us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed craft beer cheerleaders because you didn’t get enough love as a child. It’s not our fault that we were born with boobs and get more likes on one beer selfie than you will on hundreds of photos over the course of a year –regardless of how many rare beer pics you post.
Let’s face it, (male) beer fanatics aren’t exactly renowned for having strong social skills and dashing good looks.” The first thing I want to tackle here is the use of “you.” When you’re a responsible journalist and you use “you” what you’re doing is placing the reader in that exact moment. It can be appropriate, but in this situation, what it does is place every reader in the position of a judgmental male beer aficionado that may or may not exist to serve the purpose of belittling a female reader. Not only is this offensive, but a cheap piece of journalism attributing a failing demographic to every male reader of the article. Remember: WHEN YOU SAY “YOU,” YOU PUT THE READER IN THAT POSITION.
The next part is just juxtaposition and clickbait so I’ll browse over it with the least amount of words it deserves: “Sure, some chicks might have an irrational fear of beer because they think it’s going to make them fat. And hmmmm, I wonder who’s to blame for that? (Yep, looking at you Beer Belly Man.)” Yup, an excess of calories (of which beer has more than most liquors) is again men’s fault, even though we can’t get women to drink beer? Though when they do they immediately get fat because….men?
This next one is essentially the false-equivalency, and what I really just want to attribute to a negative experience leaking through the author’s publication. ”
Lie #4: Women love fruity sweet shit, so you should start them with beers like that
The Truth: Fruit beers are terrible “gateway beers,” so that makes no sense
I’m not sure when and where this “women only drink fruit and wheat beers” stereotype came to be, but unfortunately I understand the thought process behind it. Obviously, women are the fairer sex and therefore we have delicate palates that cannot handle anything too abrasive or we will melt. Plus, we love, like love, fruity sweet shit. RIGHT?!?!
Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love me a good fruit beer. But calling a fruit beer a gateway beer is like calling an appletini a gateway cocktail. Both are essentially a gateway to nothing. You can’t just jump from super-fruity strawberry shandy to an aggressively bitter double IPA, just like you can’t just jump from a disgustingly sweet cosmo monster variant to a Manhattan.” Let’s start with just the fruity beer part. I think everyone knows at least one person (be they female or male) that needs to start with something more palatable. I can throw the same lack of data out there, but I won’t, I will just say that *IF* someone prefers lighter and fruity beers, let that be their gateway into the craft beer world. Start from there and lambics, hefeweizens, witbeirs, etc. There’s nothing wrong with preferring a certain type of beer, and if it happens to be fruity, let that be your entrance. We’re all here because we love beer. If you find one that you love, let us expand upon that, instead of contributing your taste profile to The Patriarchy©.
Assumptions. I assume you can read English, and that’s as far as I’m going to get, because other than that, I don’t need to alienate my audience. Unlike the segment where women like: “Coffee, tea, dark chocolate, red wine, kale, broccoli, olives — all of these are highly awesome bitter things that most women love. And if we can handle coffee and kale, I’m pretty sure we can handle your coffee-like roasted malts and your resin-like hops, thank you very much.” The author of this previously quoted section also penned the part where women don’t all love fruity beer. So if women don’t intrinsically like fruity beer and we can’t make the judgment that it is what they would enjoy drinking, what makes the author the supreme authority to say that “most women love,” things like kale and coffee and olives?
THE END: It appears that the beer community is not immune to both clickbait and personal tirades. Personally, I just want people to find and enjoy beer that they can love for the rest of their lives. Whether it’s a woman drinking a raspberry ale or a retired lumberjack drinking a sextuple-hopped DIPA, I want you to find the thing that makes you happy. Drink the beer that makes you happy, and make memories.
I hope you came away with at least one positive thing here, and as always, drink what you like. Just don’t tell certain Green Flash employees 😉
Thank you from BeerAwesome.
JOHN CURRY LEE V