Sexism in the beer industry: Let them be heard

Ok, so here goes. First post for a while and not an easy subject to write about, but I can’t help feeling like there are certain aspects of the sexism in the beer industry debate which aren’t being said.

Firstly, I’ve seen a few events now which are aimed at addressing sexism by appealing to a female audience. Great, I’m all for that. Let’s grow the market and show that there really is a beer for everyone and, more importantly, room at the table for everyone who wants in. The sector will be much better off if it’s as open and accessible to everyone, no matter what height, weight, nationality, age, oh yes and gender, you are.

However, there have been a few events, aimed at encouraging a female audience which have been made female only. Am I the only one who sees the flaw in this? I can only imagine that the organisers think that by banning all men, they guarantee the sexist few men won’t be there to make the women feel uncomfortable. All I can think is, what a shame.

Personally I think we should be encouraging an ethos of men and women going to pubs together and more than that, families all going together. Creating a place where people are respectful of others and everyone is used to being in a rich diverse crowd full of vibrant chatter and colour, where conversation is unpredictable but always stimulating and enriching.

I would encourage all efforts to raise the profile of women in the industry. The vast range of beers available today are a reflection of the vast array of people who work in the industry which produces them.

I guess what I’m saying is the best way to make the idiots who seek to belittle those who have any perceived differences to their own image of perfection, is to repeatedly show them that a diverse crowd is the norm. Encourage openness, encourage interaction. Don’t ban people.

One other factor in the sexism debate, and one which I think is a real shame, is that I’ve heard a lot of men say, when the issue of sexism is brought up, that they’re not getting involved. They don’t want to say anything out of fear of offending people or having their comments misconstrued. Well fear should never be allowed to prevent positive steps. And I’ve no doubt there are women out there who also back away from voicing their opinion for fear of an over-reaction.

Again, I think it’s important that voices are heard. These people aren’t sexist in any way, so don’t let the only voices be the sexist few or the anti-sexism campaigners. Let’s encourage voices and actions from every element in the industry. Which I guess needs two things. Firstly, don’t be afraid of making your voice heard. That means say what you really think, not just what you think won’t offend. But also, I would encourage everyone to consider how they react to comments. Let’s not jump down the throats of well intended comments, granted there are always those who will be worthy of a strong robust response, but let’s not discourage (literally meaning taking away their courage) honest, decent folk from voicing opinions. As a society we operate best when all voices are heard and a sensible middle view of acceptability is found.

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