An Open Letter to The Beer Wench
Your latest article on Thrillist was quite successful – I mean, it got me to drop everything I was doing to spend time to dissect it. It’s been shared many times, and it’s getting people talking.
Normally this would be good; anything that gets the general population to consider craft beer is positive for the community.
Unfortunately your article represents everything that is wrong in the beer industry.
Hanging on to old generalizations, perpetuating stereotypes, crying sexism while being sexist – these activities in no way help craft beer. Sexism, racism, homophobia, you name it, they exist in the beer culture because they exist in culture in general.
They are not unique to beer, nor are they more rampant in beer than other industries.
Know what does help? Breaking down the men-vs-women battles by encouraging everyone to work together.
The most successful women – hell, the most successful people – in any field, work their asses off to get theirs.
They don’t get worked up – or break down – every time they’re pushed down, no matter the sex of the bully. They get back up stronger, smarter, and more determined.
Maybe we should all try and help each other get up now and again – be it man, woman, black, white, troll, princess – whomever.
It’s hard enough to get a job in beer and to do a good job in beer, do we need to make it harder by reinforcing dumb stereotypes?
It’s time people, at least those in “my beer world,” know that you do NOT represent what is good in beer, that you do NOT represent a forward-thinking and open approach to the future of craft, that you are NOT speaking for all of us.
Those of us who do love beer – all of the craftsmanship, the hard work, the camaraderie, and just the plain damn deliciousness of it – we do not believe beer is so base as to be about men–vs-women. It’s not about cleavage, yours or anyone else’s.
I’d like for this to be clear: this is in no way a personal attack. It is a professional critique. You have taken on the task of being an Internet beer evangelist, therefore you are open to public attention, whether it be good or bad.
If you don’t like my take on your article…well, you’ll know how I felt when I read yours.
5 Reasons Why The Beer Wench Is Bad For Beer
1. “The Beer Wench” Name
Why do you objectify yourself by using the handle “The Beer Wench” ?
Websters Dictionary defines a wench as: a young woman; especially: a young woman who is a servant.
What are you a servant to? Beer?
Beer doesn’t need a servant, it isn’t a master.
It is an alcoholic beverage. It brings people together, builds friendships, and employs over two million people. So if anything, beer is our wench.
You call yourself a wench and also say you’re “super-femmy,” how, exactly?
If a male bartender took endless photos of the breasts belonging to women sitting at his bar, drinking beer, he would be unemployable in the industry.
But because it’s you taking photos of yourself, the objectification is okay?
2. Making Historically Ambiguous Statements
“Women invented beer, fellas, so you best recognize. The ancient Sumerians, aka the people who realized that beer was a thing, and that it was great, used to worship the goddess Ninkasi: the goddess of brewing and beer.”
According to this woman. And who knows, maybe she’s right. She’s certainly educated, and she seems highly regarded. But there isn’t incontrovertible proof, so let’s not carve her books in stone just yet.
I’m confident that women were involved in the creation of beer. Since all societies, both ancient and modern, have had to work together to achieve goals, (and trust me, getting buzzed was likely just as important 9,000 years ago as it is today) it’s safe to assume women AND men made beer.
Around the same time the ancient Sumerians were drinking, so were Babylonians, Assyrian, Egyptians, Hebrew, Chinese, and Incan.
Additionally, other peoples have their own beer gods and goddesses: Abundantia (Roman goddess of abundance), Acan (Mayan god of alcohol), Accla (Incan goddess of brewing and fire), Aegir (Norse god of brewing), Crom Dubh (Irish god of corn), Dagon (Phoenician god of wheat and grain), Harbond (Welsh goddess of abundance).
There are hundreds more. It seems every culture, every civilization, every age of man has gone out of their way to ensure that beer gets it just praise.
“goddess = vagina”
… what kind of gorilla math is that?
So god = penis, then?
Seems like you’ve way oversimplified things here. Countless gods and goddesses across numerous religions are now simply a collection of all-powerful genitals, and nothing more?
