Last time I went off ranting and raving, I actually (and accidentally) got noticed for it. So in the interest in learning from my mistakes I want to state up front that:
- I am a white, heterosexual, cis-gender male
- I was not in attendance at the Craft Brewers’ Conference (CBC) in Portand, OR
- I am really, really tired of having this discussion, bros
I follow a lot of beer nerds, geeks, dweebs, and various other beer-related non-norms on the Twitter. One of them, Carla Jean Lauter aka The Beer Babe*, tweeted this into my feed on Friday Night:
The hullabullow, which you can read a balanced take on here, involves craft breweries holding their events for CBC at strip clubs in the Portland area. On its face, this is obvious sexism at its most tone-deaf and basic. But… There’s a bit of nuance when you realize, holy shit Portland has a ton of strip clubs. Here in Puritan-founded Massachusetts, our favorite strip club is located in Rhode Island, so I’ll be forgiving and say that there is an aspect of cultural difference that may account for these events. And naturally Portlandians pride themselves on their craft beer almost as much as their fixies and ironic facial hair, so I don’t doubt that Portland’s strip clubs boast a more impressive beer selection than that BYOB joint we took Tim for his bachelor party.
There’s your argument that “this is not a big deal.”
Counter-argument: this is an industry business conference, not my shithead friend’s bachelor party in seedy-as-fuck Atlantic City. Look, I have no intention on getting on a high – or even medium-sized – horse about strip clubs and what they say about us as a society. I am much a feminist as Craig Grebeck was a professional baseball player (i.e. sure, I guess so, if you use the simplest, most basic, and loosest definition, then fine), so I don’t intended to make this about a larger societal issue.** But the Craft Beer Industry doesn’t exactly have a great track record with women. From off-color beer names and labels, to a general boys’ club culture and mentality, to the fact that just about every woman in the industry I’ve talked or read has stories like these… it’s just not a good look for Craft Beer Bros.
But no matter where you stand on the socio-political spectrum, even the most staunch “beer as art” pundits recognize that beer is also business. And if you don’t make the green, you don’t make the beer. So in an industry that has a clear, and public, perception issue with the way it does (or doesn’t) make itself more inclusive to women… why host your events in a venue where they get naked for money?
Hey, I like boobs as much as the next guy. And – as an Internet blogger – I hope to see some in person one day, but even I hear about these events and think “Well, that’s a pretty damn stupid business decision.” Do I think it was malicously-intended? Probably not, but you have to question whether or not you’d want to invest in a company – as an investor or a consumer – that is that ignorantly tone deaf. And it probably made a good number of the conference attendees (male and female) uncomfortable (good being described as “above 0″ because this is – again – a FUCKING BUSINESS CONVENTION). Lack of malicious intent is not a money-making business model, and paints the breweries, the Brewers Association, the conference, and their supporters in a bad light (probably a shade of red, with some strobe effects, and Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” playing in the background).
Beer is for people. It doesn’t care what bits you have between your legs. It doesn’t care what color your skin is. It doesn’t care what language you speak or where your parents came from. Beer’s pretty fucking understanding that way (unless you’ve got Celiac’s. Then sorry. Beer’s not perfect). So I simply beseech everyone who makes beer their business, hobby, or passion… stop fucking it up for the rest of us with your bullshit. As Big Vin said to me once: “Vinny, life’s hard enough. Don’t make it harder by being a moron.”
* With all due respect to Carla, a moratorium forever on calling yourself “The _____ Babe.” There is one Babe, his name was Ruth, and I say that as a Red Sox fan. So please stop, or I’m going to start referring to myself as The Homebrew Stud, and no one wants that.
** I actually looked up Craig Grebeck’s career numbers and either I’m more of a feminist than I thought, or I owe Craig an apology.