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Posted on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 10:35 a.m.

Craft brew, sexism - or should I just relax and have a beer?

By Patti Smith

What's a girl to do? Recently, the big push in the craft beer world is the inclusion of women. One glaring incident aside, I have always felt included in the wonderful world of craft beer.

Having said that though, I can see where there might be concern as beer has, at least in modern times, been considered a guy's thing. (It is worthwhile to note that, back in the day, the women were the brewers).

Two things have happened recently in our wonderful little world — possibly offensive beer names and possibly offensive beer bottle art.

I really do not know how to react to this, and so I am putting this out there to solicit respectful comments and thoughts.

My one brain says it’s no big deal and that we women have bigger fish to fry.

But my other brain says, "What if girls see that and think that we are only valued for our bodies and looks?"

And yet my third brain says, but aren’t we? I mean, if I had no nose, a hump on my back and four eyes, would I have the life that I do?

My one brain says that craft brewers are only doing what the macros do (remember the “twins” commercial? It couldn’t have been more obvious if it had been called, “Juggs”).

But my other brain says but maybe the macros shouldn’t rely on sex to sell their beer. Maybe they could start respecting women.

And yet my third brain points out that our society permits sex to sell things and while I am magical, I can’t fix that.

My one brain asks what does it hurt if someone uses boobs or the B word to sell beer?

And then my other brain reminds me of all of the times I’ve been called a "B" (or worse) for daring to express an opinion stronger than “boy it’s hot out here today, isn’t it?” and I wonder if casual use of the word doesn’t lend to that sort of name calling.

And yet my third brain pipes up and reminds me that I call other people "B" all the time and certainly have worn a low cut shirt a time or 11.

My one brain tells me to chill out and have a sense of humor — it’s just beer. No one is going to decide to rape someone because they see the "B" word on a bottle of beer. And besides, a female dog is a bitch, right?

And then my other brain wonders if it is a slippery slope and does violence against women start with objectification of women in society?

And yet my third brain knowingly says that the slippery slope argument is not a good one to make because it can be dangerous.

My one brain says that women are equal in so many ways now, and we should just chill and drink the dang beer.

And then my other brain says right on — we don’t need that sort of protection and besides, if we really want to “protect” women, let’s maybe start with other issues that we face, such as risk of violence/rape, less pay for equal work, sexual harassment and access to reproductive freedom.

My third brain isn’t quite sure what to say to this, as it agrees with us both. It is now flummoxed and must find a quiet place to relax.

My one brain wonders how this issue would be treated if it were naked men on the beer bottles. Or if the stereotypes were offensive to a specific ethnic group (like if they put me on the bottle, made my nose bigger and had me picking a quarter up off the ground with a big, lecherous grin on my face)?

My other brain has a feeling that the issue would be treated somewhat differently, and probably no one would be accused of “not having a sense of humor” when he/she dared to question the marketing practices.

My third brain is still off recovering from the last question and has no comment.

So I still don’t know. Are hypersexualized images of women damaging? Do they cause long term negative effects on men and women? Where does disrespect for women start and where does it end? Does it really start with a beer bottle?!

Should I even be fretting about this or should I, in the words of a wise man, just relax, stop worrying and have a homebrew?

Patti Smith enjoys making really bad jokes and drinking really good beer! Read her personal blog at



Thu, Jul 21, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

I'll be a Raging B if the fest moves out of Ypsi

Chris P. Frey

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

Ahh, rage on B! I think you and the other writers have nailed it. If it is offensive, pass on it. Craft brewers are more likely to identify and tap into more niche and interesting styles, sub-styles, or new styles, and come up with more playful, respectful, creative, edgy and interesting marketing schemes. But their budgets are dwarfed by the BudMilloors in the market place, who continue to use cold trains, frogs and yes, comely ladies to entice the masses to drink their swill. There is a crude saying out there that referes to once someone has tried something, they never come back. Well, I find it a trueism that once someone has tried and enjoyed a craft beer, they never go back to the mega swills that continue to promote sexism, mindless forays into marketing productions that are silent as to the qualities that make their beer special/interesting or some other product attribute. Give Sam Adams a lot of credit for talking about the beer!


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

I have wondered if there is some science behind beer and gender. I would gladly submit myself as a test subject. Most women I know just don't like the taste. And when you load up the cultural baggage on top of it, I think women just prefer a mixed drink, when it comes down to it. I speak from experience when I say that generally, men like the broad range of tastes that beermakers offer these days. They like beers that taste like bacon and chocolate and pot roast and cloves and maple syrup and coffee. Women, in my experience, don't like the whole beer scene. They don't like the taste, they don't like the carbs, and they can go their whole lives without ever acquiring the proverbial taste for it. Packaging matters, and I have definitely enjoyed Rogue Ales and the very tasty Arrogant Bastard. Not only are they fine products, but the packaging lends a certain air of whimsy, cleverness, and manliness. Among these cartoon beer characters, there aren't many flattering images of men either. The St. Pauli Girl is the only reason to drink the stuff, if you ask me. She's a fantasy woman! But ladies, you should fight back by drinking Samuel Adams. He's a handsome devil. A renaissance man.


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

Funny. Just last week I asked my craft brewer if he could come up with names that reflected on men. He laughed and said he would think about that. I responded ask the women who work with you. That surprised him. I'm a guy. We still look at the differences differently when it comes to men & women. There has been an attraction to the female form ever since I discovered girls were different. I think it has to do with that brain sitting on top the spinal cord. So, asking the brewer to change his thinking was asking him to control / modify the lower brain. Therefore as a consumer would I (male) be tempted to drink a beer called 'Arsenic & Lace'? Black widow? Great shoes? Wonderful hat? Lovely purse? Probably not. Inability to modify. No intention to provoke just that I think her point is well taken.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 11:21 p.m.

I think that we need not take everything so seriously. I just do not find this offensive and yes, I am a woman.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

I only drink Raging B*%#* beer a few days out of the month. Sorry... couldn't resist.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

I love craft beer. We can get as academic about this as we'd like to, but I love Tina Fey's simple advice regarding any situation in which we may be facing sexism. The advice is: Keep doing what you're doing. If you like the beer, keep drinking it. However, I'd add, if the brewer or marketing messages make you feel gross, then quit. Oddly, there's no Flying Dog to be found anywhere in the beer fridges of my male and female craft-beer-swilling (and sipping) friends. Could be a coincidence.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 5 p.m.

I just prefer to enjoy a good Heffenwiesen (SP?) or a fruity IPA...leave the sexy stuff for after and between consenting adults...

Lynn Liston

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

Interesting questions! I'm conflicted about these kinds of marketing issues, too. You want to be open-minded and look past a name or an image to the product, but on the other hand, I'm not completely comfortable saying to a waiter "I'll have a glass of *Patronizing or Dismissive Comment on Women Used as Name* beer, or "I'll take a bottle of that *beer with the embarrassing nude, over-endowed female* on the label. It is kind of a turn-off- and it is one-sided. I've yet to see a beer called *Descriptive Remark Regarding His Impressive Toolkit*. Would men feel comfortable ordering one of those or having to drink from a bottle displaying that graphic label?

Patti Smith

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

Right! Some folks on Facebook immediately brought up a commercial where women were checking out a car and a man came along and she said something about his "Package" and how therefore there is sexism against men, too. I don't think one commercial quite proves a point though. And as I said on FB, do men even feel objectified by those sorts of things?! Or are we projecting *our* feelings onto them?