That’s not going to set back anyone’s thinking.
3. Perpetuating The Very Sexism That You Claim To Be Railing Against.
By writing a column about men telling lies about women and beer, you’re giving these lies credibility. You’re giving them attention.
Which would be bad enough… IF these even were common statements made by men.
Which they are NOT!
“All women are on diets, and that’s why we don’t drink beer”
I’ve not heard a man comment on a woman’s weight since…ever.
Seriously, men don’t say dumb shit like this. Honestly.
Moreover, I think it’s safe to say that most people are watching their weight these days. Not just fit into a smaller size, or to get a date, or to look super cute for their daily selfies, but for health reasons.
“The Truth: Some of us don’t hate ourselves”
So…people (I’m not even going to dignify this with using just “women” here) that are dieting, they hate themselves?
That’s a lot of hate.
That’s $27 billion dollars annually of self-hatred in the United States alone.
I’ve worked with, been friends with, and done business with men and women in the bar industry (i.e. beer world) since 1993. Some of these statements were occasionally thrown out there many, many years ago, but even then it was rare.
Also, you can’t cry sexism, then call beer the drink of only a “manly man.”
Is that a man that can take apart a motorcycle carburetor and put it back together in working order? Because I can name three ladies, myself included, that can tune up that Yamaha for you. And I can name plenty of men that can’t.
Are they not “manly men?”
Do they, therefore, not get to like beer?
4. Attacking the People That Employ Her.
“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.”
And then you go even further down the vapid rabbit hole…
“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.”
You’ve lost me here…do you want these geeks to follow you on Instagram or don’t you?
And do you want to admit you are exploiting your boobs for likes or don’t you?
Here’s something I’ve learned: fans of beer are incredibly loyal, to their favorite bar, brewery, beer. Sure, they’re nerds. They’re excited. And sure, a few of them are assholes.
Like in real life, there are jerks everywhere, there are pigs everywhere. But if you can’t take it and if you don’t like the trolling, stay off the bridge. You’ve made yourself a public figure – you don’t get to be an “Internet beer evangelist” and a “social media maven” (your words) then get upset when people feel differently than you.
“Let’s face it, (male) beer fanatics aren’t exactly renowned for having strong social skills and dashing good looks.”
I spend 70+ hours a week in the company of beer fans, in my own bar, at beer events, breweries, having beers at someone else’s bar.
Overall, they are not an unattractive bunch. And they are social. They have beers together, they form tasting meetings, they go on brewery tours together, they join running clubs that finish in bars, they attend charity events that feature beer as the main attraction.
See, if you give people a few minutes to talk, they’ll move on from the easy conversation (beer) and start having an actual conversation. By giving people time to talk, I’ve met some of the most interesting people I’ve ever known: people that have crazy jobs, that are eager to help others, and that are genuinely nice.
All of these things combined with an average looking beer fan make for a dashing good-looking person, in my opinion.
Stop shitting on the people that pay your bills, and stop lumping them into one-size-fits-all categories. They’re people, as diverse as any other set you could find anywhere in the world.
5. Using the Phrase “Gateway Beer” and Generally Making Bad Suggestions.
“Women love fruity sweet shit, so you should start them with beers like that.”
“Women can’t handle bitterness”
Said no one. Ever.
“The Truth: You’re stupid”
Finally we’re saying the same things… I found myself muttering something similar throughout your entire piece.
Everyone’s palate is different. Instead of saying that some beers are better than others to start with, how about we try to find them the best beer for their palate?
Here’s the best way to get into beer: go to a bar with a decently built draft list. (This means quality, not quantity.)
Have a seat at the bar and describe to the bartender some things you do like to eat, drink, etc.
He or she will take it from there.
In closing, I’m sorry you have had such bad experiences in beer. Maybe you should try hanging out at different bars, with different people. If you’re ever in Chicago come on by, I’ll buy you a beer. And sell you a shirt.
Kate Gallagher Owner – Northdown Chicago