We need to talk about sexism in beer

This post is one of those rare occasions when I feel the need to write about an issue on my blog. Generally, I focus on sharing places I’ve been and liked as I’ve always felt that if there’s something I’m not a fan of, I’d rather give them no publicity whatsoever rather than negativity. But, that’s digressing. I predominately choose not to write thought pieces about issues relating to the beer world as, more often than not, there are other, more informed commentators who do a much better job of it than I could.

But there is an issue I can write about quite easily, and that’s sexism. Now, it’s become a bit of a talking point recently because of blog posts by two bloggers who definitely don’t shy away from the issues – first off Mark Johnson with his two posts about his girlfriend’s experience with an odious character and a follow-up about the debate at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival last month, and now Peter Alexander aka Tandleman has published a response to the points raised in Mark’s blog. I’m not making a judgement on who is right and who is wrong, that’s not the purpose of this post.

However, I am happy that sexism in beer IS being talked about – and as the world enters some very uncertain times with a misogynist in power one of the largest and most influential countries on Earth, it’s more important than ever to fight it in any way, shape or form. OK, debating pump clips or and attitudes stuck in the 1970s may not be as important as discussing FGM or the issues that stop girls in some parts of the world from getting an education, but any way we can try and change attitudes is important.

I’ve never been afraid to call out sexism. I’ve often worked in very male dominated workplaces and there have been occasions when I’ve had to challenge people because of their comments or flag them up with higher ups because if you don’t do this, those who make the sexist comments will never learn from it and will think it’s all fine and dandy to say them. I have no qualms about this. I’ve argued with people in pubs because they’ve felt that it’s fine to call me ‘babe’ when their aim is to patronise me and I’m happy to point out how ridiculous brands look when they try to imply that beer is a man’s drink and the ladies should stick to their fruit-based drinks.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of comments at beer events. I’ve had ridiculous questions put to me while paying into a CAMRA beer festival such as “Oh, are you going to try some beer?” and at the last MBCF we moved tables as I couldn’t listen to the sexist drivel some fellow patrons were spouting. So sexism is out there, and it’s very real. Follow #everydaysexism on Twitter and you see the crap that women receive on a daily basis.

It is worth talking about. Why do some people still have these outdated ideas? What can influential groups and organisations including CAMRA do about it? Why, in the year 2017, are some breweries still trying to sell beer by putting buxom ladies on a pump clip? And, most importantly, how can we fight it?

Things are getting better. But there’s still much more to be done and I for one want to see the debate continue. The recent blog posts have got people talking and have raised awareness. The more people that talk about it, the more attention it gets and the more likely it is that those who think it’s OK to be sexist will think twice about holding on to these sorts of prejudices.

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