The summer of slow blogging continues, and today’s anemic offering is a brief rebuttal to this silly article in Slate about sexism, rife in brewing, in which the subhead reads “There are gross puns and derogatory illustrations on far too many beer labels. The misogyny needs to stop.” Writer Will Gordon trots through the case of some pretty egregious examples of sexism, but not, however, very many of them–and herein lies the problem. The existence of something does not make it a problem.
Take for example the case of Irvine, CA, which had two murders in 2013 (I can’t find 2014 numbers, but this is an example so 2013 will suffice). The number of murders we consider acceptable is zero, of course, but at what point does the murder rate become a problem; you know, a situation that needs to be corrected as opposed to a situation of imperfection that is the state of the real world? It’s a lot more than two, that’s for sure, because in 2013, Irvine had the fewest murders of any large city in America.
Craft brewing (accepting this as a market segment if nothing else) has around 3,500 members making something on the order of + / – 50,000 different beer brands. Would we expect none of these breweries to be making products that are sexist? At what point does the sexism become a problem? You see the issue here.
Weirdly, Gordon acknowledges how integrated women are into this beer segment, citing craft beer’s civic-mindedness and female consumption rates and cicerone memberships as evidence of how well it’s doing. So the point is? Right: clicks. (Slate has made a business trying to write contrarian articles to drive traffic, with at least as many misses as hits. Put this in the swing-and-a-miss column.)
Obviously, sexist beer labels are worthy of contempt and the breweries that made them, of opprobrium. But their mere existence doesn’t illustrate that, as the title of this article claimed, craft brewing has a sexism problem. The article actually manages to prove the opposite; if you can’t come up with any more than a few examples out of the tens of thousands of possible cases, you’ve illustrated there’s actually no problem at all.